The Hunter Port Newcastle Jets played out a 0-0 draw with Wellington Phoenix in their Round 3 Hyundai A-League clash at McLean Park in Napier on Sunday.
The Jets started the match in a positive fashion, finding an attacking outlet on the right flank in Andrew Hoole, who was making his first appearance of the season.
It took Hoole just four minutes to threaten, with the Young Socceroo bringing down Ruben Zadkovich’s pass, before cutting inside and firing a left-footed shot from the top of the box that forced Phoenix shot–stopper Glenn Moss to make a sharp save.
Wellington’s reply was almost immediate, with Carlos Hernandez grazing the cross bar with a trademark long-range drive after he was given time and space on the edge of the area.
The Jets responded well to the scare, with Scott Neville and Hoole continuing to link-up well down the right flank.
The Jets’ next goal-scoring opportunity came in the 19th minute when Hoole was brought down on the edge of the box.
Zadkovich stepped-up to take the free-kick, bending it over the wall and past Moss, only to see the ball canon into the crossbar.
Scott Neville was the first to react to the loose ball, however his follow-up effort was desperately cleared off the line by Leo Bertos.
The Jets continued to apply plenty of pressure to the Phoenix’s defence and had another fantastic opportunity to take the lead in the 26th minute.
Nathan Burns brought down Neville’s cross, before laying the ball off to Josh Brillante, however Brillante was unable to keep his shot from just inside the penalty area down and the ball sailed over the cross bar for a goal kick.
Burns was the next Jets player to try his luck, picking the ball up on the left wing, before working his way into the box and firing a shot that forced Moss to make a low save at his near post.
Despite the Jets having the majority of clear-cut chances during the first-half, the Phoenix nearly took the lead in the 42nd minute, with stunning reflex save from Birighitti the only thing stopping Stein Huysegems’ header hitting the back of the net.
Huysegems went close to scoring again just three minutes later with Hernandez’s free-kick finding the Belgian in space, however Huysegems’ header drifted just wide of the post and out for a goal-kick.
The Jets started the second half in the same fashion as the first, with Burns probing down the left flank.
The former Adelaide United winger showed quick feet to cut inside in the 50th minute before firing a low shot that forced Moss to make another save.
Not to be outdone by his Wellington counterpart, Birighitti pulled off another crucial reflex save in the 62nd minute to deny the Phoenix at a set piece, before Hernandez hit the woodwork less than a minute later during a fruitful period for the home side.
Just as they did in the first half, the Jets reacted well to Wellington’s sustained pressure, with Burns proving to be a useful attacking outlet for the visitors.
In the 76th minute, Burns once again skipped past his man with ease and looked to square the ball to an unmarked teammate at the top of the box, only to be thwarted by a last ditch tackle from Ben Sigmund.
The ensuing corner was one of a number of set-pieces earned by the Jets during the closing stages of the match and they pushed hard in search of the winning goal.
It almost came in the 82nd minute, when second-half substitute James Brown rose to meet Neville's cross from the right with a strong header, only to see it nestle comfortably in the arms of Moss.
The Jets had one final opportunity to come away from the match with all three points, with a well-worked corner in the 90th minute allowing Connor Chapman to get free at the back post.
However, Chapman could only blast his volley over the cross bar as the Phoenix scrambled to close him down.
With neither team able to break the deadlock after 90 minutes were completed, the points were shared in the first ever Hyundai A-League match played in Napier.
Newcastle Jets 0
Wellington Phoenix 0