DIMI Petratos scored from a controversial penalty retake as the Newcastle Jets came from behind to open their A-League campaign with a 1-all draw against the Central Coast Mariners in a frenetic F3 Derby at Gosford on Saturday night.
Milan Duric produced a stunning volley to put the Mariners ahead after four minutes and for the opening half hour it appeared as though the home side would cause an upset.
But the Jets then clicked into gear.
Petratos put the visitors back on level terms with a second attempt from the penalty spot in the 56th minute after a Giancarlo Gallifuocu handball.
Birighitti dived to his right to palm Petratos' first attempt away. The save, though was reviewed by the VAR and Craig Zetter ruled that the keeper had moved off his line.
Petratos made no mistake with the second spot kick, burying it in the left corner.
"I remember asking the question about how pedantic they were going to be about that," frustrated Mariners coach Alen Stajcic said after the game. "They've made a call that he went off the line. Just as long as they do it every single time now, eh?
"If a keeper saves it, every single pen will be retaken I think because I can't remember one where they've kept their foot on the line and saved it, so it's just the way it is. That's the rule.
"Again, I didn't see how far. I only saw a quick replay, and apparently he was off the line a little bit before it was taken."
After the equaliser, it was virtually all the Jets. They sent wave after wave of attack at the home side.
However, it was the Mariners who nearly stole three points at the death.
Duric, who was outstanding, beat Glen Moss but not the left post with a low drive in the 90th minute.
The Jets had won the past three derbies in Gosford by a combined total of 15-4. But the Mariners under Stajcic are far more resilient and better organised.
Birighitti produced a spectacular finger tip save in the dying stages to deny Matt Millar and then dropped low to grab a shot from Abdiel Arroyo at the near post.
The Jets led all the key statistics. They had 56% of possession, won the shot count 14-7, the corner count 13-5 and delivered 49 balls into the box.
Arroyo, Nick Fitzgerald and former Mariner Matt Millar made their starting debut for the visitors.
However, Northern Ireland under-21 international Bobby Burns was left on the bench, with Ernie Merrick opting for the experience of Johnny Koutroumbis at left back.
Stajcic kept the faith in the XI which went down 2-1 to Western Sydney in their season-opener, meaning captain Matt Simon returned from suspension on the bench.
Six of the 11 starters for the Mariners were playing at home for the first time.
Jets fans filled six bays at Central Coast Stadium, but it was the Mariners faithful who had cause to celebrate first.
In the fourth minute, Duric sent a long, angled ball to Jordan Murray on the left touchline. He showed great composure to control the ball and then pick out Duric who made a late run into the box. The Serbian then produced a stunning volley to beat Glen Moss and arrow the ball into the left corner for his second goal in two games.
The opening 20 minutes was helter-skelter.
The Mariners had an appeal for a penalty turned down in the 18th minute after a Murray cross crashed into the elbow of Koutroumbis from point blank range. Referee Daniel Elder and the VAR ruled that the defender was not at fault.
The Mariners directed most of their attack down the right through Scotsman Ziggy Gordon.
It was clear that the Jets hadn't played a competition game in the opening half hour.
The Jets worked their way into the match midway through the half. Petratos was able to get on the ball and Millar and Koutroumbis made runs down the touchlines.
To their credit the Mariners defence held firm.
Time and time again the Jets whipped balls into the box. But the home side either managed to get a body in the way or the timing of the Jets players' run was slightly off.
Arroyo struggled to get into the game in the opening 45 minutes and dropped deeper and deeper looking for possession.
Merrick introduced Burns for Koutroumbis at half-time to stem the Mariners' attack down the right.
The Mariners also made a change, with Simon replacing Murray, who had a tight hamstring.
The Mariners went close to doubling their lead twice inside two minutes of the second half.
Moss tipped a Duric thunderbolt over the ball and Millar cleared a Danny de Silva effort off the line.kev
The Jets' desperation was rewarded at the other end when Gallifuocu lifted his arm to clear a Petratos' corner and the ball stuck his hand.
Jets (4-2-1-3): Glen Moss; Matt Millar, Nigel Boogaard, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Johnny Koutroumbis (Bobby Burns 46 min); Steve Ugarkovic, Matthew Ridenton; Dimi Petratos; Nick Fitzgerald, Abdiel Arroyo (Angus Thurgate 80 min), Jason Hoffman
Mariners (4-3-2-1): Mark Birighitti; Ziggy Gordon, Dylan Fox (Abraham Majok 68 min), Kye Rowles, Jack Clisby; Giancarlo Gallifuoco (Eunsun Kim 57 min), Gianni Stensness; Milan Duric, Tommy Oar, Danny De Silva; Jordan Murray (Matt Simon 46 min)