Newcastle Jets 1-1 Perth Glory
By Ben Gilby (16/1/22)
Above: Newcastle Jets jump for joy after Liz Eddy’s equalizer. Photo: Newcastle Jets.
Perth went into the game on the back of the most challenging week possible as a 4-0 loss to Sydney FC was followed by three players plus head coach Alex Epakis testing positive for COVID and key attacking threats Susan Phonsongkham and Cyera Hintzen suffering injuries.
Consequently, the Western Australians made six changes with Morgan Aquino coming back in goal, 19-year-old Abbey Green played her first A-League Women game for a year after a successful WA NPL campaign with Murdoch University Melville. Her fellow Murdoch team-mate Sadie Lawrence also started after scoring 10 times in the state competition. Hana Lowry was back along with Lisa De Vanna and Deborah-Ann de la Harpe. New signing Leena Khamis was on the bench with teenager Aideen Keane also appearing there.
The Jets, playing their first game due to a COVID outbreak in almost three weeks saw Marie Markussen miss out altogether and Emily van Egmond’s short-term deal is now at an end.
The visitors were tidy and comfortable on the ball, putting on a high press with De Vanna looking full of pace in the early stages. Yet the real Glory star in the opening exchanges was Deborah-Ann de la Harpe. The 21-year-old was getting plenty of space on the right-hand side and used her pace well to get plenty of crosses into the box.
From one such run, the Caringbah-born player put in a high ball which came off the back of De Vanna’s head at the far post with the ball bouncing just over the bar. Hana Lowry also had an opportunity with a curling free-kick from some 20 yards which bounced into the midriff of Claire Coelho in the Jets goal.
Lowry’s performance during this game highlighted the different skill set she is bringing to the Perth Glory side this season. She is playing a deeper role to showcase her passing vision and movement and is growing with every week.
For all their early industry, Perth couldn’t convert and the Jets, backed by a typically vocal No. 2 Sportsground crowd edged their way back into the encounter.
A first real chance for the hosts came via Liz Eddy’s corner from the right. Tara Andrews got up highest to head goalwards, Liz Anton miscued her attempted clearance which allowed Kirsty Henton to flick a header back to Sophie Harding to get a shot in which Morgan Aquino dived upon. Nine minutes before the break Harding had another chance when she got a powerful effort away which stung the palms of Aquino.
Jets tested the Perth goalkeeper once more shortly afterward as a long ball forward bounced between visiting defenders for Ash Brodigan to slide in, but Aquino came out and made a superb block with her legs to deny the Broadmeadow Magic NPL star.
Perth started the second half on the front foot and finally took advantage of their increased possession to take the lead with 54 minutes on the clock.
Danish international Mie Leth Jans played a perfectly judged ball over the top which Lowry instantly brought under control in the box, turned, and fired a low shot into the far corner. It was a real moment of magic by the 18-year-old locally produced Perth player. It was the fourth senior goal of her career, two of which have come in Newcastle.
Two minutes later, De Vanna broke through the centre of the Jets defence and fired in a shot which Coelho did well to push away from a corner. The resulting flag kick from Lowry was met by the head of captain Tash Rigby who saw her header come back off the bar.
Jets replied as Eddy looped a ball through for newly arrived Lauren Allen whose effort came back off the bar, although the sub was flagged offside.
Past the hour mark there was another sign of vintage De Vanna magic when the 37-year-old Western Australian put in an outrageous turn to get away from Tiana Jaber.
Sakalis earned a free-kick in a central position in the ‘D’ brought down by Beth Gordon. Up stepped de la Harpe to fire in a rocket of a set-piece that was destined for the top right-hand corner of the net until Coelho pushed onto the bar with a sensational save.
With 20 minutes to play, Jets had a rare, but golden opportunity. Harding pulled a tempting low ball across the box, but Jemma House coming in at the far post couldn’t get on the end of it.
This buoyed the home side and they went on to take firm control of the remainder of the match.
Six minutes later, they had better luck as Eddy was found in the box by Allan to slide the ball into the left-hand corner under the diving Aquino. Given the run of play in the second half, it was a painful lesson for Perth to take.
Jets were denied a famous comeback when Allan played in Harding on the left. Her cross was met by the head of House, but the ball came crashing back off of the bar.
Eddy came close in the dying stages for Newcastle, beating Kim Carroll and putting a shot agonizingly wide of the far post.
One final chance came in stoppage time when the Jets were awarded a questionable free kick on the right-hand side. Eddy clipped it into the near post where it was met by Allan, but her effort was over the top.
This was a game that Perth Glory had more than enough chances to win, however, given the context of their week and the number of key players they are missing, there was a lot of positives for the visitors.
Deborah-Ann de la Harpe reflected: “We have a strong squad of 23. We have united together and put on a good performance. We needed a few more numbers in the box, be relentless and back ourselves a bit more after the first half, (and it worked).”
Hana Lowry was pleased with the team’s overall performance, but frustrated with only taking a draw: “We need to be more clinical, we had more chances that we could have converted. There was a slip-up for their goal. We need to win, so it’s disappointing.
“It’s been a tough time. We’ve been away from our families for five weeks, there’s girls and Alex (Epakis, head coach) in lockdown with COVID plus injuries. But there is real resilience in our squad. The players that we brought in did well and they should be proud of themselves.
Speaking from his team’s North Sydney hub about his views of the game from afar, Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis said: “If you remove the scoreline and just talk about the performance within the context of our week, it is so difficult to fault the players today.
“They were excellent in their attitude, excellent in their focus and they really had a point to prove. Today’s performance was more about what we’re building towards and what we are as a team.
“We’re disappointed with the scoreline and we’re disappointed that we didn’t take our chances, but we need to balance out where we are at. When you walk away feeling you were the dominant team but you don’t take the three points, it’s frustrating.”
Talking about the six changes made to the team today, Epakis highlighted: “I was really happy with all those who came in. Sadie Lawrence spent her whole tank for the team. Abbey Green did well in an unfamiliar position. Sofia (Sakalis) and a few others had to do jobs in positions that are not familiar too.
“We needed to get some belief back that we can compete with teams in this competition and we did that tonight. We can go into the second half of the season and, if we can get our best 11 on the field consistently, I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
Teams: NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Fenton, Davis, King, Jaber, Johnson, Gordon, Eddy, Harding, Andrews, Brodigan. Substitutes: House, Allan, Franco, Gooch, Boric (GK).
Scorer: Eddy 77′.
PERTH GLORY: Aquino, Green, K.Carroll, Anton, Rigby, Jans, Lawrence, Lowry, De Vanna, de la Harpe, Sakalis. Substitutes: Cain, Keane, Craine, Khamis, Newbon (GK).
Scorer: Lowry 54′.
Referee: Caitlin Williams.