Jets steal a point against Wanderers

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The Newcastle Jets left it until the dying moments of injury time to snatch a 1-1 draw against the Western Sydney Wanderers at Hunter Stadium on Saturday evening.

After last weekend’s dramatic injury time 2-1 loss against the Brisbane Roar, it was Newcastle’s turn to dish out the heartbreak to Wanderers fans who thought they’d secured their first away win of the season.

New South Korean signing Kije Lee was the star for the Novocastrians after he calmly slotted home a penalty resulting from an Antony Golec handball in the Wanderers box.

The 23-year-old was in blistering form for the Jets and his 93rd-minute strike counted out Brendan Santalab’s goal five minutes before full time which strangely also came as result of a handball penalty this time the Newcastle box.

Newcastle boss Phil Stubbins said he was “extremely happy for the group” and pointed out Lee for individual praise after the match.

“Obviously Tony (Popovic) has got a terrific team and for us to come back like we did, particularly with the youth we had on the pitch, it’s fantastic for everybody,” Stubbins said.

“It’s an indication to the supporters that we’re trying to get people on board who want to play the right way for us and have a crack.

“I think it was great for everybody to see Kije have a run like he did and to score a goal like he did might suggest we’ve got a bit of a gem there.”

Stubbins also praised the desire and performance shown by his whole squad to snatch an important point to keep the Jets off the foot of the 2014/15 A-League ladder.

“I think the boys would say they’re satisfied with the outcome but more so the performance,” Stubbins said

“Our seniors players really stood up today and the younger boys really tried to match everyone around them and everyone put in a real shift for the club.

“It’s not the result we were aiming for, it’s not a win, and we always want to try and get the three points, but in terms of our performance that’s the kind of spirit and resolve we want from players that playing for the Jets.”

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic said he was disappointed by the result and felt his team had enough chances to seal the match but was glad to get his first point on the road. 

“The first half wasn’t a great half of football, but the second half we dominated and should have been up by two or three goals before we got the penalty and in the end unfortunately we couldn’t see it out,” Popovic said.

“We got our first point away from home after losing seven straight games, but we were also close to getting our first win on the road.

“When you’re not up by two or three the ball can bounce around and we need to be more ruthless in putting teams away when we have the opportunities and see the game out.”

The opening half of the match provided little entertainment until, much to the delight of the crowd, the RBB set off some flares which gave everyone some respite from the monotony.

Western Sydney’s Tomi Juric provided most of the on-field action and nearly gave the visiting side the lead with five minutes remaining in the opening period but could only manage to rifle his shot into the side netting of Ben Kennedy’s goal.

The second period was much livelier with both teams sharing the chances until Nikolai Topor-Stanley found the net in the 83rd minute only for it to be disallowed for a foul on Kennedy.

However, the visitors took the lead just two minutes later with a coolly struck spot kick thanks to Santalab after the ball struck former Wanderers defender Daniel Mullen’s arm in the box.

The Wanderers had no time to respond to Newcastle’s equaliser with little over a minute left in injury time and Lee celebrated his goal by placing the ball under his shirt and sucking his thumb in tribute to his wife who is seven months pregnant.

The result means the Jets remain one spot above the cellar dwelling Wanderers on the A-League ladder but the Wanderers still have two matches in hand on the Novocastrians.

Western Sydney will now turn their attention to their match against Adelaide United next Saturday night, while the Jets travel to New Zealand next Sunday to face the Wellington Phoenix.

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