NEWCASTLE broke their goalscoring record for an A-League season – and retained a four-point hold on second position – in a 2-all draw against Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Thursday night.
Newcastle’s second goal of the match, scored by Jason Hoffman, was their 39th, surpassing their season-best tally of 2011-12 with nine preliminary rounds to play.
The result kept the second-placed Jets four points clear of City, their nearest rivals.
Newcastle, minus Dimi Petratos, led twice but allowed the home team to equalise both times.
The Jets had a dream start when Argentine winger Pato Rodriguez toyed with the defence and then chipped ahead for defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who headed home a rare goal to make it 1-0 in the third minute.
Rodriguez taunted City with his skill in the opening exchanges, coming within inches of scoring after a slalom run and fierce strike in the 25th minute.
City fans thought their team had equalised in the 31st minute when a Harrison Delbridge header beat Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan, only for the Video Assistant Referee to overrule because of a foul in the lead-up.
Newcastle’s hopes of taking the lead into half-time were foiled in the 42nd minute when defender Daniel Georgievski was penalised for a dubious challenge on Stefan Mauk. Daniel Arzani placed the spot-kick past the left hand of Jets keeper Jack Duncan to equalise.
The visitors hit the lead in the 70th minute when new signing Riley McGree, only 10 minutes after entering the match as substitute, weaved his way past defenders and teed up Andrew Nabbout.
Nabbout’s strike was saved but bounced at the feet of Hoffman, who scored his fourth goal of the season.
Newcastle appeared on track for a priceless win until Dario Vidosic scored with a header, his seventh goal of the season. But the Jets were lucky to escape with a point after Ross McCormack chipped Duncan and Steve Ugarkovic produced a miraculous goal-line save.
The Jets lost playmaker Petratos before kick-off when he flew back to Newcastle to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.
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