Neither could side could find the back of the net as Newcastle and Brisbane were forced to share the spoils
|By MARK HUGHES
It was a night for the goalkeepers as the Newcastle Jets and the Brisbane Roar played out an entertaining 0-0 draw at a rain-soaked Hunter Stadium on Friday.
Newcastle custodian Mark Birighitti and opposite number Michael Theo produced some top saves to keep clean sheets as the game ebbed and flowed with the Jets starting well before the Roar took control until half-time.
The home side came out more determined in the second half and forced several strong saves from Theo.
For the most part of the second half, the Roar attacked on the counter but could not get past the Jets glovesman and in the end both sides had to settle for a draw.
The draw sees both sides stay in the hunt for a finals place with Newcastle climbing to 27 points – equal with fifth-placed Sydney FC – while the Roar are just two points behind in seventh.
The Jets started brightly and had several great chances to open the scoring inside the first 10 minutes.
Emile Heskey hit the post in the sixth minute when he got on the end of a Zenon Caravella cross before an unmarked Adam Taggart miscued his shot from inside the box just a few moments later.
It started pouring rain in the 12th minute and it seemed to spark the Roar into action.
Thomas Brioch saw his shot well saved by a desperate Birighitti in the Newcastle goal after a break by Brisbane striker Besart Berisha.
A few moments later the Jets custodian was again called into action to cut off a Broich pass to Berisha in front goal.
The Roar started to control proceedings and looked like taking the lead when Ivan Franic played in Berisha but Birighitti spread himself to deny the Albanian marksman.
The visitors continued to attack and eventually put the ball in the net just before half-time when
Jade North got on the end of Broich cross but the goal appeared to be wrongly disallowed for offside.
The Jets tried to wrestle back control of the match at the start of the second half and almost broke the deadlock when Ruben Zadkovich fired a low left-foot shot from outside the area that forced a fine diving save from Theo in the 52nd minute.
Theo produced another reflex save to deny Taggart who fired a stinging shot from the edge of the area after receiving a deft ball from Heskey while down the other end, Birighitti produced another strong save to deny a skimming shot from Stefan Nijland.
Jets substitute James Virgili looked dangerous when he came on for Taggart in the 81st minute and produced a fine weaving run but his pass into the area went behind Heskey and Ryan Griffiths.
Heksey sent a shot over the bar from range before the hard-working Roar defence did well to block shots from Jets substitute Mitch Cooper and Zadkovich as the sides drew.