Wanderers grounded by Jets fightback
NEWCASTLE showed plenty of character in their first A-League match under new coach Carl Robinson, fighting back to earn a 1-1 draw at Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.
The Jets fell behind to a fifth-minute penalty from Wanderers' captain Mitchell Duke at Bankwest Stadium, and could have been three down by the 15th.
But they gradually battled their way back and created several chances before Matt Millar beat goalkeeper Daniel Lopar at his near post with a fierce drive in the 75th minute.
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The result left Wanderers five points out of the top-six and without a home win in their last six matches stretching back to October.
Duke blasted his spot-kick down the middle of the goal after Bruce Kamau was bundled over in the area by Bobby Burns but they squandered two other gilt-edged chances to extend their lead.
Simon Cox was through but Jets' goalkeeper Lewis Italiano smothered the ball at his feet and Duke then had a shot rebound off a post.
Newcastle worked their way back into the game as the half progressed and Lopar pulled off some crucial saves in the ten minutes either side of halftime.
Nigel Boogaard, Steven Ugarkovic and Abdiel Arroyo were all off target in the first half for the Jets, while Dimi Petratos had a header saved by Lopar, who also blocked a close range toe poke from Millar.
Newcastle carried that momentum into the second half, with Lopar acrobatically tipping shots from Petratos and Ugarkovic over the bar.
Jets' goalkeeper Lewis Italiano was also busy, thwarting strikes from Keanu Baccus, Daniel Georgievski and Nikolai Muller before Newcastle continued to push for an equaliser.
Burns hit a post and Lopar saved from Arroyo, but the Wanderers' keeper would probably be disappointed when he was beaten by Millar's effort.
The contest was played in difficult conditions after the start was delayed for 22 minutes due to heavy rain and thunderstorms.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 1 (Mitchell Duke 5m pen) NEWCASTLE JETS 1 (Matthew Millar 75m) at Bankwest Stadium. Referee: Shaun Evans