Newcastle Jets and Adelaide United have played out a dour 0-0 draw at a hazy Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
Just like they did when the two sides met a month ago, neither was able to find a breakthrough with Jets gloveman Mark Birighitti again outstanding for the home side, making a couple of crucial saves.
Both sides had their chances and hit the woodwork, with Marcelo Carrusca denied once in each half from free-kicks, while Mateo Poljak was unlucky with a powerful header which rebounded back off the post.
The result means the Jets remain in seventh spot, while Adelaide are ninth but have extended their unbeaten run to three matches.
With just over 10 minutes left Adelaide were awarded a free-kick right in front of goal just on the edge of the box after Bruce Djite was dragged down by Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard.
Almost every Newcastle player was in a wall in front of ‘keeper Birighitti but Carrusca still managed to find a gap with his curling effort.
The Jets custodian was rooted to the spot but relieved to see the ball hit the post and come out before it was cleared away to safety.
It was as close as either side would come in the closing stages as they had to settle for a point apiece.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Newcastle has now gone seven games without a win, to slip from first at the end of October to seventh heading towards Christmas.
It’s the third game in a row the Jets have been held scoreless, the first time in more than two years they have failed to find the net in three consecutive games.
Adelaide has now gone four straight games against the Jets without conceding a goal.
So many exceptional touches and moments of class from Reds playmaker Marcelo Carrusca. Getting back to some of his best form and undoubtedly one of the best no.10’s in the competition.
But Jets youngster Ryan Kitto also caught the eye, with his confidence and energy in an enterprising display. Let go by Adelaide at the end of last season, Kitto was a menace for the home side deputising for the injured Leonardo.
The Jets aren’t blessed with the deepest squad in the Hyundai A-League so can ill-afford to be without any of their experienced stars. But a needless yellow card picked up by Jason Hoffman inside the first four minutes was the right-back’s fifth of the campaign, ruling him out of Newcastle’s Christmas Eve clash against league-leaders Western Sydney Wanderers and further weakening Scott Miller’s depleted defence.
THE FINAL WORD
After their capitulation against Melbourne City last week, the Jets returned to their resolute defensive best against the Reds. But they still have huge issues going forward, with just nine goals from their 11 matches this season. The January transfer window can’t come soon enough for Miller to try and bring in some attacking reinforcements. They end 2015 with a Christmas Eve clash at the Wanderers.
Adelaide will view this as an opportunity missed having dominated the majority of the contest and carving out the best chances. A positive for the Reds though is they appear to be building towards their best form, ready for an assault on the top six in the New Year. The Reds return home next weekend for a Boxing Day clash against Wellington Phoenix.
Newcastle Jets: Birighitti (gk), Hoffman, Boogaard (c), Jackson, Cowburn, Poljak, Kantarovski, Kitto (Watson 79’), Carney, Trifunovic, Alivodic (Crowley 67’)
Adelaide United: Galekovic (gk) (c), Marrone, McGowan, Elsey, Elrich, Isaias, Jeggo, Carrusca, Goodwin (Trimboli 88’), Sanchez (Djite 71’), Cirio
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Hoffman 4’, Kantarovski 18’, Djite 87’, Poljak 88’
Conditions: 27C, Fine
Attendance: 7332 @ Hunter Stadium