Captain Fantastic: Rare Jamieson goal highlights regulation City win

Not every triumph across a premiership winning season is going to be a comprehensive thrashing. Across the length and breadth of a campaign – even one as short as the A-League – premierships hopefuls will inevitably be forced to grind down an opposition determined not to become yet another highlight on a trophy winning season. It’s an important part of establishing one’s bonafides.

Yet unfortunately for the Newcastle Jets, even though they did everything in their power to confound and frustrate league-leading Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Thursday, they still found themselves on the wrong side of a comfortable 3-1 win by the Citizens. 

And they ended up on Scott Jamieson’s personal highlight reel anyway.

It wasn’t an embarrassing defeat by any stretch of the imagination – and lord knows that City have handed out a few of those this season – and while the Jets probably weren’t the best value for their late goal on the balance of play, it perhaps was a fitting reward for their steadfastness in the face of an onslaught.

But in the end, no amount of diligence on the part of the visitors likely would have been enough to close the sheer gap in high-end talent that existed between the side that resides at the foot of the A-League table and the Socceroo and likely Socceroo-laden one at its peak.

“They’re a good team and they’re in the position on the ladder they’re in for that reason,” Jets’ coach Craig Deans said.

“We under no illusions the game was going to be and we tried our best to keep them quiet but there’s only so long you can keep that amount of quality players quiet for.

“We come into every game wanting to get something out of the game and obviously this is no different, but we knew this was a big challenge – especially away from home.”

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City seized control of possession almost as soon as the opening whistle blew at AAMI Park and promptly began poking and prodding at their foes, with English winger Craig Noone going closest to cracking their facade first with a cross that was just unable to be turned home in the 8th minute and a cut inside and shot ten minutes later.

Nonetheless, the Jets held out early; City coach Patrick Kisnorbo admitting after the game that he thought his side was too blunt in the opening stanza.

“We knew it was going to be a hard game tonight,” he said.

“I think at the start we didn’t create… I think we were forcing the ball too much in the first half.”

But the dam eventually burst, and with the hosts taking the lead when a desperate attempt by Johnny Koutroumbis to clear an Andrew Nabbout cross for Adrian Luna instead ended up in the back of his own net, their securement of a four-point buffer atop the A-League table then sealed in the second half thanks to goals from Jamieson (really) and Jamie Maclaren. 

The latter’s goal, a neatly taken volley from a Nabbout cross, saw him equal Bruno Fornaroli’s club record and move to 99 all-time A-League goals. For the former, his sharp one-two with Luna and curling finish was his first league goal since November 15, 2014: when he scored what would be the winning goal in Perth Glory’s 2-1 win over Western Sydney.

“Obviously we got a goal through Andy and we pushed on from there,” said Kisnorbo. “We could have created a bit more, I think. I was please with the way we managed [the game].

“You’re not going to score every chance when you go forward, so I was really happy with the way we managed the ball in their half.”

Nonetheless, with time running down, Ugarkovic capped off a quick move in transition after Matt Millar forced a turnover to make it 3-1 in the 87th minute – potentially giving the Jets something to build on as they seek to snap an 11-game winless run against Sydney FC on Saturday week. 

“To be fair to the players,” said Deans, “To go 3-0 down and not throw the towel in and keep working hard and score a goal and make it 3-1 and still have the energy and commitment to keep working hard and trying to change the game, I can’t fault their effort.

“It’s just the quality, the difference in quality – that’s the difference in the game.”

City, retaining a game in hand on their nearby rivals, will prepare to head West to take on Perth Glory next Wednesday.

“[I’m] disapointed [to concede a late goal], said Kisnorbo. “As a defender, when you concede a goal like that towards the end of the game… you want clean sheets and it frustrates you.

“It’s a moment we can learn from and we’ve got to realise that until the whistle has gone we can’t switch off. We can’t be lazy in our passing because any team can punish you, and that’s what happened.”

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne City

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