Jets scramble for 1-1 draw with Gold Coast
A dramatic Nikolai Topor-Stanley goal in the 90th minute gave the Newcastle Jets a last-gasp 1-1 A-League draw with Gold Coast United at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
United had scored on 24 minutes with a clinical strike from Daniel Bowles but were unable to hang on as the Jets surged into fifth spot on the ladder.
With the home side coming off a dominant 3-1 win over the Melbourne Victory last weekend, it was expected the Jets would have too much class for Mike Mulvey's young Gold Coast squad.
Despite the uncertainty of their playing future and without a win since defeating Brisbane Roar on Boxing Day, the youngsters ambushed Newcastle with enthusiastic attacking play.
The first-half chance of the match fell to Gold Coast's Maceo Rigters but the striker was unable to get good contact on the ball and his attempted header flashed wide.
Francis Jeffers should have netted the game's opener for the Jets after 16 minutes but the Englishman's first touch was too heavy and the chance went begging.
The Jets came to rue that missed chance when the visitors took full advantage of a cheap turnover and Bowles netted his first A-League goal with a composed strike after some swift counterattacking from his teammates.
The visitors should have doubled their lead on the half hour but Bowles spurned a golden opportunity, blasting over the top of the bar when one-on-one with Jets keeper Ben Kennedy.
Gary van Egmond's introduction of substitute Jeremy Brockie shortly before halftime came close to paying dividends with the striker heading wide after some strong lead-up play from the Jets.
Jerrad Tyson showed good awareness pulling off a sliding save to deny Taylor Regan on the hour, while his counterpart Kennedy showed similar alertness to thwart a stinging Chris Harold shot ten minutes later.
Brockie had a chance to slot home an equaliser for the home side after 76 minutes but the New Zealand international blasted his shot wide.
While believing that any competition point was valuable at this stage of the season, Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond was disappointed that his side couldn't get the job done at home.
"As far as the balance of the game was concerned, we controlled the most of it," he said.
"What's frustrating is controlling that sort of game and not creating clear-cut opportunities. That is the underlying issue that I see from it."
Gold Coast United coach Mike Mulvey believed his side should have wrapped up the points earlier in the match and, despite the disappointment of the late equaliser, was still encouraged by the performance from his young charges.
"In my view, the game should have well and truly been won by then," he said.
"We're walking away from here with a point and the signs are good from a team perspective, but we've got to learn how to win.
"It doesn't matter if you don't get the penalties, you've still got to close the game out.
"We gave a silly free kick away and we didn't pick up properly on the free kick and Topor-Stanley scores.
"The point is, football goes for 90 minutes."