Jets sneak home equaliser

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The Newcastle Jets have salvaged a draw in injury time against their A-league rivals, the Central Coast Mariners, at Energy Australia Stadium tonight.

It took the Jets 91 minutes to equalise and extend their unbeaten run to four matches going into their much-anticipated game against David Beckham’s LA Galaxy.

The Jets were staring down the barrel of a home defeat after Matt Simon threaded the needle in the 49th minute.

The evergreen Central Coast striker loves nothing more than an F3 derby, and when a miss kick from Ben Kantarovski rebounded off Mustafa Amini and landed at the feet of Simon, he must of thought all his Christmases had come at once.

Simon extended his tally to five goals this season.

The Jets scratched and clawed home the equaliser through out of favour substitute, Sasho Petrovski, after the Central Coast failed to clear a long throw from Nikolai Topor-Stanley.

Unfortunately for the Jets, their injury woes deepen.

After losing captain Ljubo Milicevic and their star import, Francis Jeffers, in the first half, the Jets were facing an uphill battle against their better-placed rivals.

Jeffers aggravated a niggling groin injury, whilst Milicevic didn’t return after the break after injuring his ankle late in the first half.

But that wasn’t all for the Jets, keeper Ben Kennedy limped off just before full time after a physical mix up in the box.

It’s fair to say the injuries took the edge off the Jets, after providing the 7730 strong crowd with plenty to cheer about in the first half.

Matt Simons finish was somewhat clinical, and oozed of experience from the Central Coast stalwart. But they too lacked the x-factor to take bragging rights back to the Coast.

For me, it was great to see such a jubilant and passionate crowd.

It’s not easy to summon over 7000 spectators to any sporting event on a Wednesday night, particularly when the majority of fans are saving their vocal cords for the arrival of Beckham later in the week.

It’s positive for the A-league to see this rivalry flourish, not only for the supporters of these two inter-connected smallish towns, but also because it takes the sting out of the more well known derby’s that get the majority of media attention.

Culina and his men only have two days to prepare for the arrival of the Galaxy.

Despite this match having no bearing whatsoever on the A-league standings, the result will be a good yardstick for the standard of the A-league.

Yes, the Jets are under strength, however, the Galaxy are done for the year, and are probably still recovering from mad Monday. So, perhaps the two sides will meet on level terms.

The Mariners now return to Bluetongue to take on Sydney FC. Although the Mariners position on the ladder would assume favouritism, a sleepy Sydney is not someone you want to take lightly.

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