NEWCASTLE Jets coach Craig Deans knew Jordan O'Doherty was a quality player.
Deans would not have agreed to a player swap with Western Sydney for the Jets' most influential player Steve Ugarkovic unless there was a major upside.
The question Deans had was how big an impact O'Doherty would have against Sydney FC after one 50-minute training session and for how long?
Although the Jets gave up an own-goal for a 1-all draw at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday, O'Doherty could not have done much more in a top-shelf debut.
"Everyone saw his energy and ability to take the game forward and ask questions of the Sydney midfield and back four," Deans said. "That is the reason we made the deal. I was more than confident that Jordy would bring that application and performance to the team. Whilst we wish Stevie the best and I'm sad to see him go in a lot of respects, the thing for us was to make some positive change in the club.
"I would hope and expect that was the minimum performance we will get from Jordy. That was his first 90 minutes in 12 months. The more he understands the way we play and the players around him, the better he should get."
O'Doherty lined up alongside Angus Thurgate in front of the back three, with Luka Prso and Jason Hoffman playing behind lone striker Roy O'Donovan.
"He had one 50-minute training session," Deans said. "We walked through a little bit of tactical stuff with him. Afterwards we sat down with the other three midfielders and went through the video reviews and previews we did this week. We got him to ask questions and got the other boys to talk him through certain scenarios. He is a good footballer, and if you are a good footballer you can play a game of football with anyone.
"My concern was how long he would last. He had a good chance [to score] at the end but he had run out of energy and power. I did ask him if he was right a few times, but there was no chance he was coming off."
Under pressure early, the Jets grew in confidence as the half progressed.
Roy O'Donovan put the Jets ahead from a controversial penalty for handball in the 59th minute.
The home side held strong and appeared set to record their first win in 12 games before disaster struck in the 76th minute.
Again it was their own doing. Connor O'Toole attempted to hoof a clearance from the goalmouth but the ball thudded into the chest of captain Nigel Boogaard and rebounded into the goal.
It was the third straight game the Jets have found the back of their own net.
"Defending is hard work," Deans said. "It is about making really clear decisions early and executing. It is not a nice way to concede a goal."
Apart from O'Doherty, Matt Millar had his best game for the campaign, highlighted by a series of bursts through midfield, and Nigel Boogaard was superb at the back in his first game in seven weeks.
"Nige is at a stage in his career where he knows the game very well," Deans said. "We have missed Nige. He is the most vocal and most likely to coach on the field. You need that.
"I thought everyone played well. Other than the mix-up for the own goal, everyone contributed pretty well."