ROY O'Donovan scored his first goal back in red and blue but it wasn't enough to earn coach Carl Robinson a first win as the Newcastle Jets were held to a 1-all draw by Melbourne Victory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.
It was an all-too familiar story for the Jets. They dominated everywhere bar the scoreboard and again paid the price for a defensive lapse.
O'Donovan, playing his third game since returning to Newcastle from Brisbane, put the home side ahead in the 24th minute after the intervention of the VAR.
The Irishman's shot from close range crashed into the underside of the bar and bounced back into play. The referee waved play on but the VAR ruled the ball had landed over the goal line.
The Jets were in total control but switched off for a moment two minutes after the break and Ola Toivonen swooped, slipping between two defenders and heading home.
Earlier, Abdiel Arroyo had two goals pulled back, Dimi Petratos was denied by the woodwork and Matt Millar had a strong claim for a penalty turned down.
The Jets finished the stronger but in the end needed a desperate save by Lewis Italiano on Marcos Rojas to take a point.
"The boys were terrific. Their attitude, their application, the energy they showed, especially in the first half," Robinson said. It was a very dominant first half performance but we obviously only got the one goal. When you are playing against a very good team, and Melbourne are a very good team, it always leaves them in the game. We spoke about it at half-time and then the initial five minutes after half-time they get a chance. Sometimes you have to put you hand up. It was a great delivery into the box and a good goal by Toivonen. But from a defensive point of view, we should stop that. There was not enough pressure on the ball, we left a man who is very good in the box free and he scores. When you do that, it deflates you a little bit. We lost our way for 10 minutes then we regained it. It is little moments in games where we didn't have enough quality."
The point stretched the Jets' unbeaten run to four games and moved them to 15 points, 11 points behind sixth-placed Brisbane.
Robinson retained the same XI that returned from Parramatta with a point from a 1-all draw with Wanderers in the Welshman's first game in charge.
There were six players - Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Petratos, Millar, Bobby Burns, Steven Ugarkovic and Angus Thurgate - from the Jets outfit humbled 4-0 by the Victory in Melbourne on January 5. That defeat was Ernie Merrick's last at the helm.
Victory caretaker coach Carlos Salvachua brought in imports Tim Hoogland, Jakob Poulsen and Marcos Rojas after returning from a midweek trip to Korea where they lost 1-0 to FC Seoul.
The Jets thought they had the lead in the eighth minute when Arroyo turned and beat Lawrence Thomas but the pass to the Panamanian had deflected off referee Alireza Faghani and he pulled the goal back for a drop ball.
The home side's frustration intensified on the quarter hour when Arroyo flicked on a Dimi Petratos cross only to be flagged for off side.
The Jets continued to set the tone and were unlucky again in the 22nd minute when Petratos bent a corner which beat Thomas but not the crossbar.
They wouldn't be denied a fourth time.
Petratos burst down the right and whipped in a low cross for O'Donovan,who muscled in front of his defender and stabbed a shot. The ball smashed into the underside of the bar and bounced out into play. But replays showed the ball had cross the goal line.
Victory struggled to get their foot on the ball in the first half and only had 29% of possession at half-time.
Arroyo was again in the thick of the action early in the second half, producing a spectacular bicycle kick which deflected wide.
Incredibly, Victory were back on level terms a minute later.
Hoogland swung in a cross for Toivonen who ghosted between two defenders and nodded home at the back post for his 10th goal for the campaign.
All of a sudden the Jets were on the back foot.
Enter Wes Hoolahan. The Irishman was introduced for Thurgate in 62nd minute and he nearly produced a goal inside a minute.
Hoolahan drove into the box and threaded a pass for Millar. He was sent sprawling by Hoogland but the referee ruled a handball by the Jets wingback.
It was Hoolahan's first appearance in the A-League after a four month lay-off with ankle syndesmosis he suffered in the quarter-final of the FFA Cup.