SUPER sub Gema Simon celebrated her 100th A-League appearance with a last-minute equaliser to snatch the Newcastle Jets a valuable 2-all draw with Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday and retain second place.
The visitors trailed 2-0 inside 27 minutes after goals to Sydney duo Kylie Ledbrook and Princess Ibini.
Captain Emily Van Egmond pulled a goal back for the Jets from the penalty spot in the 35th minute after Arin Gilliland was knocked over in the box.
Sydney had the better of the second half only for Simon to produce late heroics.
Playing her second game back from a knee injury, the Matilda slotted home from close range after fellow substitute Cortnee Vine knocked down a Hannah Brewer cross.
Simon, who was introduced in the 56th minute, was unlucky three minutes earlier when denied by a fantastic save by Aubrey Bledsoe. The American keeper followed up to parry Emily Van Egmond’s rebound.
Jets shotstopper Britt Ekerstrom also made a couple of big plays in a frenetic final 10 minutes.
The point moved the Jets to 17 points, one clear of the Sky Blues and four ahead of Perth and Canberra in fourth with five rounds remaining.
“We didn’t play as well as we can, but we hung in there and didn’t let the game get away from us, which it could have done,” coach Craig Deans said. “We showed desire to keep fighting and a draw wasn’t unfair. “
The Jets, chasing a fifth straight win, set the tone early. They pressed high up the pitch and forced errors from Sydney.
Clare Wheeler fired a shot over the bar and Katie Stengel blazed wide.
But it was the home side who took the lead in the 20th minute through Ledbrook.
The attacking midfielder was left unmarked at the top of the box and fired an angled left-foot shot past a diving Ekerstrom.
The class of Matilda Caitlin Foord came to the fore six minutes later when she beat two defenders in an angled run and then delivered a cross for Ibini to head home.
Sydney had their tails up, but the Jets hit back through a penalty after Gilliland was shouldered by Georgia Yoeman-Dale.
Emily Van Egmond stepped up and sent keeper Aubrey Bledsoe the wrong way.
The second half began in a similar vein to the first, with the Jets setting the tempo.
Tash Prior had a header cleared off the line on the hour as the visitors pushed and probed.
Sydney always looked dangerous one the break. But Leena Khamis went closest with a long-range effort which Ekerstrom tipped over the bar.