A brace from Emile Heskey secured the Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets a 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
Heskey’s two second half goals ensured the Jets picked up their third consecutive victory and moved to the top of the A-League table.
The Victory had a golden opportunity to snatch an early lead when Marco Rojas was played in behind the defence inside the first two minutes.
However, the New-Zealand international was thwarted by the fingertips of Mark Birighitti who pushed the ball around the post while at full-stretch.
Neither side were able to create any more clear-cut chances during the following 20 minutes as both teams continued to feel their way into to the contest.
That was until the 25th minute when a rough challenge by Adrian Leijer brought down Ben Kantarovski off the ball. Leijer picked up a yellow card and the Jets were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box.
Ruben Zadkovich stepped up to take it, but he pushed his effort agonisingly wide with Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe rooted to the spot as the ball flashed past his post.
The near-miss sparked the Jets into action and a short time later Griffiths cut-in from the right flank and drove a shot from the corner of the penalty box that stung the palms of Coe.
The Victory responded instantaneously with Adam Traore going on a mazy run from midfield that ended with his left-footed shot flashing across the face of goal.
Traore’s effort was the start of a late first-half onslaught from Melbourne.
Birighitti made a crucial save with his foot to deny Archie Thompson after the Victory counter-attacked swiftly following a turnover by Tiago Calvano.
The Jets were lucky to escape again in the 37th minute when Thompson's cross from the right picked out the run of Rojas only for the Kiwi to send his side-footed volley wide of the mark.
Birighitti was again called into action two minutes later, this time making a diving one-handed save to tip Traore's long range effort over.
Despite the Victory’s chances, it was the Jets who almost took the lead on the stroke of halftime.
Craig Goodwin carried the ball inside from the left wing before laying it off to Emile Heskey who hit his shot is over the crossbar from the top of the box.
The second half started in much the same fashion as the first, with neither side creating many opportunities.
That was until Josh Brillante, making his first starting appearance for the Jets, picked out Heskey’s well-timed run with a sublime early cross. Heskey connected sweetly with his right boot to send the ball into the back of the net to give the Jets a 1-0 lead in the 54th minute.
The Victory’s response was almost immediate with Birighitti saving Rojas’ attempted chip in a one-on-one situation.
However, the Jets doubled their lead just minutes later with Heskey scoring his fourth goal in three games.
Jobe Wheelhouse’s corner to the back post was headed back into the six-yard by Dominik Ritter and Heskey was on hand to re-direct the ball into the goal with a well-executed overhead kick.
Melbourne managed to find a way back into the contest with a big slice of luck in the 71st minute.
Tiago’s attempted clearance skewed off his right boot back into the Jets’ penalty box and fell perfectly for Thompson who beat Birighitti with a well-placed, first-time header.
The Victory pushed hard for an equaliser but Newcastle were able to hang on and secure the win, giving them their best start to an A-League season ever.
Newcastle Jets 2 (Heskey, 54’, 57’)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Thompson 71’)
Newcastle Jets: 3. Tiago CALVANO, 4. Josh MITCHELL, 5. Dominik RITTER, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9. Emile HESKEY (19. Michael BRIDGES 85’), 12. Josh BRILLANTE, 15. Craig GOODWIN (17. James VIRGILI 79’), 16. Jobe WHEELHOUSE (c), 20. Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 23. Ryan GRIFFITHS (22. Adam TAGGART 90’).
Yellow cards: Tiago (69’)
Subs not used: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk).
Melbourne Victory: 2. Matthew FOSCHINI, 3. Adama TRAORE, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 5. Mark MILLIGAN, 8. Jonathan BRU, 9. Marcos FLORES, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 11. Marco ROJAS (16. Theo MARKELIS 73’), 14. Billy CELESKI, 23. Adrian LEIJER (c), 39. Nathan COE (gk).
Yellow cards: Leijer (25’), Foschini (61’),
Subs not used: 1. Tando VELAPHI (gk), 6. Leigh BROXHAM, , 17. Jimmy JEGGO.