NEWCASTLE Jets have crashed out of the FFA Cup at the first stage for a fourth straight year, going down 1-0 to Adelaide United at Marden Sports Complex on Wednesday night.
A Michael Marrone header in the 63rd minutes was enough for the home side to edge out the visitors and progress to the final 16 of the nation-wide knockout.
Jets replacement Kosta Petratos should have sent the game into extra-time but his shot from point-bank range in the 87th minute cannoned into the back of defender Jordan Elsey.
Then, with an open net, the teenage striker lifted the rebound over the bar.
Jets coach Ernie Merrick was “desperately dissapointed” to have “thrown the game away”.
“We did so many things well, and probably played our best football but we couldn’t score a goal,” Merrick said. “Kosta’s attempt at the end summed it up. We had the ball and played in their half for most of the game.”
Dimi Petratos (31st minute) and Andrew Nabbout (48th) were denied goals by the woodwork. Adelaide striker George Blackwood (35th) also hit the post.
In the end, it was a set-piece which brought the Jets undone.
Impressive Danish winger Johan Absalonsen drove an in-swinging corner from the right for Marrone, who peeled off the line and angled a header into the net.
The Jets, who were beaten by Perth (twice) and Melbourne in previous years, dominated for large periods, especially in the first half.
They pressed high up the pitch and put the Reds under pressure, forcing them to knock the ball long, which was easy pickings for twin towers Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Nigel Boogaard.
Once in front, the Reds dropped men behind the ball and blocked the passing channels.
The Jets pushed and probed but lacked the silk to break Adelaide down.
Petratos was dangerous and, apart from hitting the left post, stung the gloves of Paul Izzo with series of strikes from the edge of the box.
“Dimi was the most dangerous up front,” Merrick said. “Roy O’Donovan was tightly marked and struggled to get into the game. We need another striker. When I needed a goal-scorer, I only had young Kosta on the bench. Wayne Brown played No.10 but he is not really a goal-scorer. We need to sign a striker as soon as possible. There were a lot of positives to come out of the game, but it doesn’t take away the disappointment of losing.”