Wanderers overturn two-goal deficit in entertaining draw with Jets

Catch the highlights as Newcastle Jets took on Western Sydney Wanderers in a 2-2 draw.

Marcus Antonsson’s first goal in the Isuzu UTE A-League helped Western Sydney Wanderers salvage a 2-2 draw away to Newcastle Jets on Sunday afternoon.

Apostolos Stamatelopoulos’ brace had given the Jets a 2-0 lead in their first home match of the season at McDonald Jones Stadium.

However, the unbeaten Wanderers clawed back the two-goal deficit thanks to Josh Brillante and Swedish import Antonsson as the Jets were left still searching for their first win of the campaign.

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Western Sydney were awarded a penalty late on, however, it was overturned after a review.

Wet conditions greeted both sides in the Hunter region, where neither team created anything clear cut through the opening 17 minutes.

But the game sprung to life when Trent Buhagiar and Stamatelopoulos combined for Newcastle’s 18th-minute opener, somewhat against the run of play.

A gem of a cross from Buhagiar picked out Stamatelopoulos, who found the back of the net with a sensational long-range header which left Wanderers goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas with no chance.

There was a big chance for the Jets eight minutes later when Buhagiar burst clear on goal but Lawrence Thomas sprinted out of his box and managed to deny the Newcastle speedster while keeping his hands out of the way.

At the other end, a swift Wanderers counter-attack almost yielded an equaliser; Nicolas Milanovic played a teasing pass across the six-yard box but a diving Antonsson could not steer his effort on target.

Western Sydney were almost caught out on the counter again after Clayton Taylor was away on goal, however, Thomas got down low to make the save on the half-hour mark.

The Jets, though, were not to be denied seven minutes later and it was that man Stamatelopoulos again.

Buhagiar got in behind the Wanderers’ defence, volleyed a pass to his teammate, who composed himself before slotting home.

The Wanderers continued to apply the pressure in the second half and Milanovic headed just wide within five minutes of the restart.

Newcastle looked relatively comfortable in defence until the 61st minute. A corner into the box found Marcelo, who rose highest and his towering header appeared to trickle off teammate Josh Brillante and into the net.

The Jets had an opportunity to kill off the game with 16 minutes remaining but Buhagiar miscued his attempt after lobbing the ball over the onrushing Thomas. The Newcastle forward’s chip took him too far wide of the goal.

Western Sydney got themselves back on level terms after unlocking the Jets with eight minutes remaining – Antonsson’s first touch setting him up to restore parity.

There was a scary moment for the Jets within seconds of the restart after Dane Ingham was penalised for a handball. However, it was overturned following a pitch-side review which showed the Jets full-back had his arms tucked into his body.

The Talking Point

Just as the Wanderers equalised, there was another huge moment for Western Sydney as the referee pointed to the spot in the 83rd minute.

To Ingham’s disbelief, the Jets defender was penalised for an apparent handball. The player, however, maintained his innocence as he showed the ball struck his elbow, with his arms tucked in.

The referee was encouraged by VAR to review the incident and he promptly overturned the original decision, much to the relief of Newcastle.

The star

Stamatelopoulos’ second coming is proving lethal.

During his first stint with the Jets, he scored three goals in 12 appearance back in 2020-21 before taking his exploits to Greece with Rodos in the second tier and PAS Giannina in the first division.

Back in Newcastle this season, the 24-year-old has already scored three goals in as many appearances – quickly matching his tally from 2020-21.

After scoring in Round 1, Stamatelopoulos lifted the Jets past the Wanderers with his first brace since scoring twice for Rodos in November 2021.

It was also his first two-goal haul in the A-Leagues since a double for Adelaide United against Wellington Phoenix in 2019.

What they said

Whenever you surrender a two-goal lead, there is always a feeling of disappointment but for Brandon O’Neill, Sunday’s match highlighted the basis of Newcastle jets football.

“Young lads having a crack,” the Jets captain told Paramount+.

Newcastle left the Wanderers shell-shocked after a two-goal opening 45 minutes inspired by two-goal hero Stamatelopoulos before Western Sydney rallied to snatch a point.

The youthful Jets are still searching for their first win of the season after two draws and a loss from their first three games under Robert Stanton.

But O’Neill’s post-game interview showed why the skipper is excited about the future at McDonald Jones Stadium.

“I think I said something more explicit to you didn’t I, so I can’t say that on camera,” O’Neill started off by saying.

“You’re 2-0 up at home. You get the next one and it’s probably game over. A young team still learning to win football games, but I’m the sort of fella – and I know a lot of lads are the sort of people that we try to focus on the positive stuff.

“By god there were loads of positive stuff. We need to drill into that and make sure we keep learning as a football team. Come the end of the season, we should be evolved as a football team.”

Asked how enthused he was by the performance in the first half at McDonald Jones Stadium, O’Neill said: “Just ask me legs, they’re very enthused I’ll tell you that much.

“I think it’s probably the basis of Newcastle Jets football – young lads having a crack.

“Me doing the work behind them to make sure I can play them in, away you go.

“As a leader of this group, you just try to guide them and nudge them in the right directions. They’re going to make mistakes. We’re all going to make mistakes. But the way in which Clay (Clayton Taylor) has gone about it, Stama (Apostolos Stamatelopoulos), Trent (Buhagiar), Lachie Bayliss, I could go on and on about these lads.

“We’re in a good place. Again, we just need to be a learning group. Learn from this experience – we should have won and put the game to bed at home.

“But you learn. We go to sleep and go again.”

What it means

The Jets will be left to rue what might have been after earning a two-goal lead. Newcastle have won only three of their last 12 league games at McDonald Jones Stadium (D3 L6), including only one of their last six (D2 L3).

Newcastle are back on the road in Round 4, making the trip to Victoria to face Western United on November 11.

The Wanderers conceded their first goals of the season, but they showed plenty of fight away from home.

Still undefeated, Western Sydney return to CommBank Stadium to host Perth Glory on November 11.