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Newcastle, Wellington fight out AL draw

NZN 26/12/2016 Emma Kemp

Newcastle have climbed back into fifth spot on the A-League table and will see in the New Year inside the top six after holding a re-energised Wellington to a 2-2 draw.

The Jets twice had to come from behind at McDonald Jones Stadium on Boxing Day.

Andrew Hoole and Andrew Nabbout cancelled out goals from former Melbourne Victory duo Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler.

There were ample opportunities for a winner in an open, end-to-end affair.

Although the Jets took 18 shots to Wellington's 12, Mark Jones' side were unable to claim their first treble of victories since November 2013.

Jones said the Jets "definitely deserved" to win.

"We created numerous chances and had all the run of play (but) we opened up a little bit," he said.

"I was really disappointed with the goals we conceded - they were very sloppy.

"Having said that, we created enough chances that if it ended up 5-2 or 6-2 that (would be) a fair reflection of the game."

For the eighth-placed Phoenix, it was a missed chance to wrap up a remarkable post-Ernie Merrick resurgence and spring from last place when the coach resigned to fifth just three weeks later.

The Jets piled on all the early pressure, their pace and crisp passing causing Wellington problems at the back.

Yet for all their dominance, the spirited Phoenix clung on and claimed first blood.

Roy Krishna provided the lead-up work and the pinpoint pass that released Barbarouses, who warded off two defenders before toe-poking his first goal of the season past Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan.

The platform had been laid minutes earlier when Finkler hit the upright off a free kick following Steven Ugarkovic's alleged handball and the near-miss sparked Wellington into life, Krishna heading a Finkler corner over the bar moments later.

Halftime substitute Morten Nordstrand wasted no time evening the score on 48 minutes, latching onto a long ball and squaring up for Hoole to drill home the equaliser and his third goal of the season.

No sooner had it happened the Phoenix reclaimed the lead as Krishna drew an opponent before crossing for Finkler to tap into an empty net.

Parity was again restored when in-form winger Nabbout, who now has five man-of-the-match awards in nine appearances, curled a near-unstoppable shot inside the far post.

The 24-year-old came close to the winner when he hit the side netting and skewed a shot across goal in the final minutes.

Hoole was also denied late, and interim Phoenix co-coach Chris Greenacre was more than happy to walk away with a point that takes their unbeaten run to three games.

"Conditions were tough for the boys, it was quite warm out there," Greenacre said.

"We're just disappointed we took the lead twice and gave it up, but on reflection of the whole game the Jets probably edged it."

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