JAMES Brown made a successful return from ankle surgery to play his first competitive match for the Jets and inspire the National Youth League side to a thrilling 2-all draw with Western Sydney at Wanderers Oval last night.
Brown, who resumed full training this week after an operation in August to remove a bone spur, played the final 30 minutes of the round-two match as the Jets came back from 2-0 down.
The 22-year-old Olyroo put in several crisp crosses, had two shots on goal denied and showed the speed and skill that made him the Jets' first major recruit for 2012-13 when he signed in February from the Gold Coast on a two-year deal.
Brown last played for Newcastle in the spiteful 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix in the trial at Weston Park on August 18.
Brown came on in the 60th minute last night with Newcastle down 2-1.
The Jets dominated possession before Kale Bradbery equalised in the 86th minute with a sweet strike.
Newcastle pushed hard for the winner in the final minutes, including having a shot blocked on the line and hitting the underside of the crossbar without success.
Former Aston Villa player Reece Caira scored in the 15th and 33rd minutes to put Western Sydney in control. Caira, though, was marched for a second yellow card offence in the 88th minute.
Stevan Ilic had hit back for Newcastle in the 43rd minute with a lunging header from a Andrew Hoole cross.
Newcastle fielded Young Socceroos Connor Chapman, Jack Duncan and Mitchell Oxborrow, who leave this weekend for the Asian Football Confederation Under-19 Championships in the UAE.