The Newcastle Jets have secured a 3-1 win over local rivals the Central Coast Mariners in a pulsating game at Newcastle International Sports Centre in front of the largest crowd ever to attend an A-League match in Newcastle.
Jets coach Gary Van Egmond pulled a masterstroke by giving a surprise start to young striker Mark Bridge in place of Milton Rodriguez who was dropped to the bench, with Bridge opening the scoring as early as the 6th minute. Matt Thompson ran to the by line and his cross-found Bridge who volleyed home sending the home team's fans into raptures.
Damian Mori showed his intentions as early as the 14th minute he beats Jade North to the ball at the edge of the penalty area his shot from an acute angle hits the side netting then three minutes later a North back header to his goal keeper is too soft and Mori has possession with only Ben Kennedy to beat but he rushes his shot and it goes over the cross bar.
The 18th minute sees a Nick Carle one two with Bridge, Carle is played in with only the goal keeper to beat his left foot shot is perfect as it beats Danny Vukovic, 2-0 Jets.
The Jets are looking good; the Central Coast Mariners look to be in shock and haven't recovered from last week's poor second performance verus Victory.
A beautiful series of passes between Carle, Griffiths and Bridge sees Coveny in a dangerous position but he is fouled by Michael Jedinak before he can release a pass to the unmarked Steve Eagleton. From the resulting free kick Griffiths fires over the cross bar.
On the half hour a Mariners corner is cleared to Sullivan his cross is bound for Mori's head but Kennedy takes the cross. A minute later Mori receives the ball with his back to goal he still he able to round two defenders and unleash a shot across the face of the goal from the edge of the penalty area. Five minutes later its Mori again, he has possession and his quick pace has two Jets defenders back peddling, he is just unable to round the last defender, the ball breaks to Okon and his pass finds Griffiths in on goal, his delightful chip has Vukovic well beaten and as the crowd roars for goal number 3, the ball sails just over the cross bar.
Its real end to end stuff as in the 40th minute a Carle pass is intercepted by Wayne Sullivan, he races 30 meters down the right flank, his pint point cross finds Mori whose header from 12 meters beats Kennedy and goes in of the far upright, he immediately runs to the sea of yellow in the Eastern Stand to celebrate his goal, it is estimated an approximate 1,800 Mariners fans have made their way up the F3 to attend this game. Its 2-1 Jets.
The first half ends with a Carle corner that is cleared to Thompson his fierce goal bound shot is deflected just wide.
The second half sees the Mariners with more of the possession. Noel Spencer has replaced Paul O'Grady and the Mariners look more solid at the back but they can't create a clear-cut chance.
Paul Kohler almost puts he Jets further in front on the hour but his 20 meter effort is going in at the near post is brilliantly saved by a full stretch dive from Vukovic.
Damien Brown sees a dipping free kick cleared to Sullivan whose shot is blasted over the cross bar. Kohler then goes for a long break down the right side his pass finds Griffiths who turns his defender inside out his goal bound shot is touched over the cross bar from Vukovic.
The Mariner are pushing for a equaliser In the 70 minute a dangerous Brown cross finds Adam Kwasnik whose near post header is just wide. Six minutes later a Sullivan cross is headed just past the upright by North.
The game is sealed in the 78th minute, the Jets brake from a Mariners corner and Rodriguez who has come on as a substitute has possession he is about to unleash a left foot pile driver but is fouled by Tony Vidmar, who receives a yellow card, from the resultant free kick Rodriguez is then able to unleash a left foot pile driver from 25 meters which deflects of the wall and into the back of the net, 3-1 Jets.
In the final minutes we continue to see exciting end-to-end play with a Thompson cross finding Rodriguez his shot is wide of the upright. A dipping Brown free kick finds Hutchinson his effort is touched over by Kennedy, the corner finds Spencer who heads over the cross bar.
The final minute has Rodriguez in the clear on the left he holds the ball up for the on coming Labinot Haliti and from close range his shot is just wide.
The result continues Newcastle's wonderful turn around, their unbeaten run under Van Egmond continues and puts it on the brink of the top four, trailing the fourth-placed Queensland Roar on goal difference. It was a crucial result for the Jets, who amazingly will not play at home again this year as they kick off a five-game away stretch next weekend.
The Central Coast, meanwhile, slips to sixth after suffering its first defeat in five games.