RIVAL clubs had concerns that the Newcastle Jets youth team would not be up to the rigours of the Northern NSW State League.
Five rounds in and the Jets sit on top of the ladder and are the only club with a perfect record.
Yesterday they came from a goal down to trump a 10-man Hamilton Olympic 3-1 at Darling St Oval.
In fairness, the home side led 1-0 and had controlled the majority of the game until Joel Witherden was sent off in bizarre circumstances in the 50th minute.
Five minutes later the Jets were on level terms after an Olympic own goal.
From there the visitors controlled proceedings.
Midfielder Michael Finlayson put them ahead on the hour when he smashed a shot into the roof of the goal after a miscued header from teammate Josh Small.
Connor Chapman sealed the win with a curling free kick which struck the inside of the right post and angled into the opposite corner with 10minutes remaining.
‘‘We have certainly got a bit of momentum going,’’ coach Arthur Papas said.
‘‘It is good for them. I spoke before the game about what the expectations were from outside our dressing room. Most thought that we were going to struggle.
‘‘I think we have brought good value to the league. There was a good crowd here today and some decent football at times.
‘‘Today, apart from full-time contracted players, there were only two players from interstate. The majority are local born.’’
Witherden was given a straight red card by referee Andrew Higgins after the Olympic defender directed a throw-in straight into the the midriff of Kale Bradberry from close range. Bradberry had raced up to Witherden to prevent him from a quick restart.
‘‘The send-off changes the whole game,’’ frustrated Olympic coach Mick Bolch said.
‘‘With 11 on 11 you are chasing them around the park but when you go down to 10 men they just keep the ball too well.
‘‘Credit to my boys they kept going, but playing with 10 men is impossible.’’
The match was Papas’s last in charge. The ambitious coach flew to Mumbai last night where he has accepted a position at the head of the Indian institute of sport.
He has an exit clause for the first three months of the contract in case he wants to return to the Jets.
Assistant coach James Pascoe will take the Jets’ reins in the short term.
In other State League games yesterday, Joel Hardwick headed home a late equaliser for Weston to draw 1-all with Valentine Phoenix and Charlestown City were too good for cellar dwellers West Wallsend 3-0.
On Saturday, a nine-man South Cardiff came from 3-1 down to beat premiers Broadmeadow Magic 5-4 at Wanderers Oval.
After trailing 2-1 at half-time, the Gunners hit back to lead 4-3 when Jarrod Johnston was sent off after a second bookable offence in the 73rd minute.
They went down to nine five minutes later when replacement Dean Kelly was given a straight red card for a tackle. In between the send-offs Magic equalised.
Just as a draw appeared likely, replacement Jamie Burns scored the winner which took a defection off a sliding defender and went in at the near post.
In the other game on Saturday, Lake Macquarie accounted for Edgeworth 3-0.
In the Herald women’s premier league on Saturday, Lake Macquarie thrashed Valentine 12-0, Adamstown Rosebud beat Merewether 2-0 and Charlestown City drew with Football Mid North Coast 2-all.