Andrew Nabbout celebrates his goal.
Andrew Nabbout celebrates his goal.

‘Out of this world’: How Jet inspired historic win

IF there is one player to have epitomised the Newcastle Jets' rise from cellar dweller to genuine A-League contender, it's Andrew Nabbout.

Just as the Jets were in the finals wilderness for so long, Nabbout departed Melbourne Victory, then spent time in Malaysia, before being thrown a second chance by the Jets ahead of last season.

Since then, Nabbout, like his team, has gone from strength to strength.

And amid speculation of an imminent move overseas - with Japanese powerhouse Urawa Red Diamonds a rumoured destination - Nabbout was under pressure to perform.

Pre-game, Archie Thompson said he expected Nabbout to lift under the speculation, rather than be hampered by it.

"If anything I think it would bring confidence to the player," Thompson said.

"He's had an exciting start - all season he's been one of their talismans so (he's got) every right for teams to be in the market - I think he's been outstanding.

"And look, when you think where he's come from, he had to go to Malaysia to get his career back on track, I think it was even the second division there.

"He had an outstanding first half of the season then they decided to let him go for whatever reason, I don't understand why, and again that put him back.

"But that just shows the mentality of this kid. I mean I was really impressed with him at Melbourne Victory and I thought that he should have stayed at Victory and maybe even when there was an opportunity for him to play he was overlooked.

But still, his mentality was strong. I think that's what's built him into the person and character and player he is today.

"Nothing seems to faze him and so he should have those bids from wherever it might be."


Andrew Nabbout thanks the crowd. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)
Andrew Nabbout thanks the crowd. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)


And Nabbout certainly didn't seem fazed as he produced a best-afield effort as his team delivered one of the performances of the season in beating Sydney FC 2-1 with 10 men.

The early send-off of Roy O'Donovan threatened to dampen the spirits of the Jets.

But instead of folding, they rallied.

Instead of gritting their teeth for the next 75+ minutes, they took the game to Sydney FC.

First, Dimi Petratos converted a penalty won by Nikolai Topor-Stanley to hand the Jets the lead in the 43rd minute.

Then, the Jets again could have slumped after Bobo equalised - heading home Jordy Buijs' free kick in the 52nd minute - but instead, the went on the attack.

And just four minutes after the equaliser, they led once more.

The crowd held its breath as Nabbout jinked around one defender, before cutting through the centre of the Sydney defence and slamming a fizzing shot past Andrew Redmayne.

If Nabbout wasn't attracting attention beforehand, he certainly will be now.

"Well the whispers about a move to Japan are gonna become a roar," Harper said.

"And I reckon on the basis of this sheer brilliance from Andrew Nabbout, he should pack his lunch box full of sushi, because this train's out of town.

"That is out of this world, beautiful from Nabbout.

"Athleticism, confidence to pick the ball up inside half way and turn the Sydney defence around and then take a ticket.

"'Why not, I'm in form - I scored the best goal in the world a couple of weeks ago and I'll have another go now if you don't mind!'"

The goal would ultimately prove to be the matchwinner, with the Jets having multiple chances to double their lead.

Meanwhile, in the 79th minute, Daniel Georgievski produced a magnificent goal-line block to deny a deflected goal - reflecting the pure grit and determination of his team.

Fox Sports' Andy Harper said the win was a credit to the Jets' fighting spirit, in front of a packed out, vocal home town crowd of 18,156.

"This performance is dipped in Newcastle bronze. This is what Newcastle sport is all about. This is what Newcastle football has been about for 130 years," he said.

"And it's taken a while to rediscover it.

"Ernie Merrick has walked into town and coalesced all the great history, all the great steel in Newcastle sport and we're seeing it here today.

"It's been an incredible performance against the best team arguably the competition has ever seen who've had a man advantage and they're edging close to the line.

"It will be a historic night … Newcastle have made their statement here this evening."

From Nabbout's 86th-minute departure, the Jets held on for a brilliant win - their first over Sydney FC since 2012.

When their star forward departed the field, he took several moments to thank the crowd and embrace his teammates.

But post-match, he said he wasn't sure whether that appearance would be his last in Jets colours.

"I'm not sure ... it's interest, like there's been all year," he told Fox Sports.

"I just wanted to give the fans the recognition that they deserved because they pushed us through that at the end.

"I thought that they were immense for us, they were our 12th man so to speak, so we're very proud of them, we're very proud of the boys."

Regardless of whether Nabbout departs, the Jets can rest easy in the knowledge that they have Pato Rodriguez and the almost-forgotten Ronald Vargas waiting in the wings.

And if Nabbout is potentially off to bigger and better things, then so too, are the Jets.

The finals await.

And so maybe, the dream can continue.