The Newcastle Jets have made F3 Derby history, as they notched their fourth straight win over the Central Coast Mariners at Gosford this afternoon.
All anyone could talk about in the lead up was the return of Roy O’Donovan, as the striker finished his 10-game suspension dating back to the Hyundai A-League 2018 Grand Final.
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With the hype and build up out of the way, it was time for the 45th F3 Derby.
Jets fans travelled in their numbers, marching through the streets of Gosford before filling the away bays in a huge show of support.
Many predicted one-way traffic, but the Mariners showed they were up for the fight, enjoying the bulk of possession and territory in the opening stages.
Despite that dominance, neither side registered a shot on goal until O’Donovan stretched Adam Pearce from long range at the quarter-hour mark.
After a period of play that didn’t offer a great deal to the neutral, the Jets hit their straps and went close through Petratos – who fired one over the crossbar at close range after a tip on from Jair.
Petratos would again go close, forcing Pearce into a diving save from an attacking free kick, the ensuing corner would then see Jair fire a powerful volley over the crossbar.
Unable to convert their dominance onto the scoresheet, the Jets soon found themselves a goal down as Matt Simon headed home in the 35th minute.
Tempers flared as the half progressed, with Alex King dishing out yellow cards thick and fast. McGlinchey getting things started for a challenge on O’Donovan, before Pain, Shabow and Moss were all booked for their part in some push and shove.
Close to reaching boiling point after Vargas and Simon stood off, the break came at just the right time.
Jair almost had an equaliser to open the second half, blazing a volley over the crossbar once again, but the Jets were making their intentions clear forcing a myriad of chances.
A heart-in-mouth moment for Jason Hoffman in the second half, dispossessed by Connor Pain in defence, who was only denied by a cool Glen Moss to keep the Jets in touch.
Hoffman would quickly turn hero, heading home to restore parity in the 67th minute from a Jair corner kick.
From there it was all the Jets, as chance after chance was created courtesy of dominant performances in the midfield from Ugarkovic and Kantarovski.
Ronald Vargas would ultimately be the hero, scoring the winner in the 82nd minute after Kaine Sheppard floated a beautiful ball over the Central Coast defence. The Venezuelan cooly finished past Pearce to bag a valuable three points before Christmas.