Pain and gain for Jets in state league debut

THE Newcastle Jets youth team’s first taste of the Northern NSW State League ended in a 1-0 victory yesterday over Valentine Phoenix, but also came with some pain.

Striker Dino Fajkovic hobbled from the lush Cahill Oval pitch with a severely swollen right ankle after an ugly challenge from Phoenix central defender Scott McGinley in the 71st minute.

McGinley was handed a straight red for the tackle.

Fajkovic, a former South Cardiff target man, was cleared of a break last night but may have ligament damage.

The Jets dominated possession throughout the match and at times appeared to be going through a training drill.

Under-17 Joeys winger Luke Remington scored the only goal of the match, in the fifth minute.

Midfielder Anthony Ragusa fed a through-ball to Fajkovic, whose shot was blocked by goalkeeper Nathan Archbold.

Winger James Virgili then knocked the rebound on to Remington, who placed his shot into the roof of the unguarded net.

From there the Jets lacked the polish in the final third to consolidate their dominance.

Attacking midfielder Kale Bradbery and Remington had shots blocked by Archbold, but the second half produced no clear-cut chances.

‘‘I think if you control this much of a game you’re disappointed to win 1-0 and you make things difficult for yourself,’’ coach Arthur Papas said.

‘‘I think that’s the beauty of playing in a senior competition. It doesn’t come as easily when you have this much possession to create chances, and that’s what they’re here to learn from.’’

The slow pitch and a physical Phoenix, who were also handed four yellow cards, further frustrated the Jets’ attack.

‘‘If they’re in the senior competition, they’ve got to be able to put up with it,’’ Papas said. ‘‘I looked at it today and the average age of our team was 18 on the dot, which is extremely young for a team in a senior competition, but I think they showed they’re going to be OK.’’

Papas said McGinley’s challenge on Fajkovic was poor, but Valentine coach Lindsay Tapp disagreed.

‘‘I’m not sure if that was a red card,’’ Tapp said. ‘‘Most of their guys thought it wasn’t, and at 1-0 I thought we were just coming back into the game then and a few of the boys felt the momentum was good and then we get a straight red.’’

Broadmeadow Magic are also licking their wounds after their 2-1 victory over West Wallsend at Johnston Park.

Striker Chris Berlin has a suspected medial ligament injury in his knee, and John Bennis and Luke Virgili have corked thighs.

Magic lost Matt Hoole (corked thigh) when he failed a fitness test in the warm-up.

Prolific goal-scorer Peter Haynes opened the scoring for Magic in the first half when he converted a penalty won by Berlin.

Just after the break the defending champions extended their lead when defender Josh Piddington headed home a corner.

The Bluebells fought back in the dying stages when former Magic midfielder Roger Dowdell scored in his first match at West Wallsend.

Charlestown City Blues played with 10 men for 70 minutes last night to beat Lake Macquarie 3-2 at Macquarie Field in their first game back in the state league since 2008.

The Blues had striker Kane Goodchild red-carded in the 20th minute due to an illegal challenge but still led 3-0 at half-time through a brace to Scott Smith and a goal to Daniel Bird.

Former North Queensland Fury striker Alex Read scored twice in the second half in his first match for the Roosters.

Tomorrow, South Cardiff host Weston at Ulinga Oval.

Edgeworth and Hamilton Olympic complete the opening round on Monday at Jack McLaughlan Oval.

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