Newcastle Jets were held to a 1-1 draw by Western Sydney Wanderers in the Member-only trial match at Wanderers Oval on Saturday.
In a tight duel, Scott Neville’s first half screamer was cancelled out by Dino Kresinger’s headed goal midway through the second half.
The Jets started the brighter, with a golden opportunity to open the scoring inside the first five minutes squandered by Jobe Wheelhouse.
He was played in behind the Wanderers defence by a deft ball over the top by Ryan Griffiths.
With only goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson to beat, Wheelhouse’s low shot looked to be headed towards the bottom corner only for Tyson to stick a leg out a deny the Jets skipper.
The Jets didn’t have to wait long to hit the front though, with Scott Neville unleashing a powerful strike from 25 metres that rocketed into the top corner to give the home side a 1-0 lead after nine minutes.
As the first half wore on, the Jets continued to control the lion’s share of possession, with Brazilian recruit Bernardo Ribeiro getting plenty of touches in his first starting appearance at his new club.
However, the Jets were unable to turn their possession into clear-cut goalscoring opportunities and had to settle for speculative efforts from outside the penalty area.
Wanderers, meanwhile, also struggled to create opportunities in the final third, although striker Kresinger proved to be a constant nuisance to the Jets backline.
In the dying minutes of the first half James Virgili went to ground after working his way into the box, but Jets’ appeals for a penalty were denied.
Newcastle started the second half in positive fashion, earning back-to-back corners, but was unable to apply the finishing touches.
Western Sydney got back on level terms in the 61st minute courtesy of Kresinger. Adam D’Apuzzo carried the ball forward from left-back before picking out Kresinger with a pin-point cross and the Croatian made no mistake with his header.
The Jets had two chances to regain the lead shortly after. Firstly, Josh Mitchell shot over from close range under pressure from the Wanderers defence after a Ruben Zadkovich free-kick fell kindly for him at the back post.
Not long after, Craig Goodwin had his shot tipped over the bar by Tyson after he was played through by half-time substitute Mitch Oxborrow.
The day proved a big hit with Jets Members. Jets and Broadmeadow Magic officials estimating a turnout of around 4000.
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan, defender Pedj Bojic and midfielder Oliver Bozanic look to have played their last games for Central Coast Mariners as the A-League champion faces a raft of departures.