Rookie Chapman overcomes nightmare start

CONNOR Chapman felt like digging a hole and jumping in.

Five minutes into his starting debut, the boom teenage Jets defender committed a cardinal sin.

He stuck a late leg out in the penalty area.

The contact was not severe but it was enough to send former Socceroo Richie Garcia sprawling on to the turf.

Referee Jarred Gillett had no option but to point to the spot.

Josip Tadic calmly converted, and it was 2-0 after five minutes.

Welcome to the A-League, son.

"It was one of those things - you think you are going to get there and I put my leg out and he has already touched it," Chapman told the Herald.

"It was the worse possible start I could have. I said to the boys 'I just wanted to dig a hole and jump in it'. But you can't do that in football. You have to keep going and try as hard as you can."

After a few more nervous moments, Chapman, whose mum, sister and grandmother had travelled from Sydney for the occasion, worked his way into the contest.

Indeed, it was the rookie's desperate tackle at the death on Simon Colosimo just as the former Socceroo was about to put boot to ball that ensured the Jets escaped with a point.

"I was happy to make that clearance at the end but for me, it is about my performance over the whole game," Chapman said.

"The start wasn't good enough. I thought in the second half I done a little bit better."

Chapman's promotion came at the expense of experienced Brazilian Tiago, who became the first casualty from a Jets defence that had leaked 13 goals before Saturday.

The defence was again porous, but coach Gary van Egmond was relatively happy with the performance of Chapman.

"In general, I thought he did a good job and he is only going to get better with the more experience he gains," the coach said.

"He provides a good outlet in regards to his passing and being able to build up play.

"Defensively, he needs to understand when he can and can't win a ball.

"There were a couple of times where he really wasn't going to win a ball but he went in and maybe he could have dropped off.

"They are the things he has to learn. He has the right attitude, he has a lot of talent and hopefully he can fulfil that."

Chapman captained the Joeys at the FIFA under-17 World Cup and was an integral member of the Young Socceroos squad, which early this month qualified for the under-20 World Cup.

Though similar in intensity, Chapman said A-League games were a step up in pace.

"Just the experience of playing against men," he said. "You can train with men but training is nothing compared to games. It is more the decision making.

"The players are that little bit sharper. It is definitely something you have to get used to."

Van Egmond said he was committed to working with the young players at the club.

"We've made a pretty decent pact that the young kids we've brought in, we'll develop them," he said.

"We're pretty committed to these kids coming through and that's something as the Newcastle Jets coach and Newcastle Jets club that we stand for."

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