NEWCASTLE Jets gave Sydney FC a hell of a fright and proved that the A-League is anything but a one-horse after a pulsating 2-all against the defending champions at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday night.
The visitors, who were without six starters, led twice and had more clear cut chances, especially in the first half.
But in the end a late header from Bobo and a special goal from Milos Ninkovic earned Sydney a share of the points and extended their unbeaten run at home to a record 25 games.
Sydney and Newcastle sit one-two on the table and the contest lived up to the billing.
Andew Nabbout put the Jets ahead with a header in the 10th minute. His goal was cancelled out by a sublime individual effort by Ninkovic six minutes later.
But when Jets rookie and man of the match Joe Champness volleyed home in the 63rd minute a upset was on the cards.
Sydney threw everything at the visitors in a tense final 15 minutes.
Bobo, well contained for 80 minutes, appeared certain to equalise when he skipped past Jets keeper Glen Moss. But as the Brazilian was about put the ball in the net Lachlan Jackson slid into to make a crucial block.
But the league’s leading goal-scorer wouldn’t be denied three minutes later, climbing high to nod in a Adrian Mierzejewski cross.
The draw leaves Sydney eight points clear of the Jets, who have the same gap over Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City in equal third.
However, the Jets have six players to come back in led by Ronny Vargas, Roy O’Donovan and Patricio Rodriguez, who arrived on Wednesday from Argenitine.
Sydney also have to juggle Asian Champions Leaggue commitments starting next moth.
Apart from Champness, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who was playing his 250th game, was immense for Newcastle. In fact, it was hard to find a bad player.
Ninkovic praised the Jets and said they were deserved of their position on the ladder.
“We need to give credit to Newcastle, they played very good football,” the Serbian said. “They are a very good team and have proved it week in, week out and deserved one point.”
Sydney coach Graham Arnold challenged the Sky Blues to better their 6-0 mauling of Perth Glory which he had predicted the previous week.
Jets coach Ernie Merrick was happy with the draw and had a good-natured dig at Arnold.
“We did well in the first half but we always knew our youngsters would struggle in the second half,” Merrick said.
“We played with a lot of effort and when we made mistakes we made up for it. There was lots of effort when we needed it. I’m glad the Sydney players wrote the score up on the whiteboard before the game. They obviously wrote 2-all.”
The Jets were without skipper Nigel Boogaard and midfield enforcer Ben Kantarovski, and had lost nine straight to Sydney.
But the visitors were anything but intimidated.
They were on the front foot from outset and took the lead in the 10th minute when Nabbout slipped between two defenders and crashed a header past Andrew Redmayne.
But the league leaders were soon back on level terms thanks to the brilliance of Ninkovic.
Played in by Bobo, the Serbian danced past three Jets defenders before lifting a shot over Glen Moss.
Unpeturbed, the visitors continued to spring forward.
Demit Petratos and Nabbout found space between and behind the lines and Joe Champness was a constant threat down the left.
Jason Hoffman thought he scored for a third week when he volleyed a Nabbout cross into the left corner in the 32nd minute only to be flagged for off-side. The winger protested but repays showed the assistant referee was correct.
Champness and Nabbout also went close in a pulsating first half.
Sydney had scored 11 goals and conceded none in the opening 15 minutes of the second half of their previous 14 games against the Jets.
Bobo, who had come off consecutive hat-tricks, had a golden chance but scuffed his shot from six metres.
The Jets survived that period and took the lead in the 63rd through a fantastic finish by Champness.
Petratros delivered an out-swinger corner across goal for the rookie to hit first time into the top left corner.