A last-minute strike from Adam Taggart has secured the Newcastle Jets a thrilling 2-2 draw with the Western Sydney Wanderers in an action-packed clash at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
Newcastle took the lead thanks to a wonder strike from Taggart midway through the first-half before the Wanderers level through a scintillating set-piece strike from Aaron Mooy right on the stroke of half-time.
Western Sydney skipper Michael Beauchamp put his side into the lead just after the hour mark when he was in the right place at the right time to deflect a Josh Brillante clearance into the Jets' net before Taggart snatched a share of the spoils when he poked home in the 90th minute.
The draw sees the Wanderers maintain second spot in the Hyundai A-League ladder while the draw arrests a mid-season slump for the Jets.
Newcastle were dealt a body blow on the eve of the game when marquee player Emile Heskey suffered back spams in the warm-up and was forced to sit out the match. Nicky Ward was promoted to the starting side to play alongside Taggart at the point of the Newcastle attack, with Josh Mitchell coming onto the bench.
Despite the setback the home side started brightly with Craig Goodwin and Andrew Hoole finding plenty of space on the wings and sending some dangerous crosses into the box.
Ward went close to opening the scoring in the 12th minute when Hoole sent a dangerous low-cross into the box but Western Sydney goal-keeper Ante Covic bravely dived in at the feet of Ward to snuff out a scoring chance.
Down the other end the Wanderers applied some sustained pressure with a series of corners but for the most part they were forced into hurried long-range attempts that sailed wide of the target.
The Jets continued to toil heartily and they duly opened the scoring in the 26th minute with a glorious thunderbolt from Taggart. Hoole took the ball in the midfield and weaved his way into Wanderers territory before being tackled by Matthew Spiranovic. The ball popped out to Taggart who unleashed a searing strike that found the top left corner of the net.