The Newcastle Jets have beaten Adelaide united 2-0 at Hunter Stadium to keep their hopes of a finals berth alive.
Goals to Joel Griffiths in the 21st minute and Adam Taggart in the 90th ensured the Jest will now have a nervous wait until Sunday to see if Perth Glory can topple Sydney FC, which would allow Newcastle to retain sixth spot.
United are in fourth but could end up in sixth depending on other results.
It was a case of what might have been for the Reds, who started well, dominated possession and had several chances to score but could not provide that vital finishing touch when it mattered.
Marcelo Carrusca and Fabio Ferreira were again at their creative best for the visitors, Carrusca forcing a save from Jets keeper Ben Kennedy in the sixth minute.
Newcastle’s first goal came from a corner as David Carney sent the ball curving into the area where Griffiths’ header hit the top corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
It was a turning point for the Jets, who quickly followed up with chances to Samuel Gallaway and Taggart, both of which were off-target.
Adelaide coach Josep Gombau made two changes at the break, bringing on Jeronimo Neumann and Awer Mabil for Michael Zullo and Cameron Watson, which sparked the Reds into action.
United created a number of chances, forcing the Jets defence to scramble the ball clear time and again.
Newcastle were tiring but holding steady, while Adelaide were becoming increasingly more desperate in their desire to score.
The Jets then brought on Nick Ward for Emile Heskey and veteran Michael Bridges, in his last appearance for the club, for Griffiths.
It proved to be a masterstroke, as it was Bridges who would set up Taggart for the sealer in the 90th minute for his 16th goal of the season and, most likely, the golden boot.
It was a missed opportunity for Adelaide, who will surely rue their inability to convert weight of possession into goals and, more importantly, three points.
Gombau doesn’t seem to be too worried however, saying in his post-match interview that he was satisfied with his team’s performance and the players remain confident ahead of the finals.
Fair enough, United have had a good season but there is still work to do and an opportunity to grab with both hands.
In my mind, Adelaide can challenge any of the other teams in the top six and beat them on their day.
With the pressure and knock-out nature of a finals series, this could well lead to something special.
We wait and see.
What did you think of the Reds performance against the Jets? How far can they go in the finals?