Victory fall in Newcastle

A 10-man Newcastle Jets outfit have kept their finals ambitions alive with a comprehensive 3-2 victory over a sluggish Melbourne Victory in a fiery and drama-filled clash at Energy Australia Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

A 10-man Newcastle Jets outfit have kept their finals ambitions alive with a comprehensive 3-2 victory over a sluggish Melbourne Victory in a fiery and drama-filled clash at Energy Australia Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In a game littered with six yellows and one red cad, a quality first half strike from Jets skipper Matt Thompson was enough to grant the hosts the lead in the 20th minute before the drama unfolded.

Victory captain Kevin Muscat equalised from the penalty spot as Jets defender Ben Kantarovski earnt his second yellow card for the game after blatantly pulling back the run of Robbie Kruse inside the area.

Entering time-on in the first half, Jets import Michael Bridges proved too classy with his finish as he registered the Jets second before a top drawer volley was rammed home by Haliti in the 55th minute all but securing the three points for the Jets.

A late flurry from Hernandez gave some consolation to an otherwise disappointing effort from the visitors.

In a game which began slowly for both teams, it was Newcastle who fired the first warning shot as Tarek Elrich's work inside the area on four minutes afforded Bridges a volley on goal from the top of the area which saw Langerak at full tilt to deny the powerful shot.

The pace of the encounter picked up however as the game ticked toward the 20-minute mark with both sides trading enterprising field play before a string of undisciplined events made their mark on the game, punctuated by Muscat's 18th minute challenge on Matt Thompson who was aggrieved that the Victory skipper caught him in the stomach after a mistimed aerial clearance.

Referee Breeze saw it fit to issue a yellow with many in the stadium thinking that the punishment did not befit the crime.

On 21 minutes, Kantarovski saw his name enter the book as he foolishly kicked the ball away with the Victory well placed to deliver a quick ball into the penalty area with the act of ill-discipline to count for much more later in the first half but not before the Jets drew first blood moments after.

Breaking hard on the counter, Nikolai Topor Stanley acknowledged the hard run from Bridges in midfield and found him with a crisp left footed ball. Upon receipt, Bridges played in a superb one touch pass which found Thompson unmarked on the left side of the area and with ample time to squeeze his shot under Victory custodian Mitch Langerak.

Upon 28 minutes, Newcastle was dreadfully unlucky not to have its second goal as Haliti drifted onto a lofted ball played through by Jobe Wheelhouse in the middle of defence which found the Jets striker who gathered and rounded Langerak, only to have his angle reduced and his tame shot punched clear for a corner.

The victory then upped the ante as they went about finding the leveller and it came courtesy of Muscat in the 33rd minute.

After already earning the ire of Referee Breeze, Kantarovski's due with and blatant tug of Kruse's shirt inside the penalty area was enough to see the Jets defender sent from the field of play as the penalty was awarded to the visitors.

From the spot, Muscat powered his shot home past Jets keeper Neil Young to tie the scores and give the handful of Victory fans hope.

Stung by the goal, the Jets numbered and muscled up in defence, only to see their concerted efforts go unrewarded with a string of yellow cards and verbal warnings issued by Referee Breeze in an effort to quell a testy period for both sides.

But it would be the defence, or lack thereof, from the visitors that would prove telling before the half-time break.

After winning possession high up the ground, Elrich played a concise one-two with Jobe Wheelhouse down the right channel which allowed the former to skip into space and engage in a gut-busting run which took him towards the right side of the box.

Looking up to see Brides flanked by three Victory defenders, the touch from Elrich was pinpoint as Bridges guided the ball with his right shin past a desperate Langerak, giving the Jets a hard fought 2-1 lead at the interval.

Early substitutions for both sides had Bridges rested in place of Sean Rooney and debutant Angulo replaced by seasoned veteran Grant Brebner.

Archie Thompson tried in vain from the re-start to bring the Victory back into the encounter however a tenacious Jets defence denied him opportunities in the 46th and 49th minute with the recently returned Qantas Socceroo shut down convincingly on both occasions.

With the Victory's defence clearing struggling in conditons, and the mercury climbing to 30 degrees, it would be the Jets quicksilver attack which turned on further heat in the 55th minute as Song gathered in midfield.

Making an incisive swerving run which beat four defenders, he lobbed the ball high inside the area where Haliti clinically finished with a thunderous volley on the turn.

Melbourne's best opportunity to lock the scores away fell soon after with the injection of Tom Pondeljak resulting in a clear shot at goal however the Victory striker stumbled in his run to the ball as Elrich cleared the danger with the Jets counter-attack ending in a free header on goal from Sean Rooney which was directed straight at Langerak.

The Victory pressed forward with numerous thrusts thereafter but were continually turned away by a Jets defence which was as sure as it was confident before Hernandez unleashed a neat curling volley which added late respectability to a scoreline which flattered the visitors.

Newcastle Jets 3 M.Thompson 25', Bridges 44', Haliti 55' Melbourne Victory 2 Muscat(p)44, Hernandez 90'