Nine-man Wanderers snatch a point in chaotic 3-3 draw with Newcastle

A dramatic late header from Marcelo has secured a point for Western Sydney Wanderers as they drew 3-3 with nine players against Newcastle Jets at CommBank Stadium.

An error from debutant Taiga Harper in the Wanderers goal saw the Jets take the lead through Trent Buhagiar before a double from Lachlan Brook had the home side in front at the break.

Western Sydney were then reduced to 10-men after Tate Russell fouled Daniel Wilmering inside the box with Apostolos Stamatelopoulos slamming home the resulting spotkick.

Stamatelopoulos then headed the Jets in front but with the clock ticking down Wanderers captain Marcelo headed home a brilliant equaliser to secure a point for the home side, who also had midfielder Jorrit Hendrix sent off in stoppage time.

The result leaves the Wanderers in fifth spot, eight points behind league leaders Wellington while Newcastle remain 10th on the ladder, five points outside the finals positions.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 11: Mark Natta of the Jets and Nicolas Milanovic of the Wanderers contest the ball during the A-League Men round 16 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets at CommBank Stadium, on February 11, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Jets took the lead in just the fourth minute and it was Trent Buhagiar who capitalised on an early error from Wanderers debutant Taiga Harper.

Aiming to pick out captain Marcelo, Harper instead hit a wayward pass into the path of Buhagiar, who’s first time shot beat the young keeper at his near post as he scrambled back to his line.

The youngster then redeemed himself in the 12th minute though, pulling off a sharp save to deny Jets striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos from inside the area.

The home side had their first real chance of the game in the 24th minute as forward Lachlan Brook picked out captain Marcelo inside the box, however the Brazilian sent his powerful header wide of the post.

Wanderers fans would soon have something to cheer for though as Brook bagged the equaliser in the 28th minute, dispatching a superb effort into the top corner after he was picked out on the edge of the box by Alex Badolato.

Three minutes later the Wanderers were in front and it was Brook with his second goal of the game. A low shot from Badolato was beaten away by Ryan Scott at his near post but Nicholas Milanovic reacted fastest, pouncing on the loose ball before clipping a delicate cross back into the box which was promptly headed home by Brook.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 11: Lachlan Brook of the Wanderers celebrates scoring a goal during the A-League Men round 16 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets at CommBank Stadium, on February 11, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Jets came close to grabbing an equaliser before half time as Kosta Grozos rattled the bar in the 44th minute before Stamatelopoulos then blazed a shot over Harper’s bar in first half stoppage time.

However the game was flipped on its head within a minute of play resuming in the second half. The Jets brought on former Wanderers defender Daniel Wilmering at the break and, after a VAR check, he was awarded a penalty following an accidental trip by Tate Russell inside the box.

To make matters worse, Russell was shown a second yellow card for the coming together leaving the Wanderers down to ten men before Stamatelopoulos converted the resulting spotkick to make it 2-2.

Things then got even worse for the home side as Stamatelopoulos took his tally to 13 goals for the season, jumping above Jack Clisby to head home Lucas Mauragis’ cross to make it 3-2 to Newcastle.

Socceroos forward Brandon Borrello was brought on to try and salvage something for the home side and came close to bagging the equaliser in stoppage time but was denied by Jets keeper Ryan Scott.

However from the resulting corner, new signing Sonny Kittel floated a perfect delivery into the box which was met by a towering header from captain Marcelo and it flew into the back of the net, sending the RBB wild behind the goal.

The Wanderers finished the game with nine men after a VAR review saw Dutchman Jorrit Hendrix given a straight red for a studs-up challenge on Apostolos Stamatelopoulos but they held on for a valuable point at CommBank Stadium.