BROADMEADOW coach Damian Smith had no hesitation in nominating the Newcastle Jets youth team as the biggest threat to Magic’s quest for back-to-back Northern NSW State League titles after a pulsating clash at Wanderers Oval yesterday.
Magic, minus suspended captain John Bennis, needed all their experience to overpower the Jets 2-0 in an up-tempo, end-to-end affair that was not decided until the dying moments.
With the majority of the Jets senior squad, as well as chief executive Robbie Middleby and Hunter Sports Group chief executive Troy Palmer, in the stands, the young Jets, who were also missing key men, gave as good as they got.
But in the end they paid the price for two errors.
One resulted in a goal to Rhys Tippett in the 20th minute.
The other, two minutes from time, had the same outcome with replacement Chris Berlin the beneficiary.
‘‘They are the best side we have played so far,’’ a relieved Smith said.
‘‘It was only towards the end when we got the second goal that we were comfortable. It could have gone either way.’’
Tippett swooped on a wayward pass and poked a neat right-foot shot past advancing keeper James Fogarty to put Magic ahead.
The home side had slightly the better of play until the hour mark.
Peter Haynes was denied by two good saves from Fogarty, but the high-pressing game employed by Magic took its toll in the final quarter of the match.
‘‘We knew the last 20 minutes they would come at us,’’ Smith said.
Though disappointed with the result, Jets coach James Pascoe was relatively happy with the performance.
‘‘I thought it was clearly the two best teams in the competition out there today,’’ Pascoe said.
‘‘The most experienced team won.
‘‘A game of football has a lot of key moments in it, and in more of those key moments Magic got the right outcome.
‘‘Hats off to them. It was a good contest and I’m sure we will have lots to learn when we go back and review it.’’
In other games yesterday, Hamilton Olympic stormed past South Cardiff 3-0, bringing an end to the Gunners’ five-game winning streak.
Chris Turner marked his first game back in charge of Lake Macquarie with a 3-0 win over West Wallsend, and Edgeworth beat Valentine Phoenix 3-0.
On Saturday, Charlestown City trumped Weston 3-1.
In first division, Lambton Jaffas thrashed Singleton 11-0 to maintain their three-point buffer at the top of the table.
In other games, Adamstown thumped Cessnock 5-1, Maitland accounted for Thornton 3-0, and Toronto-Awaba edged past Belmont-Swansea 4-3.