Gold Coast keep up the chase
Gold Coast United kept the pressure on A-League pacesetters Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC after Shane Smeltz and Charlie Miller scored to secure a 2-0 win over Perth Glory.
With league leaders Melbourne and second-placed Sydney sharing a goalless draw yesterday, third-placed Gold Coast took full advantage to trim the Victory's lead to five points with eight games remaining while also moving within two points of Sydney. Fourth-placed Newcastle Jets are not out of the hunt for the premiership after posting a fourth consecutive win.
Veteran striker Sasho Petrovski scored with seven minutes remaining to secure a 3-2 success over a determined North Queensland Fury. At Skilled Park, Gold Coast made an ideal start as Miller provided a great chip over the Perth defence on his home debut for A-League leading scorer Smeltz to volley home his 15th of the season after just two minutes.
Neither side were able to add to the score in a free flowing and open first half, but Gold Coast were eventually rewarded for a dominant second-half display as Smeltz turned provider for Miller to fire home his first goal for United with 15 minutes remaining.
At EnergyAustralia Stadium, North Queensland striker Dyron Daal struck the post after 16 minutes following an encouraging start from the basement side. However, the Jets took the lead eight minutes later as South Korean midfielder Song Jin-Hyung rose the highest to flick on Matt Thompson's corner and the effort trickled over the line despite the presence of Fury defender Chris Tadrosse.
Newcastle had the momentum and the home side doubled their lead seven minutes before the break as Song popped up at the back post to slot home after a break down the left wing by Labinot Haliti. North Queensland, though, responded a minute before the break as Netherlands Antilles frontman Daal capitalised on a goalmouth scramble.
The Fury continued to press after the break and were rewarded just after the hour mark as Newcastle defender Tarke Elrich could only head Jason Spagnuolo's chipped cross into the path of Daal and the striker volleyed into the top corner from the edge of the area. Half-time substitute Petrovski looked to have restored Newcastle's lead soon after but his effort was ruled out for offside before Robbie Fowler and Jeremy Brockie both wasted chances for the Fury.
And the home side took full advantage as Petrovski marked his 100th A-League appearance with a charging run and finish to deny a hard working North Queensland, who had slipped to the foot of the table on goal difference on Friday after Adelaide United drew with Wellington Phoenix.
"When you're winning you don't necessarily have to play pretty football, and we certainly didn't do that today, but because we're winners we just kept winning," said Jets coach Branko Culina. "If you compare the way that we played against Sydney, Adelaide, or even Gold Coast last week, you'd probably say it wasn't as fluent.
"But we achieved what no other team in the A-League has, including Melbourne and Sydney, we won four in a row. When you get to that stage, there's a little bit of stage fright there as well because you think 'oh my God, is it really possible that we can do that?' And I think that played its part, but credit to the players."