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GALLERY: ‘Lucky’ Jets must improve 

Posted by on 21/09/2019

JETS coach Gary van Egmond admitted Newcastle were lucky to salvage a draw against Sydney FC on Saturday night and will need to lift their game to challenge in-form Western Sydney Wanderers this week.
Shanghai night field

Newcastle were facing the prospect of a 2-1 loss at Hunter Stadium until Sydney skipper Terry McFlynn was penalised and sent off in the 87th minute for blocking a goal-bound Ryan Griffiths shot with his arm.

Griffiths drilled home the penalty, his second of the night, to clinch a point for Newcastle and extend their unbeaten run to five games.

The result left Newcastle (23 points) clinging to fifth on the ladder, two ahead of Brisbane, Melbourne Heart and Sydney.

Van Egmond was pleased with the resilience and character his troops showed in twice fighting back from deficits but was candid when asked if they would need a better performance against the Wanderers at Campbelltown on Saturday night.

‘‘It won’t matter who we play – we have to improve,’’ van Egmond said. ‘‘The character of the team is fantastic, as you can see, but performance wise we have to get better.

‘‘There will be no better opportunity than going down to West Wanderers with their away game at Campbelltown.’’

Asked if he felt his team were lucky against Sydney, van Egmond replied: ‘‘Yeah, I do.

‘‘Lucky in the sense that with the amount of options that we had to play out and create better attacks, I thought we were extremely poor.’’

Sydney coach Frank Farina agreed that fortune favoured Newcastle, especially in the case of their first-half penalty, but had no complaints.

‘‘Looking back on it, it is a hard one to take,’’ he said.

‘‘Before the game, if you asked me, we would have settled for a point.

‘‘But to concede that late, and another penalty, was disappointing.’’

Farina said the McFlynn hand-ball decision was ‘‘fair enough’’.

But he said the Griffiths penalty in the 14th minute, which allowed Newcastle to equalise after Sydney star Alessandro Del Piero opened the scoring two minutes earlier, was debatable.

‘‘The first one was a bit dubious,’’ he said.

‘‘Maybe from the angle the referee was on he thought it was a genuine foul, but I didn’t see a real lot of contact with Ryan. But there’s no point moaning about it … it evens itself out.’’

They say that good teams make their own luck, and over the past month at the very least Newcastle have shown steel that was not apparent early in the season.

‘‘From that perspective, it was fantastic to see that we got something out of the game,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘In the balance of the game, I think we deserved to get something out of it.

‘‘I was disappointed with the performance, but we showed tremendous character to get something out of it.’’

The Jets coach denied that his players had been over-confident against a Sydney team missing six regulars, including former Newcastle crowd favourite Joel Griffiths and Socceroo Brett Emerton.

‘‘The local media gave us enough not to be complacent about it,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘We just had to bring a few things up that were mentioned and the boys were very, very fired up to ensure that they wanted to get those three points.’’

Del Piero was once again outstanding for Sydney, scoring their first goal and playing a crucial role in their second.

Scores were locked 1-all at half-time.

Sydney opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a typical piece of magic from Del Piero after a rookie error from Jets defender Connor Chapman.

Trying to play out from his own end, Chapman’s pass was intercepted by McFlynn, who toed the ball to Del Piero.

The veteran made it look easy in placing a powerful left-foot shot past the despairing dive of Jets keeper Mark Birighitti for his 10th goal of the season.

The visitors’ lead lasted just two minutes. Sydney’s Rhyan Grant was penalised in the 14th minute for a clumsy challenge on Griffiths, who equalised from the spot.

Twelve minutes after the half-time interval, Del Piero capitalised on another Newcastle error when playing out.

Ruben Zadkovich was dispossessed on the halfway line and Del Piero cleverly teed up winger Ali Abbas, who blasted a low shot at Birighitti.

Birighitti parried the ball, but Blake Powell was first on the scene to restore the lead.

The visitors endured some nervous moments as the Jets, with a howling southerly and 12,428-strong crowd behind them, battled to restore parity in the second half.

Finally Sydney cracked when McFlynn conceded the decisive penalty, which Griffiths placed perfectly for his eighth goal of the season.

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

Scenes from the round 19 A League game, Jets v Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday. Picture Peter Stoop

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