By Simon Kelly
When the Newcastle Jets kicked off their Australia Cup game against Melbourne Victory my plane was just hitting the runway at Sydney Airport. A combination of jet lag and mild technophobia meant that streaming the game on my mobile phone was proving difficult.
Facebook updates kept me happy and when Archie Goodwin had followed up Trent Buhagier’s first half goal I began to relax into the ponderous train journey back to Novocastria, the only drawback (apart from how slow the train is), was travelling through that turdhole Gosford.
Oh how naive was I? Have I not learned anything in the last few years as a diehard Jets fan? Facebook had started to look frantic, but no one was making a definitive comment. I quickly messaged another Jets diehard tragic to find out what was going on. Two goals conceded in injury time!
Inexplicable….no just another average day in the life of a Newcastle Jets supporter. A little more effort and some accurate advice from my messaged mate and I tuned in for some extra time excitement.
We looked the better side and maybe we should have as Victory had
decided to play largely a second string/youth outfit. But you can only play against what’s in front of you.
Trent Buhagier had two guilt edged chances in the passage of extra time, but both efforts were wide of the Victory goals. He’s a player that has frustrated fans in his time in the Hunter. A great athlete who seems to need numerous chances to score a goal. The rumour mill currently has him heading to the Indian Premier League, but I can confirm he was at Jets training on my brief visit last week.
The penalty shootout, true to form was a nail biter. Would our team have it any other way? Goodwin and Folami both converted their respective pens.
Daniel Stynes shot was saved by Victory keeper Ahmad Teleb. William Wilson, who’d previously converted from the penalty spot to take the game into extra time, had his shot saved by newly signed goalkeeper Ryan Scott.
Callum Timmins scored, just and Nishan Velupillay did likewise for Victory. Carl Jenkinson hammered his pen home but Jordi Valadon missed the goal completely. Centre back Phil Cancar cooly converted his dot shot to deservedly send Newcastle into the Round of 32.
There are a couple of noteworthy points worth considering with this penalty shootout. Firstly massive credit must go to Daniel Stynes for stepping up in this shootout. I got the impression that he was trying to redeem himself. He played a part in both the Victory goals. Losing the ball cheaply for the first and a weak wayward header back towards the Newy goal for the second..
Yes keeper Scott was the guilty party in conceding the penalty, but the ball shouldn’t have been put there in the first place. A lesser player would have stood back and called it a night. It wasn’t the worst taken penalty (even on the night), on target, but a little too tame. I’m sure his minutes on the field and that penalty were a massive learning curve for the 24 year old midfielder.
Secondly the way the other Jets players got around Stynes at the conclusion of the game spoke volumes. This team is definitely in it together, as they should be, but from a fans perspective that kind of camaraderie is what is required and fantastic to see.
Although the current football media chatter is mainly Matildas/Womens World Cup, and rightly so, it’s still possible to find some A League related articles and comment. Even though the season is two and a half months away some pundits are keen to stick the boot in and predict a wooden spoon for the Newcastle Jets club and for new coach Rob Stanton to be the first A League coach to be shown the door.
I doubt either will occur, but it just goes to show how quickly some will write others off. The underdog tag is one that the Hunter Valley faithful will relish.
If there is a slight concern for some fans then it maybe the lack of player recruitment. Stantons first interview a month ago alluded to bringing in a striker, centre mid and a central defender. Apostolos Stamatelpoulos (striker) was announced a few days after this interview.
As recently as last week the rumour mill kicked into gear with speculation of a Spanish centre back, 31 year old Victor Adeva, signing for Newy. This has fizzled to nothing. That said we have signed Jacob Dowse, Daniel Wilmering, Lachlan Bayliss, Clayton
Taylor and Lucas Mauragis has thankfully returned to the fold.
Our budget is low and with our benefactors (WSW, Western United, Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix) patience seemingly wearing thin, it’s worrying to say the least. Arthur Papas’s reference to ownership “that’s the biggest signing we can make”, is still ringing in fans ears.
Back to the football on the field though and Monday 14th August will see Newcastle take on the Brisbane Roar in Maitland for the Round of 32, Australia Cup. Archie Goodwin will be sidelined due to his re-occurring back complaint. Hopefully this will be our only missing player. It will be a good opportunity for local fans to see the team up close. Progress in the Cup will help drive interest too. Extra time and a penalty shoot out is not preferred either!