The Newcastle Jets have virtually secured a Hyundai A-League semi-final berth with a tough 2-1 win over a 10-man Adelaide United outfit at Energy Australia Stadium on Friday night.
First-half goals to Jets striker Joel Griffiths and Adelaide’s Lucas Pantelis saw the scores locked at 1-1 before Reds midfielder Fabian Barbiero was sent from the field for his second bookable offence just before half-time.
The undermanned Reds; who went into the match in fifth place and needing a win to jump over the Jets in fourth place; fought on gamely in the second half but a 72nd-minute header to teenager James Holland secured the crucial win for the home side.
The hard-fought victory keeps Newcastle in fourth place on the ladder on 28 points; five ahead of Adelaide; with two rounds left to play before the finals.
Sydney FC has continued its charge towards the Hyundai A-League premiership with a solid 2-0 win over Wellington at Westpac Stadium on Friday night.
Two late goals in a hectic five-minute spell were enough to secure the vital three points.
Newcastle Jets 2 (Joel Griffiths 12; Holland 72)
Adelaide United 1 (Pantelis 40)
Crowd: 13;047 at EnergyAustralia Stadium; Newcastle.
Sydney joins Queensland and Central Coast on 30 points at the head of the table; however the Roar and Mariners will look to re-establish the buffer zone in clashes this weekend.
Terry McFlynn opened the scoring in the 79th minute with a cheeky backheel in his 50th appearance before Alex Brosque doubled the lead just four minutes later.
Both teams battled hard during the first half; not wanting to hand the opposition the ball and control of the game.
The Phoenix; driven on by their passionate home crowd of 14;288; were unable to unlock a stubborn and resolute Sydney defensive line; while the visitors looked the better of the two sides in the final third; but were also unable to penetrate the home side’s back three.