Jets waste opportunity to push for finals berth

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The Newcastle Jets have wasted a golden opportunity to jump into the A-League top six after being held to a 2-2 draw with Melbourne Victory on Saturday night at Hunter Stadium.

The Jets desperately needed all three points to keep their finals hopes alive but a late penalty from Victory skipper Mark Milligan forced the hosts to settle for a point.

The Jets dominated from the opening whistle and only a superb acrobatic save from Nathan Coe prevented Newcastle from going one-up in the 9th minute after a stinging long range effort from Captain Ruben Zadkovich.

But the Jets early dominance was rewarded in the 18th minute through Adam Taggart’s 15th goal of the season before the Victory equalised less than three minutes later through Mark Milligan.

A hectic five minute period was capped off with the Jets regaining the lead through an Adrian Leijer own goal after a thunderous Josh Brilliante strike inadvertently struck the Victory defender after hitting the post.

The Jets had a host of chances in the second half to kill off the game but their wastefulness in front of goal got the better of them with Archie Thompson felled in the penalty area in the 84th minute.

Jets defender Josh Mitchell brought down the Victory attacker after a miskick and Mark Milligan sent Ben Kennedy the wrong way to level the scores.

Jets coach Clayton Zane cut a dejected figure following the match and conceded that the result felt like a loss after dominating the contest.

“It feels like a big disappointment. It almost feels like a loss in the change rooms now,” Zane said.

“But it could be a very valuable point.

“I thought it was a dominant display from us. Everyone is going to be looking at the Sydney result but at the end of the day, it is going to go down to the last week now.”

The point moved the Jets up to equal sixth with Sydney FC on 33 points but the Sky Blues have the chance to move clear as they take on Wellington Phoenix to complete round 26.

The Jets desperately need their New Zealand neighbours to knock off Sydney FC to give them hope of sneaking into the top six with a win over Adelaide United in the final round.

For Melbourne, the point ensured Kevin Muscat’s men will be playing finals football but the Victory boss was far from happy with his side’s performance.

Muscat was scathing of his team’s performance labelling it ‘inept’ and suggested the poor surface at Hunter Stadium did not help his side’s fluent style of football.

“From our point of view it was a lack-lustre, inept performance,”Muscat said.

“One that’s going to have to improve and improve quickly.”

Newcastle Jets: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK) 4.Kew JALIENS 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI 8.Ruben ZADKOVICH (c) 9.Emile HESKEY 11.Craig GOODWIN 14.Josh MITCHELL 15.Josh BRILLANTE 17.James Virgilli 21.Sam GALLAWAY 20.Ben KENNEDY (GK) 22.Adam TAGGART 23.David CARNEY 24.Mitch OXBORROW 27.Nick WARD 29.Joel GRIFFITHS

Melbourne Victory: 1.Nathan COE (GK) 3.Adama TRAORE 4.Nick ANSELL 5.Mark MILLIGAN (C) 6.Leigh BROXHAM 7.Gui FINKLER 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES 10.Archie THOMPSON 13.Andrew NABBOUT 14.James TROISI 17.James JEGGO 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK) 21.Tom ROGIC 23.Adrian LEIJER 24.Scott GALLOWAY 25.Jason GERIA

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