Newcastle’s finals hopes are hanging in the balance after a minute of madness cost them dearly in a 2-1 loss to A-League strugglers Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Sunday.
The Jets appeared set for victory after Adam Taggart’s 14th goal of the season gave them a 1-0 lead in the 61st minute.
But two goals within the space of a minute saw the Glory hit the lead, with Nebojsa Marinkovic’s long range free kick in the 84th minute followed by a neat header by Chris Harold shortly after.
The result left Newcastle in seventh spot – one point behind Sydney FC with just two rounds remaining.
The Jets round out their season with tricky matches against Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United at home.
Newcastle will be sweating on the fitness of star midfielder Zenon Caravella, who was forced off with a painful ankle injury in the 17th minute.
Perth’s triumph, which ended their 10-game winless run, lifted them equal on points with Melbourne Heart.
Glory are still last on the ladder due to an inferior goal difference, but they have the chance to climb off the bottom when they host Central Coast on Saturday.
Former French international William Gallas may be unavailable for that match after limping off late in the first half with an upper leg injury.
Although Glory created the better opportunities of a lacklustre opening half, the Jets had the best two chances, with both of them falling to ace striker Taggart.
A mishit pass from Glory goalkeeper Jack Duncan in the ninth minute opened the door for Taggart, who pounced on the loose ball but could only fire into the side netting from a tight angle.
Duncan was lucky not to concede on that occasion, but he saved the day in the 41st minute when he dropped his legs to block out Taggart’s shot in a one-on-one situation.
The game came to life in the final 30 minutes, with Taggart ghosting in behind Glory’s defence to finish off a nice cross from David Carney.
Marinkovic levelled the scores in stunning fashion with a curling 25m effort.
And Glory fans were once again on their feet when Harold headed home from close range a minute later.
Newcastle Jets coach Clayton Zane said Caravella could miss a month of football after straining the medial ligament in his left knee.
“He’s been very good for us,” Zane said.
“But it looks like it’s a straight swap with Ben Kantarovski, so I’m not too concerned because I think he can do an equal job to Zenon.”
Glory interim coach Kenny Lowe said Gallas had suffered a minor hamstring injury, meaning the star defender may have played his final match for Perth.
Lowe was a relieved man after watching Glory win their first match since January 10.
“It’s nice to win,” Lowe said.
“It gives everyone a lift around the place. It gives a little bit of belief.
“It gives me a certain amount of relief, more so for the players than myself.”