Stalemate in pre-season F3 Derby

The Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners played out a 0-0 draw in Saturday’s pre-season fixture at Glen Willow Regional Sports Stadium in Mudgee.

After a cagey opening 10 minutes, it was the Mariners who fashioned the first real opportunity of the contest through trialist Travis Major who forced Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti into action with a shot from the edge of the area.

Major was involved again in the 15th minute when Tom Slater picked out his run with a clever back-heel flick-on, with Major’s first-time striker forcing Birighitti to tip the ball over the crossbar in spectacular fashion.

The Jets responded with their first clear-cut opportunity in the 17th minute, following a neat passage of play that ended with Joel Griffiths sliding a ball through to Jeronimo.

The Argentine’s side-footed effort was on target, only to be thwarted by Mariners shot stopper Liam Reddy.

Both teams battled for midfield supremacy during the middle of the first half and neither side was able to create a clear-cut opportunity on goal until the Jets were awarded a free-kick in the 34th minute.

David Carney opted to go directly for with his free-kick, but his powerful left-footed drive drifted just wide of the top corner of Reddy’s goal.

Nick Montgomery tried his luck for the Mariners in the 38th minute, but his strike on the half-volley from the edge of the area was comfortably dealt with by Birighitti.

A lovely ball out of the centre of defence from new signing Allan Welsh almost unlocked the Mariners’ backline in the 41st minute, however Jeronimo was unable to beat Reddy to the ball and the Mariners goalkeeper cleared it away.

Central Coast had the first goal-scoring opportunity after the break and perhaps the best chance of the game when Montgomery threaded a slide-rule pass through to Richard Vernes.

However, Birighitti was alert to the danger and was off his line quickly to smother Vernes shot with a sharp reflex save.

The Jets’ best opportunity of the match followed shortly thereafter with a superb cross from the left flank by Carney finding an unmarked Jeronimo, but the Argentine’s free header skipped past Reddy’s post without harm.

Sam Gallagher found himself with time and space to shoot after the ball fell kindly for him following a Jets corner in the 68th minute, however the central defender could only drag his effort from the top of the box wide of the mark.

The Jets eventually did have the ball in the back of the net in the 75th minute after Sam Gallaway’s cross to the far post was nodded back across goal by James Virgili and Carney tapped in from close range.

Unfortunately for the Jets the goal was disallowed, with Carney having been ruled offside.

Neither side was able to fashion any more goal-scoring opportunities in the final 15 minutes of the contest as they played out a 0-0 stalemate in what was a fitting result given the balance of play.