All the goals came in the first half as the Newcastle Jets defeated Sydney FC 2-1, ending a rotten run of form for the hosts
|By MARK HUGHES
Goals to Craig Goodwin and Emile Heskey have seen the Newcastle Jets halt a three-game losing streak with a fighting 2-1 win over Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
After starting the A-League season brightly the Jets have fallen into a rut over the past month-and-a-half but they managed to turn their fortunes around against their F3 rivals, who turned in a performance of a side equally down on confidence.
The Jets looked the hungrier of the two sides and started brightly with goals to Goodwin and Heskey inside the first half hour.
Sydney were forced to attack on the counter relying primarily on marquee man Alessandro Del Piero after midfielder Brett Emerton succumbed to an injury after just 30 minutes of play.
The Italian superstar almost turned the game for the visitors when he played in Yairo Yau for a goal against the run of play just after the half-hour mark.
But the Jets managed to wrestle back control of the match in the second half and went on to claim a deserved victory.
The win sees the Jets maintain a spot in the top six while Sydney are still anchored to the bottom of the ladder.
The match started in warm sunny conditions and it was the home side who had the first shot on goal in the eighth minute of the match when Ryan Griffiths laid the ball back for Josh Brillante who fired his long-range effort wide of the target.
Livewire Jets winger James Virgili was causing Sydney fullback Fabio plenty of problems and it was a pacey run that led to the first goal for Newcastle when the defender gave away a free kick just on the edge of the area after a clumsily challenge.
Craig Goodwin stepped up and curled an amazing effort from an acute angle over the top of Vedran Janjetovic and into the far corner of the net to give the Jets a 1-0 lead after 12 minutes.
Virgili went close to doubling the home side's advantage just a few moments later when he weaved into the box and fired low at the near post only to see Janjetovic get down low to produce a sharp save.
Another incisive run from Virgili led to Newcastle's second goal when he got in behind Fabio and took the ball the edge of the six-yard box before firing a loss cross across the face of the goal for Emile Heskey to poke home from two metres out to make it 2-0 after 27 minutes.
Sydney received a body blow when they were forced to replace hard-working midfielder Brett Emerton with Peter Triantis on the half-hour mark after he appeared to suffer a hamstring strain.
Sydney hit back against the run of play when Del Piero played a lovely through ball for Yario Yau. Jets defender Connor Chapman made the mistake of sliding in for the ball but the Sydney striker kept his feet and went one on one with goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, who parried the first shot before Yau pounced on the loose ball to slot into an empty net to make it 2-1 after 32 minutes.
Sydney sensed a change in momentum and went close to equalising when Terry Antonis floated a looping cross into the box where an unmarked Ali Abbas met it with a volley at the back post, but he flashed his shot just wide of the target.
It was the home side who finished the half the stronger with Goodwin and Brilliante firing narrowly wide of the target for Newcastle and the teams headed for the break with the score at 2-1.
Sydney coach Frank Farina made a change at half-time replacing Fabio and bringing Nathan Sherlock on at right back and switching Rhyan Grant to left back to mark Virgili.
The switch almost had immediate effect when Grant played in Abbas who popped a chip shot over the advancing Birighitti only to see Chapman clear off the line.
The visitors threatened again when Del Piero played in Yau but he was shut down by the Jets defence before as he unleashed his shot.
The Jets weathered the early storm and wrestled back control of the match to fashion a number of chances.
Griffiths forced a great diving save from Janjetovic on the hour mark when he rose high to head another dangerous swinging free-kick from Goodwin.
Goodwin had another free-kick saved by Janjetovic, Jets skipper Ruben Zadkovich fired a blazing volley just wide of the mark before a scrambling Sydney defence managed to clear the ball after a surge and cross from Virgili, who shone on a day belonging to the Newcastle side.