NEWCASTLE Jets produced a classic hit-and-run job to upset leaders Brisbane Roar 2-0 at Suncorp Stadium last night and stay in touch of the A-League top three heading into Christmas.
An own goal by rookie James Donachie in the 34th minute and a late goal from substitute Joey Gibbs was enough for the Jets to secure a valuable three points and continue their great record in Brisbane.
Although it won’t go onto his account, Andrew Hoole at least deserved an assist for his part in the first goal.
The 20-year-old made a great run down the right then muscled past Matt Smith. As he approached the byline the winger arrowed a cross towards Adam Taggart at the far post.
Donachie slid in to intercept but knocked the ball into his own net.
It took until the 50th minute for the Jets to record their first shot on goal, a stinging effort from Taggart which whizzed past the post.
Most of their work was done at the other end.
They scrapped and fought as though their lives depended on it and frustrated the home side on a bumpy pitch.
Danger man Besart Berisha, who had scored seven goals in the past eight games, was well contained by Taylor Regan and Kew Jaliens.
German Thomas Broich was also kept quiet in the Jets’ best defensive performance of the season.
Gibbs secured the result in the 87th minute when he controlled a Josh Brillante cross from the right and stabbed the ball past advancing keeper Michael Theo.
The win was the Jets’ fifth and moved them to 18 points, alongside third-placed Sydney, who play in Wellington tomorrow.
In nine years of the A-League no team placed lower than third at Christmas have gone on to win the title.
The Jets travelled north minus marquee striker Emile Heskey (knee) and in-form wing man Nathan Burns (knee), but not without confidence.
In 11 trips to Brisbane the Jets had won seven and drawn two.
Adding to the positive mindset was a 2-1 win at Hunter Stadium in round six, the Roar’s last loss.
Large sections of the Suncorp Stadium pitch had to be replaced and much of the remainder was bumpy and bare after Taylor Swift and Bon Jovi concerts, the second of which was on Tuesday night.
In their last 10 encounters, one goal or fewer was all that had separated the teams.
It didn’t seem like that would be the case early.
The home side dominated as the Jets struggled to adapt to a change in formation from 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield.
The Roar created chance after chance in the opening 25 minutes.
Van Egmond had seen enough.
He switched to a front three in attack, but with the wingers dropping back to form a five-man midfield in defence.
Almost instantly they looked more comfortable. They stemmed the flow of Brisbane’s attack, created a couple of half chances then took the lead.