When I arrived a little early at the Maitland Regional Sports Facility it was quiet but for the chatter of the local birdlife, the movements of coaching staff setting up for the session and the sound of ping pong!
Yes there was a game of table tennis taking place. I sat back to take in the view from the Grandstand. Beautiful surface, and a great facility….ah the serenity.
On Friday 13th approximately 250 members got to attend a Newcastle Jets trial match against WSW. This took place at the Maitland Regional Sports Facility and was scheduled to be three 45 minute thirds.
The Jets started proceedings with arguably their strongest available side and one that may well take the field for the round one fixture against Perth Glory.
Ryan(GK), Jenkinson, Hoffman, Natta, Mauragis (Back 4), Berthomier, Grozos, Ingham, Taylor (Mid 4) and Buhagiar, Stamatelopoulos (Forwards).
For most Newcastle United Jets fans Monday nights Round of 32 Australia Cup clash with Brisbane Roar was their first opportunity to witness their team playing locally for at least four months. A healthy 2764 packed into Maitland’s Regional Sportsground, which included a smattering of Roar fanatics.
Without Archie Goodwin, Reno Piscopo and Tom Aquilina this loomed as a close encounter, particularly as the Roar looked to field a near full strength side, minus recent signing Frenchman Florin Berengeur and the injured former Jet Scott Neville.
The Jets began the game with what looked like a fluid 4-4-2. Scott in goals, with Jenkinson, Natta, Cancar and Mauragis as the back-line. Taylor, O’Neill, Timmins and Ingham as the midfield four. Buhagier and Bayliss as the striking duo.
For the first fifteen minutes the Newcastle attack looked very good. The ball movement was fast, helped no doubt by the impeccable looking pitch, the passing accurate and the intent of the players was there for all to see. The use of the width of the pitch, and therefore the wide players, was an obvious decision that was soon to pay dividends.
Trent Buhagier latched onto a defensive clearance and sent the ball out wide to the advancing Dane Ingham. Buhagier had continued his own run at a rapid pace, getting in behind the Brisbane backline, to slide home Ingham’s perfectly measured cross. 90 seconds later and it was almost a carbon copy move. This time though Brisbane keeper Macklin Freke saved well.
Buhagier again almost got his second with a cross-cum-shot that had the keeper stranded, but landed on to the roof of the net. Both Jets fullbacks continually joined the attack, Lucas Mauragis delighting the Hunter crowd with his tenacious tackling as well as his forward raids.
It was though the right back, former Arsenal player Carl Jenkinson, who went closest to scoring the Jets second. This was a wonderful sweeping move that started with Clayton Taylor picking up the ball just outside the Jets own box. He ran the left flank and then fed a cross field pass to Ingham who quickly fed the advancing Buhagier. He ran deep and cut back the ball to the galloping Jenkinson. His shot was finger tipped away by Freke. A move that was a joy to see.
Brisbane though had plenty of first half possession and got there break-through in the final breath of the half. Armiento’s corner somehow evaded Taylor on the near post and was bizarrely parried into the net by Newy gloveman Scott. Heartbreaking for the fans, mortifying for Scott.
The second half was end to end with the high point, at least from a Newcastle perspective, was Clayton Taylor volleying home an absolute worldy. With his back to the goal, and outside the box, he juggled the ball, turned and crashed the ball home.
Two minutes later Jets Captain Brandon O’Neill received a yellow card for his second foul of the game. Both similar fouls, that debatably may have not been deliberate.
A further two minutes passed and Roar full-back Zabala hit home from close range, the ball falling to him in space after a defensive scramble. 2-2 and the game in the balance. And then Newcastles low point of the contest, O Neill receiving his second yellow card, for a foul on Majok, in the 75th minute. The referee appeared to delay his decision, possibly waiting for advantage, but a send off it was.
Part of my issue with this was the referee’s inaction on Henry Hoare’s fouls. He had three deliberate fouls in the first half but wasn’t even spoken to. It was only when he’d enacted his fifth foul of game that the cheese arrived. A League officials consistently inconsistent!!
Newcastle defended for the most part bravely, but inevitably, and some might say typically Jets, they conceded in the dying embers of the extra time. The fact that we held out for forty five minutes plus, after previously putting in a high tempo performance game, was valiant. A scrappy goal sent Brisbane through to the Round of 16 and left the Newcastle team and fans thinking what could have been.
Yes we missed the likes of Goodwin and Piscopo, but Buhagier had a good game, young Bayliss put himself about and has bags of potential. Dane Ingham put more telling passes into the box in this game than he’d previously done in the last two seasons. He is 100% a better player in the wide attacking role.
Is Ryan Scott a better goalkeeper than Jack Duncan. The jury is out for mine, but checking social media after the game you’d say that there are a number with a negative view of his performances already. Obviously Weier must still be in the frame, but some fans are asking is Noah James in the picture? He has been performing well in the Reserve Jets NPL team by all accounts. Man of the match though would have to be the returning Lucas Mauragis, brilliant in attack and tenacious in the tackle. Great to see him back in a Jets shirt.
With this defeat most of the Novocastrian faithful will now have to wait until late October to see their team perform again. Bring back the pre season Cup I say.