Jets take flight to hand Nix first loss of season

The Newcastle Jets have pulled off their best win of the A-League Men season, a 3-0 away victory over surprise leaders Wellington Phoenix.

Apostolos Stamatelopoulos scored a double but Clayton Taylor provided the star turn, assisting the opener, scoring the Jets’ second and drawing a penalty 30 seconds after halftime.

Taylor, 19, picked up the ball behind the halfway line and beat four Phoenix players with a bustling run before being squashed in the box by retreating defenders Finn Surman and Scott Wooton.

Stamatelopoulos’ subsequent penalty put the game out of reach for Wellington, ending their unbeaten start to the season.

Rookie coach Giancarlo Italiano put the club on top of the table after six rounds, the first time the Kiwi side had made the league running in eight years.

Wellington’s loss means Western Sydney or Macarthur will replace them on top should they win their round-seven clashes.

On a blustery Saturday night, the Nix weren’t able to bring star striker Oskar Zawada into the contest, who hobbled off after an hour with a leg issue.

The Jets negotiated the conditions superbly and were ahead inside four minutes.

Taylor blitzed past Tim Payne, cutting inside and dragging the ball back for Stamatelopoulos who turned and struck inside the far post for Newcastle’s opener – and the club’s 600th A-League Men goal.

Wellington’s best first-half chances fell to goal-shy midfielders Nicholas Pennington and Alex Rufer, with nothing seriously testing Ryan Scott in the Jets net.

With the Phoenix eager to reset at halftime, Newcastle gave them a fresh headache with a second goal in the 43rd minute.

Taylor was on hand to bundle home when Alex Paulsen dropped a cross he looked surprised to have to deal with.

Payne hit the post twice in the second half as the Nix chased the match – with a 68th minute low strike and a 85th minute curling cross.

Those strikes were the closest Wellington came to a reply on the night their bubble burst.

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