It was a case of déjà vu for the Newcastle Jets who again failed to capitalise on chances against the Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday evening.
Rob Stanton’s outfit led 3-2 against its A-League Men’s (ALM) rivals at CommBank Stadium but conceded a goal in stoppage time – opposite 10 men – to share the competition points, courtesy of a 3-all draw.
It capped a controversial week for Wanderers mentor Marko Rudan, who launched an extraordinary spray on match officials and the powers-that-be about the state of the game during the week.
And, he wouldn’t have been pleased to see two of his players red-carded in the thrilling encounter either.
Young Western Sydney goalie Taiga Harper, the side’s fourth to take the field this season, was put under immediate pressure.
He mistimed a clearance in the fifth minute, which Trent Buhagiar collected.
The striker then calmly piloted the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Harper’s Newcastle equivalent Ryan Scott was called upon to make a crucial save soon after when Nicolas Milanovic took aim.
The Wanderers’ teenager redeemed himself, denying Apostolos Stamatelopoulos and Thomas Aquilina in quick time to show he was up for the challenge.
But, as in previous weeks, the Jets relaxed in defence, which proved costly.
Within the space of a couple of minutes, Western Sydney hit the front, via a double to Lachlan Brook.
Firstly, thanks to Alexander Badolato, he fired a shot past Scott and he backed it up with a header, following a great pass from Milanovic, to put the hosts ahead 2-1.
He almost claimed a hat-trick in the 35th minute, however the ball sailed to the right of the post.
Newcastle went close just before the break.
Kosta Grozos’ right-footer was blocked by Harper and then he smacked the crossbar with a nicely-timed long-range attempt.
Despite that, the Wanderers went to sheds with a handy 2-1 margin.
The Jets needed something special to start the second half… and that came in the shape of a red card.
Western Sydney’s Tate Russell cut down Daniel Wilmering, who grabbed his ankle in pain.
Referee Shaun Evans, after conferring with the VAR, awarded a yellow to the defender.
However, because it was Russell’s second of the match, he was sent off.
Stamatelopoulos, following two misses against Melbourne Victory in round 16, made no mistake on this occasion to level it up at 2-all.
He then scored his 13th goal of 2023/24 in the 70th minute, beautifully finishing off a terrific Lucas Mauragis cross for a 3-2 advantage.
There was an anxious moment for Stanton when Mark Natta was dispossessed of the football.
Brook loomed up, with plenty of space, but Scott was up to the task again.
Even with 10 men, the Wanderers looked dangerous and Newcastle finally cracked with skipper Marcelo landing the equaliser for 3-all.
Adding more drama to the affair was the dismissal of Western Sydney’s Jorrit Hendrix in the dying stages, leaving the side with nine players.
For more sports stories:
- Toronto’s Susie Rawlings tees off with Women in Turf
- Maitland bowls over Cessnock to claim John Bull Shield
- ALW: Wanderers a thorn in wasteful Jets’ side
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