A wonder goal from teenage sensation Archie Goodwin has helped Newcastle avoid the wooden spoon with a 2-1 win over premiers Melbourne City on Thursday night in the final game of the A-League regular season.
Goodwin's long-range stunner in the 23rd minute cancelled out Stefan Colakovski's ninth-minute opener before substitute Apostolos Stamatelopoulos gave the Jets victory with a header in the 89th.
The three points from the rescheduled match lifted the Jets off the bottom and onto 21 points, two points ahead of Melbourne Victory.
City rested Craig Noone but welcomed back Andrew Nabbout, fresh from re-signing for three years, and they looked sharp from the outset.
Jason Hoffman blocked an on-target City shot in just the second minute but the premiers kept coming. They went ahead in the ninth minute when Adrian Luna raced clear down the right before his ball across the face of goal found Colakovski at the far post for the tap in.
City continued to dominate and Nabbout forced Jets keeper Jack Duncan to knock his strike over the crossbar in the 14th minute.
Hoffman was an early casualty, limping off with a lower leg injury in the 21st minute and giving Blake Archbold his earliest appearance in an A-League game.
Under pressure, the Jets equalised in spectacular style with Goodwin's screamer.
The schoolboy passed from midfield to find Lucas Mauragis, who ran then backheeled the ball to Goodwin. He took a touch towards goal, looked up and curled a 25-yard strike inside the right post to send the Jets bench into raptures.
The 16-year-old became the second youngest scorer in A-League history and the youngest ever for the Jets, surpassing James Holland (18 years).
Goodwin, having just his third start, was backing up from a frustrating night in front of goals in the 1-1 draw with Perth on Saturday night. He had a goal assist on his starting debut against Central Coast the Tuesday before in a 2-0 win.
Nikolai Topor-Stanley had a chance to put Newcastle ahead in the 38th minute but he was wide with a volley off a Mauragis free kick.
Florin Berenguer was just over the crossbar for City in the 55th minute with his attempted lob of Duncan. Both sides threatened and City went close when Ben Garuccio was just wide with a pinballing exchange close to goal in the 80th minute.
Mauragis then produced a pinpoint accurate free kick to find Stamatelopoulos, whose glancing header found the bottom corner of goal.
Goodwin said it was a "crazy feeling" to get his first goal.
"It's been a tough season, so it's good to get the three points and a great performance from the boys, especially not getting the wooden spoon, that was our main goal for the last three games so happy we got the win," Goodwin told Fox Sports.
"Before the game, Lucas and I in the sheds, we always say, 'we've got to do something in the game' and he got the ball, so I was calling for it behind him, and as soon as I got the ball I saw the top corner so I just thought I'd have a hit and happy it went in. Crazy moment, crazy feeling."
The performances of Goodwin and Mauragis in the final three games of the season have been a highlight in an otherwise disappointing season for the Jets.
Craig Deans, who announced a week ago he was stepping aside as Jets head coach with a year to run on his contract, was proud of the performance.
"We've had a tough year with lots of things going on, but I think looking at the results and the way we've been in every game for most of the year, I don't think we deserved to finish last," Deans said.
"I think tonight, obviously another strong performance, a good mentality, a good attitude and we got goals, which is something that has been hurting us for most of the year, but we managed to get some goals and tighten up the defensive side of the game as well.
"The main objective was not to finish last but also the same as every week going into the game, trying to win it."
Deans said the season was obviously a failure but he praised the commitment of the players in tough circumstances.
"All we've achieved is to get the club through a difficult period and keep our pride intact. I think we've done that very well," he said.
"The players especially have shown a lot of heart and commitment, and pride in themselves and the shirt they play for every week. I think the players have been amazing. Their commitment to the club this year has been pretty special, when you are working on the inside.
"The season itself has been a failure, but it's a season where hopefully we've got ourselves back on track."
The match could be the last for several players with the club. Deans said that was spoken about briefly before the game.
"It's just to make sure you respect the teammates you play for and if it is to be the last game for a few people, that we all show them the respect and the pride that we have in them as people and footballers, and we send them out in a positive way," he said.
"If it is to be the last game for the club for some people then we wanted it to be a good memory, a special memory and obviously the result is going to help that.
"But I think the performance, the heart the team showed the whole way through to come back from a goal down, I think that showed how much everybody cares about each other as well."
Newcastle entered the match needing only a draw to go ahead of Victory but they vowed to go for the win.
The victory means they will now face Western United for a spot in the FFA Cup round of 32.
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