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LIVE: Newcastle Jets 1-0 Wellington Phoenix – Fitzgerald scores on stroke of half-time

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LIVE: Newcastle Jets 1-0 Wellington Phoenix - Fitzgerald scores on stroke of half-time

Thursday night football throws up an entertaining clash between finals-bound Wellington Phoenix and the vastly-improved Newcastle Jets.

While the Jets’ finals hopes evaporated last week, Phoenix are still in the hunt for a top-two finish.

But Ufuk Talay’s Wellington will need to rediscover their form before the finals, having failed to win any of their last three games, (2D, 1L).

The Jets have been big improvers since Carl Robinson took the reins earlier in the year and haven’t tasted defeat in their three games since the competition’s resumption, with wins over Sydney FC and Western United.

The two clubs met just once this season, with goal to Ulises Davila 20 minutes from time handing Phoenix a 2-1 win back in January.

Who will come out on top tonight?

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Key moments

Debutant keeper James uses his head

Phoenix dominated the early exchanges and created a couple of excellent chances, with the best of those coming on 13 minutes.

An in-swinging corner made its way to David Ball at the far post, with the Englishman heading it back across to Matti Steinmann.

The German got his head to the ball at close range which was going in, but teen gloveman Noah James managed to keep it out with his head. Amazing stuff!

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Jets strike on cusp of the break

Newcastle were second best for much of the half but grew into the contest the longer it went on, and got their reward in the final minute before the break.

Some neat build-up saw Angus Thurgate drive at the heart of the Phoenix defence before slipping the ball to Fitzgerald just inside the box.

The Jets attacker took his shot first time, with the ball deflecting off Luke DeVere and slipping past Stefan Marinovic and into the back of the net.

WATCH: Fitzgerald ensures Jets go to half-time in front

Is that Marinovic or Superman?

The goal before the break seemed to inspire the Jets who almost doubled their lead three minutes after the resumption.

Dimitri Petratos picked up possession 25 yards from goal and dribbled around a couple of Phoenix defenders before unleashing a powerful left-foot strike.

Petratos’ shot took a slight deflection and seemed destined for the back of the net only for Stefan Marinovic to tip it around the post at full-stretch. A jaw-dropping save!

WATCH: Sensational stop from Phoenix’s gloveman

Team news

Carl Robinson’s final starting 11 of the season comes with one major surprise, with youngster Noah James named for his first Hyundai A-League start.

The side’s attack has also been re-jigged with Dimitri Petratos and Abdiel Arroyo into the team, pushing Bernie Ibini and Roy O’Donovan to the bench.

There’s two changes to the Wellington side, including the return of central defender Luke DeVere after he served a one-game suspension.

Callum McCowatt also comes into the run-on side at the expense of Gary Hooper.

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around the grounds

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