Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 Newcastle Jets
By Kris Goman.
This was the first W League match being played at the Wanderers Centre of Football. The pitch looked good but there’s a stand only on one side with high fencing around the other three sides. Consequently we were left with the spectacle of photographers standing on the field just behind the goal line. It was all a bit weird.
Only a small number of tickets were available and it was members only. The attendance was below 300 which is small, even by W-League standards. The Western Sydney Wanderers women normally play at Marconi Stadium and even with the current COVID restrictions, it would have allowed a lot more people to attend.
Anyhow, Wanderers’ early excursion into the box saw Nevis cross but Leena Khamis was not able to fully connect. Soon after, Libby Copus-Brown took a shot which went to the left of goal. WSW started well, had the bulk of possession and are looked dominant.
Khamis ran onto a ball in the box and was tackled and brought down. Her cries for a penalty were ignored, leaving her to hobble away. Copus-Brown then sent a cross in and Rosie Galea and Jets keeper Claire Coelho clashed in front of goal but Coelho managed to clear.
The Jets got going with a cross out to the right wing which came back in to Chloe O’Brien who took a shot that lobbed gently into Courtney Newbon’s arms. Another attack from the Jets saw a 1-2 between Tara Andrews and Rhianna Pollicina and a good shot on goal that just missed and had Newbon stretched.
Back up the other end and Jet Cassidy Davis made a mistake kicking the ball across goal and straight to Galea after being pressed by Khamis. The Wanderers forward reacted quickly and popped the ball into the bottom left hand side of the goal for her first W-league goal. 1-0 Wanderers.
The Jets were pushing hard, getting more possession and are attacking consistently. A good ball across the face of goal was missed by Newbon but no Jets were able to make contact with the ball and it went out for a goal kick. Half time came with Wanderers still 1-0 ahead.
Within a minute of returning to the field and restarting play, the ball came out to Sophie Harding on the left. She cut it back to avoid the defence and took a shot. Newbon seemed to have it covered but the ball popped out of her hands and Tara Andrews was there to pounce on it and bump it into goal for 1-1.
At 51 minutes, Leena Khamis took the ball from a throw in and held it up before swivelling and let fly with a great strike that hit the crossbar and bounces back into play. Rosie Galea was there again to follow up and punted it past Coelho for her second goal. 2-1 to Western Sydney Wanderers.
Rhianna Pollicina then got a free kick just outside the box. Tara Andrews took it and struck it well but Wanderers’ keeper Courtney Newbon tipped it up to hit the crossbar. A scramble at the left of the goal followed and Western Sydney defender Caitlin Cooper pushed it out after a heavy collision with an on-rushing Jets substitute Lauren Allan.
The commentators make an interesting comment about how Newcastle were the wooden spooners last year and that they had no imports in their team then and how this year there are very few imports playing in the whole league for a variety of reasons and that it should be a much more level playing field. This is true and the Jets are certainly holding up their end of the deal and not playing to come last this year. They also have a pretty stable team with many players still there from last year, unlike most other teams. It sets them up to be an outside chance in what is an interesting competition this year.
At the 80 minute mark, Sunny Franco went off for the Jets after causing quite a bit of trouble for Western Sydney Wanderers and was replaced by Jemma House who was the Golden Boot winner in the NPL last year.
By this time, the Jets were applying all the pressure to level up the match. A ball went across the goal then straight back across again but was gathered by Newbon and cleared.
Four minutes of extra time was announced. Allan takes a shot from distance for Newcastle that looks very dangerous and just clears the crossbar. The Wanderers are on the back foot in extra time and were forced to defend to save their lives. They did so and got the win 2-1.
Newcastle Jets ended up taking more than twice the shots on goal than the Wanderers did and for three quarters of the game looked dangerous. Western Sydney Wanderers looked a bit more composed on the ball for most of the game but when the Jets were really pushing the cracks were starting to show. Caitlin Cooper was solid in defence as usual and Leena Khamis created a lot of chances and was all over the park for the Wanderers. Rosie Galea gets player of the match for her brace.
Teams: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Newbon, Matos, Nevin, Chauvet, Cooper, Price, Copus-Brown, Middleton, Khamis, Galea, Russell. Substitutes: Willacy (GK), Gomez, Yeoman-Dale, Hunter, Henry.
Scorers: Galea 21, 52.
NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Davis, Bass, O’Brien, Pollicina, Andrews, Franco, Harding. Substitutes: Simonsen (GK), Jaber, Petratos, Allan, House.
Scorer: Andrews 46.
Referee: Kelly Jones.