CRAIG Goodwin has played a handful of A-League games, but the exciting left back looks set to become a crowd favourite at Hunter Stadium after scoring a spectacular hat-trick in the first 12 minutes in the Newcastle Jets’ 6-0 win over Northern NSW at Darling Street Oval last night.
Adam Taggart added a late brace and fellow sub Mitch Oxborrow hit the target as the Jets made it three wins from as many games in the pre-season.
But it was Goodwin who stole the show.
The Adelaide-born 20-year-old produced three stinging left-foot drives from virtually the same spot, 20metres from goal and at a 45-degree angle.
Northern keeper Brad Swancott did not lay a hand on any of them.
The first arrowed into the top-left corner, the second had the aid of a deflection and the third was a low drive inside the near post.
Last night’s haul followed a 25-metre bomb he scored in the 9-1 demolition of Canberra Rockets a week ago.
Job done, he was replaced at half-time by Swiss recruit Dominik Ritter.
Ritter did not get on the scoresheet but caused havoc with his bursts down the left touchline.
Jets coach Gary van Egmond was unavailable for comment last night but Northern co-coach Damien Smith predicted big things for Goodwin.
‘‘I haven’t seen Goodwin play much, but I tell you what, those three goals were pretty impressive,’’ Smith said.
‘‘He didn’t have a great deal of space, he just bombed them.
‘‘The crowd will love him if he can do that.
‘‘I thought Ritter also did well when he came on.
‘‘As a defensive player he was good.
‘‘You can’t give any of these guys space. Our boys tried to shut them down, but they are fit and sharp, so well organised.’’
As they did in the opening two trials, the Jets dominated possession and field position.
On the rare occasions that Northern had the ball in enemy territory Ben Kantarovski, Tiago and Josh Mitchell moved quickly to close them down.
Northern regrouped after the early barrage and were competitive.
They were unlucky not to pull a goal back on the stroke of half-time after Kantarovski turned the ball over deep inside his own half.
Peter Haynes struck a powerful shot, which was dipping under the bar until Ben Kennedy rose high and got a fingertip to it.
As well as Ritter, Michael Bridges and Mark Birighitti were introduced for the second half.
Bridges was denied by a brilliant double save from Brad Swancott.
The Englishman then produced a neat bit of trickery to set up Oxborrow for a tap-in to make it 4-0 on the hour.
The Jets continued to make inroads down both flanks, but to their credit, Northern held on until the final five minutes.
The Jets have scored 18 goals in three matches.
Van Egmond is looking to add two more players to the final third and the Herald understands a Scottish attacker arrived yesterday for a trial.
The Jets play Northern again on August 8 at Jack McLaughlan Oval and Smith is confident of an improved performance.
‘‘I was proud of our boys,’’ he said.
‘‘We conked out at the end, but I thought second half we did OK.
‘‘We changed our shape at half-time to clog the midfield up. We put some young legs out there to combat their mobility.
‘‘Next time the players will know what to expect and will be better prepared.’’
Jets (4-1-2-3): Ben Kennedy; Scot Neville, Tiago, Josh Mitchell, Craig Goodwin; Ben Kantarovski; Jacob Pepper, Ruben Zadkovich; James Virgili, Ryan Griffiths, James Brown.
● The Jets have appointed Tim Rogers as the club’s strength and conditioning coach.
Rogers joins the Jets from the Stade Francais Paris rugby club. He has worked with the Matildas, the Australian Institute of Sport, and the Newcastle Knights.