Bernie Ibini and Roy O’Donovan netted on either side of half time as Newcastle Jets came from behind to clinch a point in a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on Friday night.
The hosts looked in command of the contest with a one-goal advantage deep into the second half, until Wanderers substitute Patrick Ziegler conceded a penalty with a clumsy challenge on Luca Pršo and O’Donovan made the Wanderers pay with an 81st-minute equaliser.
An electrifying opening first half produced chances aplenty down either end. Valentino Yuel scraped the bar, Steven Ugarkovic and Ibini slid respective strikes just wide of the post and Keanu Baccus spooned an unmarked header from close range off the mark as the Wanderers began to edge the back-and-forth contest.
Carl Robinson’s side were dealt a major blow on the half hour mark when Nicolai Müller limped off through injury; the Wanderers boss turned to Simon Cox to come off his bench and the striker made an instant impact.
Collecting the ball with one of his first touches in the contest, Cox drove across the edge of the box and dispatched a shot off the left-hand upright. Ibini was quickest to react, getting to the rebound and lashing home the opener against his former side.
A Nigel Boogaard miss unmarked at the back post proved the last kick of the first half, and the Jets defender could only put his head in his hands after squandering a brilliant opportunity to draw level.
Rain fell heavily at Bankwest Stadium throughout the second half but as the showers drenched the contest the chances dried up.
Robinson removed Ibini from action before Newcastle’s own number nine was thwarted down the other end by a desperate, lunging block from Ziggy Gordon.
With 10 minutes to play O’Donovan was handed an even greater chance to score, this time from the spot after a clumsy challenge from Patrick Ziegler on Luca Pršo in the box, providing the visitors a penalty O’Donovan comfortably converted.
With a point in hand the Jets dug deep to the final whistle to ensure the second hotly-contested fixture between the two sides in the 2020/21 A-League campaign ended with honours shared.