Newcastle Jets’ faint Hyundai A-League finals hopes have been all but extinguished after playing out a tense goalless draw against Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Friday night.
In a typically tight and intense F3 Derby, neither side was able to capitalise on the limited number of chances created.
Jets youngster Kosta Petratos was almost the match-winning hero for the second time in three days when he was presented with an opportunity 10 minutes from time but he was denied by a brilliant stop by Mark Birighitti.
While the result extends the Jets impressive run of results under new boss Carl Robinson, their hopes of breaking into the top six appear all but over.
The Hunter club are in seventh spot and two points behind sixth-place Adelaide United, but have played two games more.
The draw spares the Mariners from setting a new Hyundai A-League record of 12 straight losses, although the point will consign the club to a fourth wooden spoon in the last five seasons.
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Gordon sets the derby tempo
It was a typically tight and tense start to the F3 Derby with both sides spending the first 20 minutes feeling each other out.
While goalmouth action was fleeting, Mariners defender Ziggy Gordon showed the type of desperation that is required in these types of games with a tackle to stop Nick Fitzgerald getting a shot at goal.
Ibini tries his luck
It was the Jets applying most of the pressure, with most of their joy coming down the right through Bernie Ibini and Matt Millar.
And it was Ibini who went closest in the first half, when he picked up possession near halfway and drove through the heart of the Mariners defence.
Ibini fired off a powerful strike at the end of his run but Mark Birighitti did well to palm it away to safety.
Silky Silvera almost with the sucker punch
After absorbing most of the pressure, it was the home side that almost took a lead to the break courtesy of their young attacking star Sam Silvera.
The classy playmaker showed excellent speed, footwork and a brilliant stepover to work his way into the box before getting off a shot which forced Lewis Italiano into a vital save.
Duric blazes over the bar
The Mariners enjoyed a strong start to the second half and almost got the breakthrough from a corner.
First Kye Rowles’ glancing header forced Italiano into a save before the rebound fell nicely for Milan Duric.
The Serbian midfielder hit his first time strike well but it flew high over the bar.
Petratos fails to test Birighitti
After being introduced early in the second half, Dimitri Petratos did his best to ignite the Jets’ attack.
The Socceroos playmaker started a move in his own half, finding Connor O’Toole on the left in acres of space.
O’Toole advanced into the Mariners box before squaring back to Petratos but his strike couldn’t hit the target,
Birighitti comes up big for the Mariners
It took more than 80 minutes for the Jets to carve out the chance of the night but they couldn’t make it count.
After Nigel Boogaard found Jason Hoffman on the right, the latter’s cross was perfect for the on-rushing Kosta Petratos.
The youngster steered his effort on target from close range but Birighitti made an outstanding reflex save to keep the ball out.
- Central Coast Mariners v Western Sydney Wanderers
When: Monday, July 27
Where: Central Coast Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30pm (AEST)
- Newcastle Jets v Western United FC
When: Sunday, August 2
Where: McDonalds Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30pm (AEST)