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Jets keep slim hopes alive

A-League 2013-14 Round 27: Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United-slide0
Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images

Newcastle Jets have kept their slim hopes alive as they managed a 2-0 win over Adelaide United at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.

Michael Bridges celebrates winning his last regular season game
Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images

Needing a win, recovering a four goal difference and a Sydney FC loss to make the finals the Jets have done just enough to stay alive with a Sydney two goal loss to Perth on Sunday enough to send them through, it will be an anxious wait for the Jets players.

For Adelaide it has put a significant dent in the threat that they seemed to be mounting ahead of the finals, but will do little to change their situation as they were already secured a finals berth, although second is now completely out of the question.

Despite being mid-April, the Hunter has still been hot and the humidity and heat at the start of the match saw the Jets struggle, as the Reds started the match well.

But Newcastle looked to fight their way back in to the match and had the first really clear chance as David Carney sent in a ball for Emile Heskey at the near post, but he was denied as Nigel Boogaard was able to trap and clear before Heskey could come in.

But that saw the momentum swing to Newcastle and they weren’t forced to wait long as Carney sent in a corner that found an on-rushing Joel Griffiths who sent a perfect header in to the upper corner of the net to give the Jets a much needed goal.

Newcastle were continuing to go for the match and could well have had a chance as Adam Taggart and Heskey’s link up play left space for Griffiths to run in to, allowing him to square back for Taggart, who wasn’t able to add to his Golden Boot winning tally as he shot over the rbar.

Late in the half Adelaide United had a great opportunity as Bruce Djite played Sergio Cirio through but Cirio quickly lost the ball as Josh Brillante slid in and claimed the ball perfectly, keeping it 1-0 at the break.

At half time Jeronimo and Awer Mabil came in to the Adelaide side, in an effortto produce more attacking play, and they did so, keeping the Jets on the back foot for much of the half.

Not long after the break Jeronimo should have made it 1-1 as Cirio was able to get in behind the Jets and square for Jeronimo who was sliding in but couldn’t get his tap-in on target.

Knowing that anything other than a win would guarantee the Jets were out of the Finals, they worked on their defense through the half, but were looking dangerous on the counter, with Taggart going close.

In the final 20 minutes of the half the Jets had a golden opportunity to make it two as Heskey was able to send Griffths away, allowing him to confuse the Adelaide defense with some neat inter play with Tagagrt and then shot, only for Galekovic to save, the rebound fell to Griffiths who shot again but was denied by an even more spectacular Galekovic save.

With the Jets getting more and more tired Cirio was able to get through the Jets defense, but when he did he could only find the arms of Ben Kennedy, who gratefully held the ball.

Late in the half Michael Bridges came on, in the last ever match of his career and it was his actions that could well have had the biggest impact on the Jets season.

In the 90th minute Carney crossed for Bridges who was able to head the ball back to Taggart, who sealed the win, and the Golden Boot, as he sent the ball home.

In stoppage time Bridges could well have had the perfect ending as Nick Ward played Bridges through allowing him to shoot powerfully but he was denied by a Galekovic save, as he parried the ball before smothering it before it crossed the goal line.

With a win assured, the Jets were trying to lessen the goal difference gap between themselves and Sydney FC, but they couldn’t find a third, and will be anxiously sitting watching the final match of the season on Sunday, but they have at least given themselves a chance.