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2018/19 Australian A League, Regular Season
  • Kaine Sheppard (54')

Newcastle Jets edge Central Coast as Kaine Sheppard caps dream week with winner

Kaine Sheppard capped a memorable week with a match-winning goal as Newcastle hung on for a 1-0 victory over derby rivals Central Coast at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Sheppard, in just his third start for Newcastle, finished with his left foot in the 54th minute from a Roy O'Donovan cross after Dimi Petratos put him into space.

The 25-year-old former Victorian NPL player had this week signed a one-year contract extension with the club.

It was the Jets' fifth consecutive victory over the Mariners and broke a five-game winless streak in the A-League, lifting the seventh-placed side to 15 points after 15 rounds.

Last-placed Mariners came agonisingly close to an equaliser through Jordan Murray in the 63rd and 65th minutes. Murray's header was just wide before Ivan Vujica deflected his close-range shot over the crossbar with a desperate lunge.

Jonathan Aspropotamitis hit the woodwork with a header for the visitors in the 79th minute before Connor Pain missed his chance off the rebound.

The Jets' best chance for a second came with a Petratos free kick in the 88th that Ben Kennedy tipped over the crossbar.

The Mariners came close to earning a point in stoppage time, having two shots on target blocked by defenders.

A fuming Central Coast coach Mike Mulvey was "aggrieved at the result" after claiming O'Donovan was offside in the lead up to the goal and that the Jets handled in the penalty area in stoppage time.

"I think the guys at least deserved a point," Mulvey said. "We got caught with a through ball which in my opinion was clearly offside when the ball was played through to O'Donovan.

"And I'm at a loss to understand why it wasn't checked properly by VAR, and if it was checked properly by VAR, we weren't given an explanation.

"The explanation I got from the fourth official was 'it's too close to call it in the studio'. I've got five messages on my phone saying that guy was clearly offside."

Jets coach Ernie Merrick has been a critic of refereeing decisions against his side and was glad to come out on the other side of them.

"It's unusual for that not to go against us," Merrick said. "I don't see the replays, so I don't know whether it was offside or not. It must be tough for them, nothing seems to fall for them, and it's first time it's fallen for us for a while."