Jets hold Victory to frustrating draw
FOOTBALL: Melbourne Victory has missed a chance to open up the gap to third-placed Brisbane Roar, coming away from Newcastle with a scoreless draw.
Fullback Daniel Georgievski struck the upright late in the game but a sloppy Victory otherwise didn't look like scoring, becoming the first team not to score against the Jets in 16 games.
The 0-0 result at McDonald Jones Stadium, where the Victory has won just twice in 12 meetings, lifted Newcastle to sixth ahead of Western Sydney on goal difference.
The Victory failed to get into any rhythm, continually turning the ball over against the disciplined Jets, and winger Marco Rojas conceded it was a frustrating night.
"Very frustrating evening. We weren't at our best up front and they defended well," Rojas told Fox Sports.
"I'm not sure (what went wrong), we just maybe tried to go (forward) too quick and made wrong decisions, maybe needed to be calmer.
"I didn't have a great game, but they defended really well. We just panicked a bit and took the wrong options.
"When we're on our game we're good, we just need to be consistent. One win in five (games) is not great."
The Jets controlled the first half and had the bulk of the chances as they exposed Victory's high line but heavy final touches sometimes let them down.
Chinese attacker Ma Lei Lei was causing issues with his sweet left foot leaving Lawrence Thomas on high alert, including a good save from a long-distance strike as half-time approached.
An intriguing duel between Nick Ansell and Danish striker Morten Nordstrand ensued late in the first half.
The Victory defender cut him down as he was through on goal, earning a booking, before Ansell redeemed himself, desperately getting his toe on a Jason Hoffman cross with Nordstrand sniffing.
The same storyline continued in the second stanza, with Thomas's quick reflexes thwarting a Nordstrand header before a good save off dangerous Andrew Hoole's strike.
Jets keeper Jack Duncan almost undid his team's good work, clearing the ball straight at Besart Berisha before James Troisi fired the ensuing strike back at Duncan.
Hoole and former Victory man Andrew Nabbout were having a field day running at Victory's defence, who were under constant pressure.
Leigh Broxham was dropped on a rare occasion, with Georgievski starting at left-back after spending the bulk of the last few months on the bench after recovering from a collarbone injury.
Georgievski was solid, but he came into the game after Broxham replaced Oliver Bozanic, bursting forward to unleash from outside the box but struck the upright.
He then slipped through Besart Berisha after a surging run forward, but Jets defender Nigel Boogaard slid in to stop the striker as he was about to pull the trigger.
Victory had a late penalty appeal via James Troisi, though replays suggested it would've been a soft call.
The draw leaves the Victory 11 points behind Sydney FC and seven ahead of Brisbane.