Newcastle Jets have claimed a thrilling 4-3 win over Central Coast Mariners at Hunter Stadium in the National Youth League.
The Jets controlled the match from the opening whistle with first half goals to Chris Grossman, Andrew Hoole and a double to Kale Bradbery giving the home side a 4-1 lead at the break.
The Mariners pulled a goal back early in the second half when Michael Neil added to Patrick Dixon's first half effort to make it 4-2. A Tomislav Cirjak goal four minutes from full-time ensured a tense finish but the Jets regained control to see out the match and claim an impressive victory.
The win lifts the Jets to 16 points just two behind the table-topping Mariners.
The match started in hot, blustery conditions and it was the Jets who had the better of the opening with striker Bradbery seeing his rushed shot deflected wide in the sixth minute and Samuel Gallaway heading over the bar from the ensuing corner.
The Jets made their pressure pay when Hoole made a incisive run down the right wing before weaving into the box and crossing for Bradbery. The striker's shot was blocked by goalkeeper Daniel Sadaka but Grossman pounced on the loose ball and drilled his shot from 15 metres into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead after just nine minutes.
Mariners defender Adam Jenner was shown a yellow card when he pulled down Bradbery when it looked like the striker might go one-on-one with Sadaka after chasing up a well-placed long ball.
The home side doubled their lead on the 20-minute mark when Hoole made another weaving run into the box from the right wing before stabbing a sharp shot from an acute angle that snuck inside the far post.
Down the other end the Mariners were forced to shoot from long range. Anthony Caceres fired a thunderbolt from 25m out while Patrick Dixon launched a stinging shot from the edge of the area, both parried away acrobatically by Newcastle goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski.
The Mariners had a golden chance to hit back when Dixon sped into the box before squaring to Adam Kwasnik who somehow ballooned his shot over the crossbar from just six yards out.
The Jets got their third goal on the half-hour mark when Mitch Cooper played a delightful through ball for Bradbery who took the play wide in the box before squeezing a low left-foot shot past Sadaka to make it 3-0 after 31 minutes.
The Mariners clawed their way back into the contest with a piece of individual brilliance from Dixon who beat the offside trap just inside the Jets territory. He then deftly dribbled the ball around Vrteski and guided the ball into the back of the net.
The home side had the last say in an action-packed half when Hoole played a great ball to Bradbery who turned and slotted home from the edge of the area to make it 4-1 to Newcastle at half-time.
The Mariners needed to respond and did early in the second half when fullback Michael Neill was afforded too much space on the edge of the area and he threaded a low shot into the far corner of the net to make it 4-2 after 51 minutes.
Both sides made a host of changes on the hour mark with Jets winger Radovan Pavicevic having the most impact shooting narrowly wide on two occasions and creating plenty of inroads down the left flank.
The Mariners ensured the match of a thrilling finish when substitute Cirjak swung in a long-range free kick to make it 4-3 with four minutes to play but the Jets saw the game out comfortably for a well-deserved win.
Newcastle Jets 4 (Grossman '9, Hoole '20, Bradbery '31, '40)
Central Coast Mariners 3 (Dixon '35, Neill '51, Cirjak '86)