ROB Stanton's new era at the Newcastle Jets began with a gallant 2-all draw against Perth Glory after striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos scored with an injury-time header at HBF Park on Sunday night.
Stanton's first game as an A-League head coach appeared destined for a loss after Adam Taggart swooped on a poor pass from Jason Hoffman and laid off for substitute Stefan Calakovski to put the home side up 2-1 in the 64th minute.
Jets keeper Ryan Scott kept the visitors alive with three reflex saves before Stamatelopoloulos delivered a late dagger.
From a free kick in the 92nd minute, Kosta Grozos swung a ball towards the penalty spot.
Perth keeper Oli Sail rushed off his line but was left waving his arms as Stamatelopoulos climbed above the pack and directed a header into the net.
Grozos had earlier produced a stunning strike to level the scores in the 14th minute after Taggart had put the home side ahead in the second minute.
Both of the goals the Jets conceded were avoidable but they showed great spirit to fight until the end.
The point is a solid base for Stanton to build from.
"I think both teams deserved a point," Stanton said. "I don't think anyone did more than a point. I was a bit disappointed with our start. We were a bit sleepy.
"We went behind and got back in the game. We went behind again and got back in the game. It showed some really good character. In the past, that might have turned into a loss.
"I'm happy with the point."
Grozos, deployed at the base of midfield in the absence of suspended skipper Brandon O'Neill, was outstanding.
The left side of Lucas Mauragis and debutant Clayton Taylor caused most problems for the Glory defence, while Stamatelopoulos worked hard.
Stanton went with the same 11 which fought out a 2-all draw with Western Sydney in the final friendly.
It certainly wasn't the start, he was after.
Perth were ahead inside two minutes.
Luke Ivanovic drove towards the by-line and cut ball to the back post. Teenager Daniel Bennie climbed high to win a header and spark panic with the Jets defenders.
Scott parried the ball into a defender and it fell for Taggart to poke home.
However, Perth's lead was short lived, thanks to a stunning strike from Grozos.
The midfielder collected a clearance near halfway and drove forward. He took two touches and then unleashed a thunderbolt.
Sail got a touch but couldn't stop it from crashing into the net.
Most of the Jets attack was directed down the left through Lucas Mauragis and Clayton Taylor.
Trent Buhagiar had a shot sail wide on the half hour as the visitors started to get on top.
Taylor, who was impressive on debut, cut across the 18-yard box and struck a drive which angled wide.
Scott made a great reaction save to his left to deny Giordano Coli in the 52nd after the midfielder powered into the box.
The match started to open up midway through the second half.
The decisive moment came from a Jets mistake in the 64th minute.
Hoffman played a poor central pass towards the edge of the 18-yard box, which was intercepted by Taggart.
He laid off to substitute Stefan Colakovski who slotted home.
Scott kept the Jets in the contest with two saves after cheap turnovers.
Jets (4-4-2): Ryan Scott; Carl Jenkinson (Daniel Stynes 77), Jason Hoffman (c), Mark Natta, Lucas Mauragis; Kosta Grozos, Jason Berthomier (Callum Timmins 66), Dane Ingham, Clayton Taylor; Trent Buhagiar (Lachy Bayliss 66), Apostolos Stamatelopoulos