How good was last night at Hunter Stadium. It wasn't the Jets first win over Victory (in fact it was one of many) but it was arguably the most meaningful. Any Jets' fans reading this will know how tough the last few seasons have been and tonight was one of the better nights in recent memory.
Sure there were memorable goals under the horror reign of Phil Stubbins but there wasn't any hope. The Jets beat Victory late in the season last year but it meant nothing as the season was already over. This season's just getting started and the Jets sit on six points out of nine.
Last year the club had to wait until Round 11 for their first win and only won three games all season. It's in fact the club's best opening three weeks since the 2011/12 A-League season. Sure, it could all go South but at the moment the Jets sit in the top four and have played with passion and pride...something that wasn't seen too much last season.
It'd be easy for fans to get ahead of themselves but it wasn't the most convincing win last night. The Jets frustrated Victory and when the script called for a heartbreaking equaliser, they held onto the lead...something they couldn't do last season. How many times have Jets fans had to cop their side conceding a late goal to drop points. Last night was an ugly win but the sort of ugly win that installs confidence in a defensive line.
On the topic of defence, at times it was brilliant but at other times it was absolute shambles. Daniel Mullen's attempted clearance saw him quite literally pass the ball to Besart Berisha and it was only a quality hand from Ben Kennedy that spared the former Wanderers' blushes.
Up the other end, Milos Trifunovic could have and perhaps should have ended the night with a hat-trick and the game ball in hand. His finishing was agonising to watch at times. If his first early attempt had of gone in, perhaps he would have ended the night with a couple of goals but instead he was frustrated by missing the net. If Trifunovic can fire than anything is possible.
How about debutant Lachlan Jackson. He wasn't the best player on the field and was at times outplayed but marking Kosta Barbarouses isn't the easiest job in the A-League and the former Roar defender got through his first game at Newcastle with a clean-sheet. He was replaced by local talent Nick Cowburn who reminded the Jets why he should be on a senior contract.
Victory had an off-night and would have no doubt frustrated their fans in the way they were playing. Fahid Ben Khalfallah showed flashes of brilliance and Kosta Barbarouses didn't stop making dangerous runs down the right flank all night.
It wasn't the best game from Leigh Broxham and perhaps Victory may go with Thomas Deng at centre-back next weekend as the youngster showed a lot of potential in the derby last weekend. Dylan Murnane didn't have his best game either but did come close to scoring a goal in the first half. With players like Scott Galloway and Jason Geria in reserves, there's no shortage of fullbacks at Victory.
The game ended 1-0 but honestly it could have been a 5-4 or something along those lines if both sides buried their chances. There were countless goal attempts that should have been scored. They weren't though and the Jets held on for a gutsy win.
Man of the Match: David Carney (NEW)
Somewhere in Adelaide last night, Phil Stubbins would have been shaking his head at the TV watching David Carney celebrate one of the better free-kicks in recent memory at Hunter Stadium. It was a disgrace the way Carney was shunned from the squad. Yours truly felt disappointed with the first couple of games Carney played last season but he has turned it around in a big way since then.
He was superb in Wellington two weeks ago and was again the best player on the night last night. His efforts in tracking back could be better but he more than makes up for it going forward. Left-side or right-side, Carney can whip in some dangerous crosses, corners and as seen last night, free kicks.
I sat there wondering why Carney wasn't taking the free kick but then the quick lay-off and as soon as Carney hit it you knew it was going in. It was a brilliant set-piece and left Danny Vukovic stranded in goals. Not many goalkeepers would have saved that, let alone be expecting a play like that to be attempted.
Carney will be key for the Jets this year and I must stress that if he, Leonardo or Trifunovic get injured then the side will be in serious trouble. Depth is a worry at the club but for now the times are good and the club is on the rebound after some truly tough times.
|Catching up with the Man of the Match.|