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 By AAP

Kevin Muscat rues missed chances as Victory slips to another Jets loss

They weren't at their exhilarating best, but Newcastle still managed to compound Melbourne Victory's A-League pain, prevailing 2-0 to hold second place on the ladder.

Nigel Boogaard scored for the first time in more than 15 months before recruit Riley McGree came off the bench to tap home his maiden club goal on Saturday at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Ernie Merrick's side move seven points ahead of third-placed Melbourne City -- who play on Sunday -- and nine behind leaders Sydney FC.

The Jets are on the verge of securing a finals berth for the first time since 2010.

"It was a very tight affair because there wasn't much given away in midfield and anyone on the ball was closed down very quickly," Merrick said.

"The longer the game went on, especially when we went up 2-0, they were going to throw numbers forward. So we had to weather that storm."

Victory have only one win from their past 12 trips to the Hunter.

While they adjusted well to life without Mark Milligan, Besart Berisha missed a host of chances that could have changed the game.

The billed match-of-the-round was rife with turnovers and mis-hits -- not the most enthralling for new Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk to watch.

Roy O'Donovan, in his long-awaited injury return, fired a header wide from point-blank range and then lazily drew a strike across the goal face.

Matias Sanchez & Roy O'Donovan
Newcastle striker Roy O'Donovan made a successful return from injury in Saturday's 2-0 win over the Victory.

Socceroos hopeful Dimi Petratos was lively and provided the free kick for Boogaard's 31st-minute opener, a terrific cross that skimmed the skipper's head and diverted into the far corner.

"We created a number of chances, possibly twice as many strikes on goal as them," Victory coach Kevin Muscat said.

"We were starting to impose ourselves on the game away from home, and then to concede off that set piece -- those moments are huge."

The Jets perhaps had a slight upper hand but Victory were not short on chances. Jack Duncan made two top-class reflex saves to deny Kosta Barbarouses and Berisha.

After half-time, Andrew Nabbout was shown a yellow card for a bad head clash with Lawrence Thomas.

Nabbout was taken off on a stretcher and replaced by Matt Acton.

Thomas was taken to hospital but the club said he'd been cleared of serious injury.

Duncan came to the fore again to stop a barrelling Barbarouses strike while Berisha, who had not scored at this venue since 2014, fluffed a header, was denied in a scramble and dragged a late shot wide.

It was all to Victory's detriment when McGree replaced O'Donovan in the 65th minute.

The former Adelaide midfielder had been on only five minutes when Jason Hoffman played in Nabbout and the winger-cum-striker crossed for McGree to tap in at the far post.

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