Western United 0-2 Newcastle Jets
By Kieran Yap (8/2/23)
Above: The Jets celebrate Ash Brogidan’s goal to seal victory over Western United. Photo: Newcastle Jets.
An Ash Brodigan wonder goal sealed an incredible win by Newcastle Jets over Western United.
The Wednesday evening fixture was a postponed Round Seven game, and a few things have changed since then.
The Jets have a new coach. Ex-Matildas assistant Gary van Egmond has stepped in to replace Ash Wilson, and Western United have shown their first signs of vulnerability, while after Round Six they looked impervious after defeating Melbourne City.
Coming into this game, both sides had lost on the weekend, and both had conceded three goals. Because of the congested fixture, Western United rotated their squad. Aleks Sinclair was given her first A-League Women’s start and Danielle Steer was replaced in attack by Khali Johnson.
Newcastle started with an attack of Sarah Griffith, Ash Brodigan and Lata Gooch. Tara Andrews was left in reserve, and Lauren Allan shifted to fullback.
The 17-year-old Gooch was the architect behind most of Newcastle’s brightest moments. Her confident dribbling and aggressive running kept Western’s defence on the back foot. For the home side, Johnson was looking dangerous, along with Angie Beard on the left wing, but could not find Hannah Keane in space with any crosses.
Newcastle had a chance to take an early lead when a Cannon Clough cross caused confusion between Natasha Dakic and Hillary Beall. Brodigan kept her feet while the others fell but her shot was mis-hit and skidded wide.
At the time, it felt like the striker had wasted a glorious chance and one that might be costly. In hindsight we know she was waiting for something more spectacular.
Newcastle’s early persistence combined with Western’s inability to maintain possession and the visitors earned a succession of corners.
It took then five attempts, but eventually, Taren King was found at the back post and nodded home unopposed to give The Jets a shock lead.
Despite some courageous leaping efforts by Sinclair, Western were unable to find an equaliser and went into the break 1-0 down.
Western United manager Mark Torcaso looked to his impressive bench at halftime. He brought on Tyla-Jay Vlajnic, Alana Cerne, and Jaclyn Sawicki. On paper, any one of those players would be enough to turn around a 1-0 scoreline.
Despite the changes, it was Newcastle who scored again. When the ball went forward toward Brodigan it looked hopeful at best. She was flanked by two of Western United’s defenders and had her back to goal.
The first touch was immaculate. Brodigan brought it down on the chest while on the run. Then in a single fluid motion, she swiveled and struck a half-volley that took everybody by surprise.
The shot flew across the face of Beall’s goal and bounced in off the post. It was one of the goals of the season from the promising young striker and gave The Jets the buffer they needed to achieve a remarkable win.
Western United never looked out of the contest, and to their credit, they continued to attack right to the final whistle, but despite Hannah Keane coming close, Worth never looked like conceding.
This is the first time that Western United have lost two games in a row, and they now face Melbourne City on the weekend, who will also want to respond to a loss to Sydney FC.
The home side rectified most of their issues from the first half. With Sawicki on, they were able to control more of midfield and win the ball of Newcastle’s creative players. However, they did look more fatigued than usual, especially in the first half. The second goal was a marvel, but they will rue the easy finish granted to King for the first. These are fixable issues, and they still remain in top spot.
For the Jets, this was nothing short of a momentous win. They were the underdogs. away from home, after an interstate trip and against the league leaders, they put in their best performance of the season.
When Western United looked to be surging for a moment, The Jets brought on Tara Andrews. It introduced another goal threat and meant that the chasing team could not throw caution entirely to the wind.
The question now for The Jets is how to build on this. Things will only get more difficult for van Egmond’s team with Sarah Griffith due to return to the NWSL in America. Her creativity and pace had been a dangerous and consistent weapon for The Jets. Although based on the performance and potential of Lara Gooch in a similar role, the solution might be simple.
That is a problem for another day. Right now, The Jets deserve to bask in this win. They have been one of the most entertaining teams all season, only failing to score in three games. Against Canberra, they looked concerningly flat. They rediscovered their spark against Western United with an unlikely win and one of the goals of the season.
Teams: WESTERN UNITED (4-1-4-1): Beall, Sardo, Cummings, Dakic, Beard, M Taranto, Sinclair, Robers, A Taranto, K Johnson, Keane Substitutes: Dall’ Oste (GK), Sawicki, Steer, Vlajnic, Cerne.
NEWCASTLE JETS (4-3-3): Worth, Allen, Garnier, King, Clough, Agnew, Davis, Johnson, Gooch, Brodigan, Griffith. Substitutes: J.A Allan, Puxty, Andrews, Coelho, T Allen.
Scorers: King 38′, Brodigan 47′.
Referee: Isabella Libri.