The Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets defeated Sydney FC 1-0 in a pre-season trial match at WIN Stadium in Wollongong on Saturday night.
The Jets started the match strongly, creating two clear-cut opportunities to take the lead inside the first 10 minutes.
Jets captain Ruben Zadkovich picked up the ball in space inside the penalty area in the third minute of the contest, but could only hit his right-footed drive at Sydney FC shot-stopper Vedran Janjetovic.
James Virgili had an even better opportunity to give Newcastle the lead just three minutes later when he found himself one-on-one with Janjetovic after stripping Sydney defender Matthew Jurman of the ball.
Virgili opted to go for placement over power, but Janjetovic was equal to the task, making a brilliant diving save to deny the Jets winger.
The Sky Blues responded with a couple of enterprising forays down the right wing, with fullback Sebastian twice whipping dangerous balls into the box that forced the Newcastle defence to scramble and clear their lines.
Zadkovich forced Janjetovic into action once again in the 17th minute when he won a free-kick 25 metres out from Sydney’s goal.
The Newcastle skipper stepped up to take the free-kick, getting it over the wall and on target, only for Janjetovic to make a comfortable save.
After sending most of their attack down the right flank earlier in the half, Sydney switched their attacking impetus to the left side of the field.
The tactic almost paid dividends when fullback Marc Warren beat a pair of Jets defenders on the left wing, before firing a shot across the face of Mark Birighitti’s goal.
A short time later, Virgili forced Birighitti’s opposite number into action, with a stinging shot from a tight angle bringing out a good save from Janjetovic at his near post.
The Sky Blues had the last clear-cut opportunity of the half on 45 minutes when Christopher Naumoff forced Birighitti to react quickly after the young striker had latched onto Richard Garcia's cross from the right-flank.
The Jets started strongly after the interval and took the lead through Virgili in the 53rd minute.
Michael Bridges showed sharp footwork to turn his defender near the halfway line, before playing a delightful through ball to Virgili.
The pacey winger took on Sydney FC defender Tiago Calvano, before side-footing a perfectly placed shot past Janjetovic’s near post and into the bottom corner.
Sydney almost hit back five minutes later, with Joel Chianese cutting-in from the left flank and curling a right-footed shot that looked destined for the bottom corner, only for Birighitti to pull off an outstanding diving save.
A short time later, Sydney FC had their claims for a penalty turned down after the referee ruled there to be no infringement when Tiago went down in the box.
The inevitable onslaught of second half substitutions from both camps broke up the tempo of the match after the 60th minute, with both sides taking a while to settle back into the contest after a raft of changes.
The next clear-cut scoring chance did not come until the 77th minute, with former Western Sydney Wanderers striker Joey Gibbs curling a shot from 20 metres out towards the top corner that brought a diving save from Janjetovic.
Despite some late pressure from the Sky Blues, the Jets were able to hang on and secure a 1-0 victory.
Newcastle Jets 1 (Virgili 53’)
Sydney FC 0