Jets coach takes little heart from salvage job

COACH Gary van Egmond was thinking damage control when the Jets conceded their second goal inside five minutes against the Melbourne Heart.

As far as horror shows go, it was better than anything Freddy Krueger could have scripted.

The clock had ticked over to 35 seconds when a sloppy attempted clearance by Scott Neville fell into the path of an unmarked Richie Garcia, who could not believe his luck as he slotted past a stranded keeper Matthew Nash.

Four minutes later, rookie defender Connor Chapman was given a harsh lesson on consequences when he was late into a challenge on the Heart goalscorer, knocking him to the ground inside the box.

Josip Tadic converted from the spot, sending Nash the wrong way for 2-0.

That the Jets were able to stage a miraculous comeback and salvage a 3-all draw at AAMI Park on Saturday night was testament to their resolve and strike power once momentum is on their side.

"Performance-wise this result sums us up," a bemused van Egmond said.

"We have had some poor performances within the year and then we have done some really good things. We are pretty inconsistent.

"The one thing for sure is that there is no way that we are going to be serious title challengers while we are conceding the amount of goals we are conceding. That is definitely something we have to rectify."

Van Egmond made four changes, one enforced for Mark Birighitti (fractured jaw), from the side embarrassed 3-0 by Wellington Phoenix.

Phoenix's treble made it 13 goals in seven games the Jets had given up.

All week the talk had been on defence and stemming the flow of goals.

That went out the window when Neville was unable to handle a long diagonal ball from Patrick Gerhardt intended for David Williams.

It was kamikaze stuff at times.

The Heart could easily have been 4-0 up at half-time.

Williams and Aziz Behich tormented Neville and James Brown down the Jets' right side. Garcia and Tadic also found space too easily.

When asked what went through his mind after the Heart scored the second goal, van Egmond said: "It is a case of having a look at what the Heart are doing and trying to understand if it was pressure from them or if it is self-inflicted.

"I definitely think it was the latter and to try and change that, try and ensure you have the least amount of damage going into half-time, then you can get them in and start to change things."

The Jets were a different side after the break.

The injection of former Heart man Craig Goodwin for Brown in the 56th minute was the catalyst for an amazing turn of events.

Refreshed after returning home to Adelaide for a few days rest and relaxation, Goodwin made an instant impact, sneaking in at the back post to squeeze home a Ruben Zadkovich cross.

Zadkovich levelled the scores with a thunderbolt eight minutes later.

In a game of twists and turns, Garcia swung the game back in favour of the hosts, slotting home a Matt Thompson cross for 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining.

Again it was one of the Jets young guns who came to the fore.

With four minutes on the clock, substitute James Virgili went on a slalom run into the penalty area and was collected in a clumsy challenge by Simon Colosimo.

Ryan Griffith stepped up and coolly slotted the spot kick.

"If you have the answer to how we turned it around in the second half, I would love to know," van Egmond said with a laugh at the post-match press conference.

"There wasn't much I said at half-time, but you change things up. The players were disappointed with their first-half performance and it is great we got the response we got in the second half."

On Goodwin and Virgili, he said: "It was great to have two players come off the bench and provide that impact."

Despondent Heart coach John Aloisi was left to lament a wasted opportunity.

"Maybe it was too easy for them," Aloisi said.

"I have been in games like that. You are 2-0 up and it is easy and you stop doing those little things that made it work in the first half.

"Newcastle didn't really change anything but we just lost our shape, lost our way and they started to play around us.

"We were lucky to go back up in the second half and make it 3-2 because that was the only chance we had.

"It has happened too many times this year. We have to make sure we stay focused for 90 minutes. When you are two, three, four-nil up you have to stay focused and do the right things."

The draw was the Jets' first of the season and moved them to 13 points, and kept them safely in the top four ahead of the trip to Brisbane to take on two-time champions the Roar.

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