A rusty Sydney FC have all but put a nail in the coffin of Newcastle's A-League season with a 1-0 win at Jubilee Stadium tinged with controversy.
Not only did the Sky Blues remain within touching distance of pacesetters Perth with the result in front of 12,681 fans on Saturday afternoon, it leaves the Jets with a mountain of work to do with 13 games remaining.
An own goal by Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard in the 44th minute ultimately separated the teams, however last year's grand finalists were bewildered after Jason Hoffman was controversially red-carded for kicking out at Brandon O'Neill.
Replays of the 73rd minute incident showed that Hoffman made superficial contact and appeared to be rolling over after being tackled.
Jets coach Ernie Merrick refused to lash out at referee Adam Fielding however saying that Hoffman had denied any malicious intent.
"Without seeing it I can't really comment but Jason is really annoyed because he said he never lashed out at anyone," Merrick said.
"I don't want to get into referees' decisions but really I don't think we played good enough football to win today. Whether we had 11 players or 10.
"It was a great effort from the boys but it's tough playing the last 20 minutes with 10 players."
Despite the one-man advantage, the Sky Blues couldn't capitalise in the final 21 minutes, despite a plethora of chances and should have won by another one or two goals.
They butchered what appeared a certain goal when the in-form Adam Le Fondre missed a point-blank opportunity which forced Glen Moss into a stellar save.
"I'm not worried about that," Sydney FC coach Steve Corica said when asked about their squandered opportunities.
"We're scoring goals and we've scored 27 now. Adam should have got a couple tonight. There were quite a few opportunities, I'm not worried, sometimes it happens. I'm just pleased with three points."
The deadlock was broken in the 44th minute when an outstretched Boogaard toed the ball into his own net while trying to deny Alex Brosque a goal-scoring opportunity.
The setback leaves the Jets 10 points behind the sixth-placed Adelaide United - who beat the Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night - and their finals hopes on life support.
The Sky Blues suffered a blow in just the seventh minute when defender Jacob Tratt came off with a groin problem. He is expected to be out for several weeks.
After feeling discomfort in the warm-up, the problem flared early in the game, a loss compounded by the fact Paulo Retre is still on the sidelines.
It also forced Ben Warland to play most of the game in what was his return from a four-month lay-off because of a broken foot.
They were also without Josh Brillante (suspension) and Milos Ninkovic (illness).
Australian Associated Press