Newcastle Jets 4-2 Western Sydney Wanderers
By Kieran Yap (26/11/22)
Above: Sarah Griffith of Newcastle Jets, who scored the perfect hat-trick using both feet and her head. Photo: Newcastle Herald.
The Newcastle Jets have a new hero and she has arrived in style. Sarah Griffith scored a perfect hat trick in a 4-2 shootout with the Western Sydney Wanderers in Tamworth.
Tara Andrews added a fourth for the Jets, while Amy Harrison and Melissa Caceres both scored for a new-look Wanderers side.
Newcastle came into this game after a 2-1 loss to Brisbane Roar in Round One. That contest showed that they can attack and play an exciting style of football. This was Wanderers’ first match of 2022/23, after having a bye last week.
It is a squad assembled late, but not hastily by new manager Kat Smith, Sophie Harding started in red and black against her old side, while Clare Hunt returned to centre back and wearing the captain’s armband.
Ash Wilson started with Jets mainstay Tara Andrews as the lone striker, but with Griffith and Lauren Allan on either flank, providing an additional threat.
Griffith’s first goal came in the 12th minute. She raced onto a ball behind the Wanderers defence by Murphy Agnew. The American attacker took a touch toward goal and opened up the angle before calmly slotting it into the net.
It was the sort of chance Ash Wilson’s side had missed last week. It was a wonderfully taken goal after a slick end-to-end move that involved two passes and five touches.
The lead would not last long. seven minutes later, Caceres equalised for The Wanderers. Sophie Harding whipped in a cross from the right that was not cleared properly. The ball dropped at the edge of the six-yard box and Caceres volleyed home across the keeper to make it 1-1.
Griffith’s first goal was one of composure, her second was spectacular, and it put Newcastle back in the lead before halftime.
The Wanderers could only clear a corner kick to the edge of the 18-yard box. Griffith ran onto it and volleyed home across her body with a low right-footed shot that stunned her teammates as much as the opposition. It is a contender for goal of the week. Griffith now had one off each boot and had one more to come.
The Jets fans would have to wait until the second half for the hat trick. A long ball in from a deep free-kick bounced around the penalty box before it fell to Griffith who nodded home from close range to complete the perfect hat trick and announce a new A-League Women’s star.
The Jets continued to attack and sealed the win in the 67th minute. Agnew’s corner swung perfectly to the back post where Tara Andrews met it and scored from close range with an easily directed header.
The Wanderers did not consider themselves out of the contest and continued to attack. Amy Harrison was introduced to the match and her midfield experience and mobility caused problems for Newcastle.
After starting a move in midfield, she was eventually slipped in behind the defenders by Caceres and finished coolly to give the Wanders some respect on the scoreboard and the faint hope of a comeback.
The match ended 4-2, and Newcastle celebrated their first win of the season. It was hard to know exactly what to expect from Ash Wilson’s team before Round One. Two games later we now they will attack with pace, be a danger from set pieces and try to get in behind the defence.
Western Sydney are still finding their feet. They looked vulnerable without the ball, but capable with it. It is a different team to last season in personnel and style. They were without Young Matildas striker Sheridan Gallagher but created enough chances to suggest hope for their fans after a forgettable last season.
Teams: NEWCASTLE JETS (4-2-3-1): Worth, Tamplin, Garnier, King, Clough, Johnson (Walandouw), Davis, Allan, Agnew (Allan), Griffith (Puxty), Andrews (Stapleford)
Scorers: Griffith 12’, 36’, 58’. Andrews 67’.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS (4-3-3): Bloomer, Hristodoulou, Hunt, Keir, Matos, Gordon (Price), Steinmetz, Caceres, Harding, Caspers, (Harrison) Chlastakova (Boade)
Scorers: Caceres 19’ Harrison 76’
Referee: Kelly Jones