Teenage striker Marko Jesic produced a stunning late volley to give Newcastle a 1-0 A-League win over a ten-man Melbourne Victory at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Saturday.
Jesic, a Jets youth team player playing only his second senior match swivelled and volleyed home a knock-on from winger Adam D’Apuzzo in the 85th minute to seal the dramatic win after marquee striker Edmundo Zura has missed a penalty in the first half.
To worsen the woes for Melbourne, striker Archie Thompson is facing a suspension after he was sent off for appearing to swear at referee Matthew Breeze in the 58th minute.
Replays appeared to show Thompson calling Breeze a “f***ing c***” after a foul had been called on him and the referee had no hesitation in showing the Socceroos striker the first red card of his A-League career.
Thompson will miss at least one match for receiving a red card, but is likely to face a lengthier suspension if the A-League’s match review panel refers the case to the tribunal.
Ecuadorian international Zura, who is yet to score a goal since signing on as the Jets marquee player at the start of the season, should have put Newcastle ahead in the 31st minute.
He had arguably his best game this season, proving a constant menace in attack and starting the move the resulted in the penalty being awarded after Rodrigo Vargas hand-balled in the box.
Zura fired his penalty into the right upright much to the dismay of the 11,000-odd home fans, who were again deprived of his trademark goal celebration when he apparently produces a Spiderman mask.
The Jets had most of the game’s chances, with Danish import Jesper Hankasson, Matt Thompson and Adam Griffiths all involved early while the Victory’s best chance fell to top scorer Danny Allsopp.
Jesic, who joined the squad as a injury replacement player for Jason Hoffman, had also been wasteful with many chances but made amends with the late winner.
Newcastle striker Joel Griffiths overcame a hamstring injury to come on as a substitute in the 76th minute while Korean midfielder Jin-Hyung Song also started on the bench but provided the cross in the lead-up to Jesic’s goal when he also came on late.
Melbourne remain in first place with the win while Jets move up to fifth.
Jesic, who at 19 has already come back from two knee reconstructions, was thrilled to have scored the winner.
“I was really glad to get on the scoresheet,” he said.
“It’s only my second game in the A-League and I had a couple of chances in the first half and in the second and it finally paid off in the end.”
Jets coach Gary van Egmond said the win was a relief but admitted the reigning premiers were still not happy with their position on the ladder.
“It was very pleasing. I think we’ve been on the cusp of doing something like that for a while,” van Egmond said.
“It was a very comprehensive display but again if you look at the ladder, we’re not in the form and we need to keep on working and climb ourselves back into that and get in contention for this year’s finals.”
Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick was disappointed Thompson had become the fourth Victory player to be red-carded in the first eight matches of the season.
“The players have been told that the referees are going to enforce strict discipline on dissent and I guess the assumption’s always made that if there’s swearing and it’s in the vicinity of the referee, it’s directed at the referee,” Merrick said.
Thompson will miss next week’s blockbuster clash with Sydney FC.