IT was far from convincing, but the Newcastle Jets are through to the FFA Cup round of 16 for the first time after they edged past minnows Gold Coast Knights at Cbus Stadium on Tuesday night.
They will meet Melbourne City in Melbourne in the next round. The Hunter’s other representative will be at home to Victorian powerhouse Bentleigh Greens.
A Nikolai Topor-Stanley toe-poke from a goalmouth scramble in the 11th minute proved the difference on the Gold Coast.
The home side played above their third-tier status and threatened numerous times on the break.
And if not for sharp work by Jets keeper Glen Moss, the visitors would have been looking at another early Cup exit, following a 1-0 defeat to Adelaide last year and losses to Melbourne Victory and Perth (twice).
Travel-weary after arriving in the Gold Coast on Monday from Spain where they had played three games in six days, the Jets lacked their normal penetration and speed in transition.
The Knights sat deep in a 4-1-4 formation and hit on the counter attack.
The Jets had 61 per cent of possession, but Moss was the busier of the keepers.
Dimi Petratos tested Knights shotstopper Josh Langdon a couple of times from distance, while his young brother Kosta and replacement Angus Thurgate struck the woodwork.
The Jets were without suspended striker Roy O’Donovan, captain Nigel Boogaard and Ronny Vargas.
Steve Ugarkovic got through a power of work, Lachlan Jackson was strong in the air and Dimi Petratos pushed and probed.
The home side nearly stunned the Jets in the fourth minute when Morgan Saunders burst into the box and forced a brilliant save from Moss.
The Kiwi also had to be alert to tip a thunderbolt from Justyn McKay over the bar in the 35th.
For the Jets, Kosta Petratos hit the crossbar with a stinging shot from the edge of the box in the 24th minute and Dimi had a dipping freekick tipped over the bar in the 43rd.
In other matches, Victorian Premier League club Bentleigh Greens upset Wellington Phoenix 1-0,Devonport accounted for Northcote City 3-1, Wanderers pipped Darwin Hellenic, Melbourne Victory accounted for Perth Glory 1-0 and Melbourne City beat Brisbane Roar 1-0 in extra-time.
FFA Cup round of 16: Melbourne City v Jets, Avondale v Devonport, Adelaide Comets v Heidelberg, Broadmeadow Magic v Bentleigh Greens, Apia Leichhardt v Melbourne Victory, Lions (Brisbane) v Adelaide United, Cairns v Sydney FC, Bonnyrigg v Western Sydney.
Meanwhile, Central Coast have confirmed that sprint king Usain Bolt will link with the club this month.