Victory and Jets grounded by draw

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Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.

The Jets jumped out to a two goal lead through Kew Jaliens and a Joel Griffiths penalty with just half an hour gone but goals to Fahid Ben Khalfallah and the ever reliant Besart Berisha ensured Victory got a share of the points.

Jets coach Phil Stubbins said he couldn’t fault his team’s effort and felt they more than deserved their point.

“Covering the full 90 minutes we played as well as we have done, I was certainly proud of the boy’s efforts,” Stubbins explained.

“We got ourselves a two goal lead, a deserved lead but Melbourne Victory are top of the league for a reason and if you give them a sniff they’ll punish you, and that’s what happened.”

Victory coach Kevin Muscat was less optimistic and said he wasn’t happy to be splitting the points.

“I’m never happy to share anything, but the reality is we’ve had to come back from being two goals down,” said Muscat.

“I thought in the second half we dominated the game and created some threatening opportunities.”

After a flurry of Jets corners the home side took the lead in the 30th minute when Jaliens turned in a David Carney corner from the back post.

Just two minutes later and through another set piece the Jets were rewarded with a penalty after right back Scott Neville was pulled back while attempting to head an incoming corner ball.

Griffiths placed the ball on the spot and calmly put it past Nathan Coe to the delight of the home crowd.

Victory struck back just minutes later after a misguided clearance was crossed in by Gui Finkler and turned in off the head of Fahid Ben Khalfallah.

Berisha had a chance to level the score following a neat through ball from Mark Milligan but the post ensured it remained 2-1 at the break.

The home side started the second half with a flurry but Carney and Ecuadorian striker Edson Montano failed to convert their chances.

Those misses were soon rued even further when Khalfallah turned provider for Melbourne as his chip over the Newcastle defence allowed Berisha to slot the ball past keeper Mark Birighitti.

Montano was denied a penalty with half hour remaining after being cut down in the box following a surging run from midfield

Victory nearly took the lead just minutes later though their captain but Milligan’s header soared over the bar.

Tempers flared in injury time after Marcos Flores was shown a yellow for sliding in on Victory’s Daniel Georgievski.

11,884 fans held their breath as Dylan Murnane fired just wired for Melbourne with the last kick of the game.

Stubbins was impressed with the playing surface following the completion of the re-turfing just two days earlier.

“Despite people’s apprehension the pitch came through with flying colours and it’s a credit to the people who put it in place,” Stubbins said.

The draw keeps Victory top of the table following Adelaide United and Sydney FC’s draw on Friday night while the Jets remain in eighth spot.

The Jets face the short turnaround this week and will welcome the Roar to Hunter Stadium next Friday night while the Victory will turn their attention to their top of the table clash with Sydney FC next Saturday.

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