Sydney FC’s New Year starts with a bang at the Jets

Newcastle Jets 2-4 Sydney FC

By Ben Carey (7/1/23).

Above: Sydney FC celebrate the win over Newcastle Jets. Photo: Sydney FC.

Sydney FC began the new year with a dominant performance over Newcastle Jets on a windy and overcast Saturday afternoon in Newcastle.

The match began in a frenetic fashion, with an action-packed first 10 minutes. The in-form American, Madison Haley, scored the first goal just 20 seconds in after a defensive error from the Jets gave Haley the ball and she ran all the way to the goal and tucked it in past Claire Coelho. It was Haley’s fifth goal of the season. She is now level with Melina Ayres and Rylee Baisden as the league’s top scorer.

A couple of minutes later, the relentless pressure of Sydney FC exposed the frazzled Newcastle defence yet again. Mackenzie Hawkesby hit a smooth ball through to Sarah Hunter who slotted it past the keeper for her third goal of the season.

In the seventh minute, the explosive Cortnee Vine played a beautiful through ball to Hawkesby, who scored her second goal of the season, after converting a penalty against the Western Sydney Wanderers two weeks ago.

Just as the first 10 minutes were about to expire, Lauren Allan made a fantastic break past Sydney’s backline and hit a perfectly waited pass to Adriana Konjarski who tapped it in for Newcastle’s first goal of the match. The goal certainly breathed new life back into the clash.

Things settled a bit after the first 10 minutes. The Newcastle defensive structure became more solid and reliable, shutting down the visitors’ attempts. Sydney dropped off the attack a little as well. In the 23rd minute, the Jets won a free kick, which Tara Andrews aimed at the top right corner forcing a fantastic diving save from Sydney keeper Katie Offer, who is in for broken finger victim Jada Whyman.

The final 20 minutes of the first half consisted mostly of a midfield skirmish, punctuated by Sydney breaking through the Newcastle backline a few times. Hawkesby, Vine, and Hunter all made good attempts on goal, but Coelho and the Newcastle defence were equal to them.

The second half started off almost as chaotic as the first. Rain had started coming down in sheets and the wind picked up as well. An amazing, high looping corner kick from Cass Davis, in the 48th minute, floated in and was tapped over the line by Andrews, despite frantic efforts from the Sydney defence. Newcastle was now within one goal of Sydney.

Soon after the Jets’ second goal the weather began to dry up a bit, and so did the goals, for a while. But in the 63rd minute, there was a foul on Princess Ibini in the box, which resulted in a penalty kick that Ibini converted easily for her second goal of the season, after the stunning angle goal from last week against Brisbane.

Sydney FC closed out the last half hour of the match without too much difficulty, the defensive line shutting down a few probing attacks from Newcastle.

Sydney’s win made sure they have secured their place in the top four as we approach the midpoint of the season. Hawkesby had a phenomenal game for the Sky Blues once again, scoring one goal, providing an assist, and setting up several more opportunities. Vine had an exceptional game too. Her explosive movement and intent to win the ball and set up her teammates was unrelenting, and she came within an inch of scoring herself. Haley, Ibini, and Hunter also had great games, each providing a goal for their club.

Newcastle Jets captain Cass Davis put in a great shift, calming her team down after falling behind 3-0 and pulling a lot of strings in the midfield to try and orchestrate a comeback. If it wasn’t for Ibini’s penalty the last half hour of the match would have had a completely different intensity. Lauren Allen also had an excellent day at the office, with an assist to her name, as well as creating a couple more chances for her team

Newcastle Jets will take on Canberra United next Saturday and Sydney FC will face the red-hot, undefeated Western United in four days’ time away from home. That highly anticipated clash has the potential of being one of the most exciting matches of the season.

Teams: NEWCASTLE JETS (4-3-3): Coelho, Clough, Garnier, King, Allen, Brodigan, Davis, Johnson, Konjarksi, Andrews, Allan. Substitutes: Olsen (GK), Puxty, Tamplin, Stapleford, Gooch.

Scorers: Konjarski 10′ Andrews 48′.

SYDNEY FC (4-3-3): Offer, De La Harpe, Tobin, Mclean, Rule, Hawkesby, Hollman, Hunter, Ibini, Haley, Vine. Substitutes: Franco (GK), Green, Stanic-Floody, Lowe, Lemon.

Scorers: Haley 1’, Hunter 4’, Hawkesby 7’, Ibini 64’.

Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley.

Attendance: 1,024.

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