NEWCASTLE snatched a dramatic a 2-2 A-League draw with high-flyers Western Sydney, after an Adam Taggart goal at the death stole a point for the Jets tonight.
Taggart produced a long-range missile to put the hosts in front at Hunter Stadium before netting his eighth of the season in injury time.
Aaron Mooy and skipper Michael Beauchamp returned fire for the Wanderers in what was a see-sawing battle.
But the drama didn’t end at the final whistle with striker Joel Griffiths bizarrely red-carded after fulltime for dissent in a dramatic homecoming for the striker.
For the first time this season, Tony Popovic fielded the same starting XI in consecutive games, retaining the side who dominated Perth last week.
But the Jets were dealt an early blow, forced to withdraw marquee man Emile Heskey from the starting side at the 11th hour after the striker suffered back spasms in the warm-up with Nicholas Ward his replacement.
The Wanderers immediately took control of the match putting the Jets under pressure from the get go.
But, against the run of play, Newcastle somehow took the lead in the 27th minute.
Andrew Hoole weaved his way through the Wanderers’ defence but, finding himself at a dead end in the box, played the ball back with Taggart leaping onto it to fire his superb strike from 25 metres out.
Desperately chasing an equaliser, it wasn’t long before the Wanderers found one with dead-ball specialist Mooy doing what he does best, slotting home from a free-kick from about 20 metres out just before the break.
Prodigal son Griffiths came on as a substitute in the 64th minute, stepping onto the Hunter stadium pitch for the first time in almost five years to a rousing reception from the 15,924-strong crowd.
But the excitement was short-lived with the Wanderers taking the lead the next minute.
Shinji Ono caused a goal-mouth scramble with a perfectly placed corner into the box with keeper Mark Birighitti attempting to diffuse the danger before a Josh Brillante clearance rebounded off Beauchamp’s shoulder into the net.
Taggart then levelled with an equally scrappy effort after getting onto a ball from Hoole in the dying minutes.
But just as the Jets were set to celebrate, Wanderers gloveman Ante Covic swept the goal-bound Taggart off his feet.
Griffiths appealed to the referee for a free-kick only to cop a red card after the whistle was blown.