LUKA Prso arrived in Newcastle hoping to grow his reputation.
The Young Socceroo wasted little time, winning a late penalty to help earn the Newcastle Jets a 1-all draw against Western Sydney at a rain-soaked Bankwest Stadium on Friday.
For much of the second half it looked like Bernie Ibini had come back to haunt the Jets.
Ibini had six months left on his contract in Newcastle, but paid his way out, such was the 28-year-old's desperation to follow coach Carl Robinson to Western Sydney.
After an underwhelming performance in a 2-1 win over the Jets in Newcastle three weeks ago, the striker was on the spot in the 36th minute to slot home after a shot by replacement Simon Cox bounced back off the post.
Enter Prso. On-loan from Croatian club NK Osijek, Prso replaced an injured Ramy Najjarine and made an instant impact on debut.
The 20-year-old turned in the box and was caught on the boot by Patrick Ziegler, and referee Ben Abraham pointed to the spot.
Roy O'Donovan dispatched the spot kick into the roof of the net for his second goal in two games.
The final 10 minutes were all the Jets' as the Wanderers hung on for dear life.
The draw was no less than the visitors deserved.
Valentino Yuel and O'Donovan were a constant threat, Steve Ugarkovic was immense in midfield and Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Nigel Boogaard were rocks at the back.
Interim Coach Craig Deans, who was potentially in charge for his final game, expressed his pride in the comeback.
"After four games people probably thought this bloke is talking this team up and they are not as good as he says they are and they don't have the character that he says they do and they don't have the personality," Deans said. "I think, from the last two games, people can see that it is the truth.
"It is who we are and it is who they are as players. I said last week that I am very proud to coach them and it is exactly the same tonight. I thought they deserved everything they got.
"Lots of the players have been at the club a long time or are born and bred in Newcastle. People underestimate that as a trait. What we need to add to that is football ability and working with our younger players and making them better.
"Definitely the older players deserve a lot of credit for the way we are, and the younger ones are following their lead. It's a good mix."
Deans said Prso lived up to expectations.
"It was a bit of a risk to put him on,' Deans said. "He had five training sessions after spending two weeks in isolation. But I thought the game was there to be won, and a player like him could make a difference and he showed that. He still has a lot to learn, but he has talent, he has confidence and he has some energy. That was something we needed at the time." .
In-form rookie Yuel was aiming to become the third Jets player to score in four consecutive games.
The livewire striker went close with a snap shot from close range in the 10th minute which beat keeper Daniel Margush but not the crossbar.
Wanderers suffered a blow in the 34th minute when Nicolai Muller limped off and was replaced by Cox.
Within two minutes the Irishman helped put Wanderers ahead.
Wanderers sat deeper in the second half and were content to let the Jets dominate possession.
It became almost a game of chess. The Jets squeezed in defence. With the ball, they pushed and probed and eventually the goal came.
Western Sydney coach Carl Robinson labelled the Prso penalty "dubious" and said he was frustrated by a lack of consistency after Wanderers striker James Troisi had a call for a spot kick turned down in the first half.
However Robinson, who coached the Jets for 10 games last season, conceded his former club were worthy of the point.
"They are a good group of boys," Robinson said. "I said that in the short time I worked up there. They are enjoyable to work with and are good characters. All they want is a little bit of guidance. It didn't surprise me today. It was a tough game and they are a good team. They have good leaders in their team and good players. And so have we. Which is why I think we saw a very entertaining first half which was very open. Second half, I think they were the better team and they got their goal through a penalty."
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