Sport Football Ugarkovic goal keeps Jets in A-League finals contention

Ugarkovic goal keeps Jets in A-League finals contention

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Olyroo Steven Ugarkovic has steered Newcastle to a 1-0 win over Central Coast to keep the Jets in A-League finals calculations.

The 21-year-old scored his first goal for the Jets in an open-ended F3 derby at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday – their first win at this venue in more than eight years.

It lifts Scott Miller’s eighth-placed side four points shy of the top six.

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The Mariners, meanwhile, have now gone 23 successive games without a clean sheet in a new, unenviable A-League record.

Despite this the home side were spirited, exposed the Jets’ defence and made them work to hold their lead.

But the visitors enjoyed the better chances.

Mateo Poljak’s bullet was denied, while Morten Nordstrand took time to find the range that yielded a brace last week against Wellington.

Jason Hoffman celebrates his team's win. Photo: AAP
Jason Hoffman celebrates his team’s win. Photo: AAP

The former Danish international cleared the crossbar twice – the latter a mile off target – before bouncing back to deliver the Jets’ closest opportunity.

Back-in-form Brazilian Leonardo laid a superb ball into the box, from which Nordstrand looped in a swerving high strike that would have made for a stylish goal had Izzo not launched into an equally spectacular mid-air save, tipping the ball over the bar.

Luis Garcia arguably should have scored, but failed to get any angle on a goalmouth header from a Mitch Austin corner.

Coach Tony Walmsley will have just been relieved that his marquee man was still playing after an early injury scare.

Walmsley was frozen to the spot in his dugout for numerous anxious minutes while Garcia lay on the turf after appearing to tweak his hamstring – later diagnosed as a corked thigh.

But the 37-year-old was soon back on his feet and moving freely throughout his hour on field, falling again only when Daniel Mullen saw yellow for a heavy challenge.

Garcia orchestrated another chance, feeding to Josh Bingham before receiving again to fire a long-range shot that beat Mark Birighitti but whizzed past the outside of the right post.

Newcastle’s second-half performance was decidedly glum, and in the end they scored from nothing.

Down the right of midfield, Nordstrand poked a pass in the direction of Ugarkovic who, thanks to Josh Rose’s sloppy defending, had ample space to bury the ball in the back of the net.

The Mariners threw everything at the toiling Jets in the last 10 minutes, but the home side desperately held on.

Mariners’ skipper Nick Montgomery will be unavailable for next week’s clash with Melbourne Victory after being shown his eighth yellow card, in a heated moment that sparked a melee.


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