NEWCASTLE Jets closed the gap on the leading sides with a comfortable 3-1 win over the AIS in their National Youth League match at Adamstown Oval.
After a fairly even open period Newcastle took control of the match midway through the first half with three goals in a three-minute spree.
Mirjan Pavlovic, who had an impressive match before being rested at half-time, picked up a double with Jason Hoffman also getting on the scoresheet. AIS defender Marc Warren scored for the visitors in an entertaining fixture in drizzly conditions.
The win puts Newcastle on 16 points, just a point behind sixth placed Sydney, while the AIS remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
The Jets opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Umut Tokdogan chipped a ball forward for Pavlovic, who flicked the ball on to put Jason Naidovski in behind the defence. The big defender took the ball inside the box and drew the keeper before squaring to Hoffman to slot into a vacant goal from 15 yards out.
The Jets went two up just two minutes later when an Ali Abbas free-kick from 35 yards out saw Hoffman rise above the defence at the back post to head back across the face of goal where Pavlovic nodded in from point-blank range.
The home side got their third in the 20th minute when Pavlovic pounced on a defensive error from the AIS just 25 yards out from goal. He took the ball into the area before calmly slotting past goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas.
Thomas pulled off a great smothering save just a few minutes later to deny Brodie Mooy when he was played in with a nice ball from Pavlovic.
The AIS had their moments in the first half with Patrick Dixon finding space down the right flank to send in a couple of crosses for striker Eli Babalj, but Newcastle custodian Ben Kennedy comfortably cut out the danger.
The visitors eventually got on the scoresheet when Warren headed home from a well-placed corner right on the stroke of half-time to send the teams to the shed with Newcastle leading 3-1.
The AIS came out looking to keep up their momentum and almost went close to scoring just five minutes after the break when Babalj forced a good diving save from Kennedy with a smart shot at goal.
The Jets keeper pulled off another fantastic save when left winger Kamal Ibrahim curled a lovely right-footed shot from the edge of the area that looked for all money it was going inside the far post.
Down the other end, Thomas kept his side in the contest when he denied Mooy with a his legs after a well-worked play from the Newcastle side, while AIS defender Trent Sainsbury cleared a Jesse Pinto shot off the line in the 75th minute.
Mooy finally looked to have scored when he beat Thomas with a low shot only to see the ball rebound off the far post, while Bablj headed narrowly wide from a Ibrahim cross before substitute Mustafa Amnini saw his low shot saved by Kennedy in injury time.