A gritty Newcastle Jets side battled back from two goals down to earn a deserved 2-2 draw away to Sydney FC at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
The Jets got off to the worst possible start, when Adam Le Fondre was brought down in the box by the Newcastle keeper Jack Duncan after just eight minutes. The Englishman then keeping his composure to convert the spot-kick and score Sydney’s first goal of the season.
However, the Jets recovered and began to pose a threat to the Sydney backline, with Olivier Boumal and Valentino Yuel showing great promise and excitement with the ball. The pair combined twice and nearly put their side level, Boumal firstly with a fierce volley, and then Yuel slicing a shot into the side netting in the 29th minute.
They would live to regret those missed opportunities as just a minute later, Sydney had doubled their advantage.
A peach of a ball from Paulo Retre released Le Fondre, who managed to hold off Matt Jurman before sliding the ball across to an onrushing Elvis Kamsoba, who duly tapped the ball in.
The Jets halved the deficit on 58 minutes, when Yuel latched onto a through ball from Daniel Penha and smashed the ball past Andrew Redmayne.
The Yuel show continued as he smashed home the equaliser in just seven minutes later, sparking wild celebrations in the travelling Squadron.
Sydney didn’t let their heads drop, and thought they put themselves back in front through Le Fondre, however Max Burgess was adjudged to be offside and the goal was chalked off.
Both teams went hell for leather in an attempt to find the winning goal, but neither side could find the killer blow.
RETRE PUTS ON A CLINIC
Much has been made of the season-ending injury to talismanic midfielder Luke Brattan, with many fearing it could have a hugely detrimental effect on the team.
However, Sydney fans will have nothing to worry about if Retre can produce performances like he did in this first half on a consistent basis.
Combining with Anthony Caceres, the pair drove right at the heart of the Newcastle midfield, giving high quality service to the Sydney front line that struggled in the opening two games.
Retre stood head and shoulders above the rest, with his pinpoint ball releasing Le Fondre to earn the penalty, and his looped ball over the top of the Newcastle defence helped set up the second goal.
Make no mistake, it is not going to be easy replicating what Brattan brings to the table, but Retre showed that he is more than capable of being an able replacement in the middle of the park.
THE VALENTINO YUEL SHOW
The Jets have shown that they have great attacking flair this season, with their new foreigners in Beka Mikeltadze, Olivier Boumal and Daniel Penha able to take apart any defence on their day.
However it was Valentino Yuel who stole the show and led the fightback for the Novocastrians. After going close in the first half, two clinical finishes helped bring the Jets back into the game, and continue what has been a great start to the season for the 27 year-old.
If he can consistently finish off chances like this going forward, he could come one of the most impactful players in the league.
It would also do the Jets the world of good if he and the Jets forwards can keep this predatory instinct long-term.
MORE DROPPED POINTS FOR SYDNEY
Sydney FC are a side that have become accustomed to and excepting of great success.
However, more dropped points in a game where they led by two is far from ideal for Steve Corica’s men. The draw leaves them with only two points, and could see them drop as far as seven points off the top of the table depending on other results.
Of course, it is only three games in, but with how close the race for the minor premiership will be this season, they are dropped points that could prove crucial come the end of the season.
It also sees the continuation of a worrying trend from last season, where the Sky Blues failed to convert the multitude of chances they created.
It’s hardly panic stations yet, but Sydney have to start winning games, otherwise they risk being left behind by the sides at the top of the league.
A-League Men’s Round Three, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Sydney FC 2 (Le Fondre 9m, Kamsoba 30m)
Newcastle Jets 2 (Yuel 57m, 65m)
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAID:
Sydney FC: Steve Corica
“Was an entertaining game for the fans. I thought we played really well, we scored early goals in the first half, dominated the first half. Obviously with the second half with the goal gives them momentum, and they got the second one.
“But just a bit frustrating from my half – the third goal looks like a goal to me – come off one of their players so it can’t be offside, and he wasn’t offside anyway. It’s just disappointing, because I thought that, in my opinion, that the referee got a few bad decisions wrong.”
Newcastle Jets: Arthur Papas
“We got punished on the counter attack but I think our response was fantastic.
“We had the belief to keep playing and we didn’t want to preserve, and we had that belief to get back into the game. It could have gone either way.”