NEWCASTLE Jets ended a nine-game winless run and sparked their hopes of avoiding the wooden spoon with a 4-3 win against arch-rivals Central Coast at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
The Jets remain last on the points table, but they have climbed to 13 points, equal with the Mariners, who have a two-goal better for-and-against record.
With new coach Carl Robinson set to take the reins on Monday, and Irish striker Roy O'Donovan back on deck after a half-season stint with Brisbane, Jets fans are entitled to feel confident their team will eke out enough wins over the remaining 10 games to climb the ladder.
It was Newcastle's first victory since they beat Western Sydney 2-0 on November 30.
Caretaker coach Craig Deans, signing off after a five-game stint, was hopeful Sunday's win would give the Jets a welcome confidence boost to carry into their remaining 10 games.
"We've been waiting a while, so it's what we need to turn the corner and start working our way up the ladder," Deans said. "Hopefully it's just the start of a strong finish to the season."
Deans said "on stats alone, we could have won by four or five goals", and Mariners coach Alen Stajcic admitted the final scoreline "flattered" his team. The Mariners have collected the past two wooden spoons and Stajcic was disappointed that they are now facing another battle to avoid it.
"We want to finish as high up the ladder as we can," he said.
"From that respect it was really disappointing today that we couldn't get the points. We've allowed Newcastle to join us now on the same points, so there's a lot of big matches coming up for us to restore some pride and get some respect back for ourselves, and to start moving up the ladder."
Sunday's win, however, was not without some nervous moments for the home team.
The Jets dominated the opening exchanges and drew first blood in the 15th minute when fullback Matt Millar whipped in a cross, striker Abdiel Arroyo centred it with a header and Dimi Petratos finished with a powerful left-foot strike.
Ten minutes later it was 2-0 when a Petratos corner kick bounced opportunely for defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who half-volleyed into the net.
Against the run of play, the visitors reduced the deficit just before half-time when substitute Ruon Tongyik scored from a free header.
Four minutes into the second half, Central Coast were inexplicably back on equal terms when defender Jack Clisby headed home after a Milan Duric free kick.
Newcastle appeared to have regained the lead when Arroyo put the ball in the net with a header, only to be ruled offside. But there was no denying Petratos in the 52nd minute when he nailed home a half-volley after a goalmouth scramble.
Three minutes later, Central Coast's Korean import Kim Eun-Sun gave Newcastle a two-goal lead for the second time in the match with an own goal.
Just when the Jets appeared to be cruising, a miskick from goalkeeper Lewis Italiano gifted Mariners substitute Chris Harold a goal in the 86th minute to leave the match in the balance.
An injury to midfielder Ben Kantarovski was a worry for Newcastle.
Kantarovski stayed down for treatment after a challenge in the second minute and then jogged to the sideline for closer assessment.
He was replaced almost immediately by versatile Angus Thurgate.
Deans said Kantarovski felt a "tug' in his hip or thigh and it was decided not to risk him, in case he did further damage.