10-man Jets down Phoenix

A 10-man Newcastle Jets defeated Wellington Phoenix 2-1 in a pre-season friendly at Magic Park on Saturday afternoon.

On a picture perfect Saturday afternoon in Newcastle, it was Wellington who fashioned the first opportunity of the match in the third minute through Jeremy Brockie.

The former Jet managed to beat the offside trap to find himself in behind the Jets’ defence with only Mark Birighitti to beat.

However, the Jets shot-stopper was quickly off his line to make a sharp reflex save with his outstretched left boot.

Phoenix import Roly Bonevacia was left unmarked from the ensuing corner, but could only direct his free header straight into the arms of Birighitti.

Wellington continued their bright start with Michael McGLinchey rattling the crossbar with a powerful long range effort in the seventh minute, before Brockie forced Birighitti into action again with a stinging drive from the edge of the area five minutes later.

The Jets’ first opportunity of the match came from a set-piece in the 13th minute, with Jonny Steele lifting his free-kick over the wall, only to be denied by a smart save from Moss.

That opportunity was followed by a good period for the Jets, which culminated in them being awarded a penalty after Andrew Durante was ruled to have handled the ball in the box in the 22nd minute.

Joel Griffiths stepped-up to take the spot kick, coolly side-footing the ball past Moss into the bottom corner to give Newcastle a 1-0 lead.

The Jets went close to doubling their lead in the 28th minute, with Scott Neville delivering a dangerous cross from the right flank towards Edson Montano.

The Ecuadorean rose well to nod the ball back across goal to Griffiths, whose diving header was miraculously cleared off the line.

While he received good support from Montano and Jeronimo, Griffiths continued to be the Jets’ best attacking outlet throughout the first half.

Newcastle’s all time leading scorer nearly completed his brace with an impressive individual effort on the stroke of half-time.

The striker picked up the ball near the halfway line and carried it forward into the attacking third before unleashing a stinging drive from the edge of the area that forced Moss into a diving save.

The Jets were reduced to 10 men shortly after the half-time interval when Ben Kantarovski was given his second yellow card for a rash challenge on Albert Riera.

Despite being down a man, it was the Jets who created the next opportunity of the game in the 57th minute, with Steele breaking down the left flank, before crossing towards Griffiths at the back post.

However’ Steele’s ball was fractionally over-hit, preventing Griffiths from being able to control his header, which looped over the crossbar.

The Phoenix leveled the scores three minutes later after the Jets’ defence was stretched allowing Brockie to find space on the edge of the area, where he shook off a pair of Jets defenders before finishing low past Birighitti.

The Jets went close to retaking the lead seven minutes later with Steele winning the ball from Ben Sigmund, before spotting Wellington replacement goalkeeper Lewis Italiano off his line.

The Northern Ireland international’s audacious chips drifted inches over the crossbar with Italiano caught in no man’s land.

Wellington had a near miss of their own in the 75th minute, with Michael Boxall heading a corner onto the roof of the net.

Making his first appearance in Newcastle Jets colours, second-half substitute Marcos Flores produced a moment of brilliance a minute later to set-up James Virgili for the winning goal.

Flores spotted Virgili’s clever run in behind the Wellington defence and played a perfectly-weighted through ball to the speedy winger.

Virgili did well to keep his composure and stab the ball past an on-rushing Italiano into an empty net to give the home side a 2-1 lead.

The Jets stayed compact in the dying stages of the match to limit the Phoenix’s goal scoring opportunities and ensure the held on for their first win over Hyundai A-League opposition this pre-season.

Newcastle Jets 2 (Griffiths 22’ pen, Virgili 76’)

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Brockie 60’)

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