A late blow from Trent Buhagiar enabled the Newcastle Jets to salvage a dramatic 2-all draw with the Perth Glory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
In front of more than 4,700 vocal supporters, the home side appeared set to chalk up win number two on the trot in the A-League Men’s (ALM) competition following an outstanding first half.
However, Perth Glory – aided by former Jet Adam Taggart – came out strongly in the second period to hit the front 2-1.
With time almost over, Buhagiar then produced a bit of magic to level it up at 2-all, highlighting the team’s fighting qualities.
After the two rivals sounded each other out in the opening exchanges, Newcastle went close in the 17th minute when Reno Piscopo’s right-footed shot narrowly missed the mark.
Perth survived the scare and launched its own attacking raid, which drew a foul – and yellow card – from Lucas Mauragis.
But, goalie Ryan Scott calmly defused the situation.
The Jets, on the back of some promising moves, finally broke the deadlock in the 25th minute.
Glory’s Mark Beevers took Thomas Aquilina’s legs out from under him, with referee Shaun Evans quickly awarding a penalty in the box.
Goalscoring whiz Apostolos Stamatelopoulos stepped up and slotted home the goal for a 1-0 lead, his seventh in as many rounds.
Soon after, Aquilina blazed away with the ball sailing over the bar.
Newcastle continued its relentless assaults on Perth, with John Koutroumbis’ last-ditch effort denying Stamatelopoulos in the 34th minute, while Piscopo, Clayton Taylor and Mauragis caused several headaches.
At the other end, defender Phillip Cancar was called into action with an outstanding tackle to deny the Glory.
However, try as they might, the Jets could not convert a couple more chances in the latter stages and went to the break with the slender 1-0 advantage.
Disaster struck straight after the resumption, with Luke Ivanovic setting up former hometown hero Taggart to draw level at 1-all.
That setback was compounded 10 minutes later when a defensive lapse allowed Stefan Colakovski to slip it past Scott for a 2-1 margin.
Taggart landed his second of the afternoon, but was ruled offside by the officials, much to the delight of the local fans.
Perth maintained the rage… however, Newcastle held firm.
Sensing time was against them, the Jets lifted their intensity, with Stamatelopoulos, Archie Goodwin and Mauragis testing rival keeper Cameron Cook.
It was then left to Buhagiar to save the day in the 98th minute.
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