EMILE Heskey keeps making it look easy.
Newcastle’s marquee man made it five goals from six games - and lifted Newcastle to joint leaders with Adelaide on the A-League points table - after scoring the game-breaker in last night’s 2-1 victory against West Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium.
But there was a dramatic late setback for Newcastle when substitute Jacob Pepper incurred two yellow cards in his six minutes on the field and was sent off in the 89th minute.
Pepper, an 83rd-minute replacement for James Brown, was booked in the 84th minute for time wasting and five minutes later was marched for a clumsy challenge.
He will now serve a mandatory suspension.
Heskey went into the inaugural showdown between the two clubs with four goals to his name, the same number as Central Coast’s Daniel McBreen and Melbourne Victory’s Marco Rojas.
The former Leceister, Liverpool, Wigan, Aston Villa and England striker is now in the outright lead for the Golden Boot trophy.
The Jets climbed to 12 points after their fourth win of the season, earning a share of top rung on the ladder, although Adelaide (12), Central Coast (12) and Perth (9) are still to play this weekend.
Newcastle led 2-1 at half-time after a brave fightback against the A-League’s most miserly defensive team.
The Wanderers drew first blood in the 15th minute when Youssouf Hersi and marquee playmaker Shinji Ono combined to set up striker Joseph Gibbs, who produced a clinical finish.
But the home side did not hold the upper hand for long.
Twelve minutes later, the Jets hit back when defender Scott Neville fired in a cross and Ryan Griffiths deflected a header in off the post, leaving Wanderers keeper Ante Covic with no chance.
It was Griffiths’s third goal of the season.
Heskey showed his predatory instincts in the 36th minute when he pounced on a pinpoint cross from Craig Goodwin and converted from close range to put Newcastle in the lead.
Newcastle emerged in the second half determined to control proceedings, and feisty Ruben Zadkovich served notice of their intentions three minutes after the resumption when he collected another yellow card.
There were some nervous moments for Newcastle as the clock ticked down but each time their defence scrambled effectively.
Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti also produced some heroics in front of his sticks.
Western Sydney’s line-up included four ex-Jets: Covic, Adam D’Apuzzo, Mark Bridge and Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who was acting skipper.
Their other two former Novocastrians, Tarek Elrich and Labinot Haliti, were not selected.