STRIKER Apostolos Stamatelopoulos moved to the top of the A-League goal-scorers list but it wasn't enough as the Newcastle Jets gave up an injury-time equaliser to draw 3-all with a nine-man Western Sydney in a drama-charged A-League clash at CommBank Stadium on Sunday.
After leading 1-0 early, the Jets went to the break down 2-1 after a double to Wanderers winger Lachy Brook.
However, the match turned three minutes into the second half when Wanderers defender Tate Russell trod on the ankle of Jets replacement Daniel Wilmering inside the box.
Referee Shaun Evans initially waved play-on, but the VAR picked up the foul.
Not only did the Jets receive a penalty, Tate was issued a second yellow and was sent off, leaving the home side with 10 men.
Stamatelopoulos made no mistake from the spot. The in-form frontman then put the visitors ahead with a clinical header in the 70th minute.
The Jets appeared in total control.
But, as they have done numerous times, they failed to close out the game.
In the second of eight minutes of injury time, Wanderers captain Marcelo rose above the pack to head in a corner.
The drama wasn't over.
In the 96th minute, the home side was reduced to nine men after Jorrit Hendrix was given a red card after the intervention of the VAR for a studs-up tackle on Stamatelopoulos.
The chaotic contest capped a controversial week for Wanderers.
Coach Marko Rudan delivered a broadside at referee Adam Kersey and A-League management during the week.
He has until Wednesday to respond to a show cause notice and potentially faces a fine or suspension.
Television cameras showed Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer launching a tirade at the match officials after full-time on Sunday.
It was Stamatelopoulos' fourth brace of the season and took his goal tally to 13 and moved him alongside Bruno Fornaroli in the race for the Golden Boot.
However, he was left dejected after the Jets gave up two competition points.
"It is the story of our season," Stamatelopoulos said. "We will get better. That is the main thing. We need to know how to win games, especially against 10 men. We needed one more [goal] especially the way we have drawn and lost games this season. I was communicating that with the boys. We were all on the same page. We just let it slip at the end."
The Wanderers were furious at the decision to give Tate a second yellow card.
Referees boss Nathan Magilll was quick to clarify the decision.
"Following an on-field review, it was determined that there was a foul on the Newcastle Jets' player from the Western Sydney Wanderers' defender who committed a reckless challenge by stepping on the Jets' attacker's ankle," Magill said.
"Because he stepped on the ankle/achilles of the player which is adjudged to be a yellow card.
"The referee after watching the incident, the referee decided the offence was a penalty kick and the offence was worthy of a yellow card."
Tate's first caution was for a rough house challenge on Clayton Taylor, which forced the Jets winger to be replaced at half-time.
Wanderers gave a debut to 18-year-old keeper Tiger Harper after Lawrence Thomas (ankle) and Daniel Margush (concussion) were ruled out with injury.
Harper rushed out of his box in the fifth minute and got enough of a touch to clear a dangerous cross.
However, his debut soon turned sour. He miscued a pass to skipper Marcelo which went to Buhagiar.
The in-form striker made him pay, drilling a shot in at the near post.
The young keeper made amends five minutes later, dropping low to his right to parry away a stinging effort from Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.
The home side had 65 per cent of possession in the opening half hour and converted that pressure into a goal.
Lachy Brook arrived late into the box to collect an Alex Badolato pass and hit a first-time, left-foot shot into the right corner.
Two minutes later, Brook had a double and the home side were in front.
Ryan Scott dived low to parry away an Badolato shot. Wanderers winger Nic Milanovic reacted quickest and chipped a beautiful cross to the far post for Brook to head.
After absorbing a ton of pressure, the Jets nearly equalised just before the break.
Kosta Grozos cut inside a defender and unleashed a shot from outside the box which dipped late and thudded into the crossbar.
The Wanderers edged the Jets in most of the key statistics at the break.
Stanton introduced Wilmering for Taylor (cork) for the start of the second half.
The Jets were handed a lifeline inside a minute of the second half when Russell trod on the ankle of Wilmering.
Stamatelopoulos, after having two penalties saved last game, made no mistake from the spot.
The possession stakes flipped, with the Jets having the majority.
Wanderers responded by setting up two blocks in front of the ball and challenging the visitors to break them down.
Rudan was infuriated after Jets defender Nathan Grimaldi was only given a yellow card for a sliding tackle on Brook in the 68th minute.
Three minutes later, the Jets were in front. Mauragis turned on the right foot and sent a cross for Stamatelopoulos who powered in front of Jack Clisby and turned a header into the net.