Both Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory were without a significant number of regulars on Friday night due to a youth national team tournament in Oman, injuries and suspensions. A 1-1 draw at the Hunter Stadium was probably a good result for both sides as they work through this mid-season mass exodus, while both remained within the top six.
The home standing Jets were without Kew Jaliens, via suspension, while Andrew Hoole, Adam Taggart, Josh Brillante and Connor Chapman were in Oman. The Victory had Adrian Leijer suspended, Mark Milligan out with an injury and Nick Ansell, Sam Galloway, Jason Geria and Connor Pain all with Aurelio Vidmar's U22 team. Particularly for Melbourne, the changes made in defense were risky, though ultimately worked out on the night. Newcastle had more of a veteran look with some of its youngsters out of the country.
Newcastle's opener came from a deflected Craig Goodwin free kick three minutes before halftime. The Victory answered with a swift counter attack that ended with Kosta Barbarouses setting up Nabbout for a 50th minute equalizer. Both sides had decent looks throughout the game but Archie Thompson, fresh back from injury, nearly scored a dramatic winner but for a brilliant Mark Birighitti save.
A point lifts the Victory into sole possession of third place, edging past Central Coast Mariners (who have a game in hand) on goal difference. The Jets slip back to sixth with their point, but are only four points out of second place. In Week 15, Melbourne visit Wellington Phoenix on Saturday January 18 while the Jets will face Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Friday night January 17.
NEW Nichols (og) 42'
MVC Nabbout (Barbarouses) 50'
Newcastle Jets: Birighitti; Gallaway, Mitchell, Regan, Pepper; Zadkovich, Kantarovski; Goodwin (Caravaella 78'), Burns, Brown (Virgili 51'); Heskey (Bridges 79')
Unused substitutes: Kennedy, Gibbs
Melbourne Victory: Coe; Murnane, Traore, Contreras, Broxham; Mahazi, Nichols (Jeggo 57'); Nabbout (Thompson 68'), Finkler (Makarounas 78'), Troisi; Barbarouses
Unused substitutes: Thomas, Ridesic