W-LEAGUE: Jets aiming to stun City

Newcastle Jets Women will play their first match of the Westfield W-League 2016/17 Season on Sunday 6 November away to Melbourne City Women.

Round 1
Melbourne City FC v Newcastle Jets FC
Sunday 6 November - 3pm (AEDT)
C.B. Smith Reserve

Overall Head to Head:
Played 1
Newcastle Jets 0
Draws 0
Melbourne City FC 1

2015 Meeting:
Round 9: Newcastle Jets 0 Melbourne City FC 1 (Goad 44’) at McDonald Jones Stadium

Where they Finished in 2015:
Melbourne City FC 1st (36pts) Newcastle Jets 6th (13pts)

Bottom Line:
Melbourne City has never lost a match in the Westfield W-League and last season they rarely looked as though they would. What better opportunity then for the traveling Jets to meet Premiers and Champions from last season on the opening match day.

To call Melbourne City dominant in their inaugural season in the Westfield W-League would be a massive understatement. They were imperious and matched by no one last campaign, scoring 38 regular season goals in 12 matches and only conceding four.

They won 14 of 14 matches and the closest they came to being defeated was by the Brisbane Roar who took them to penalties after a 0-0 draw in the Semi-Finals. City was too strong even in the shoot-out winning 5-4 and before hammering Sydney FC 4-1 in the Grand Final.

However, the loss of Westfield Matilda Lisa De Vanna to the Orlando Pride is a blow for City. While she only scored two goals during the regular season last year, a lot of experience is taken out of the side when De Vanna is removed. It is difficult to replace a striker who has played over 100 matches for her country. Scottish International and second leading scoring in the Westfield W-League last season, Kim Little, is playing for Arsenal this season so her loss may also be felt in Melbourne.

But, with Little and De Vanna gone, Larissa Crummer – last season’s Westfield W-League Golden Boot – is back for her second season with City and will be looking for another strong year up front. Even when they lost two Matildas signings they gained Matildas goalkeeper, Lydia Williams, who is a coup for City and she will make it tough for the Jets to score after transferring south from Canberra United during the off-season. Look out for American international Erika Tymrak and Welsh star Jess Fishlock who will be important cogs in the City wheel in 2016/17.

While City flashed into the competition and won it in their first year, the Jets haven’t claimed a Championship in their eight years in the league. In fact, in their eight seasons in the competition, they have only cracked the finals once – back in the first season in 2008/09 – where they made the Semi-finals and were knocked out by Canberra United.

Since then it has been a testing period for the Jets, things looking bright in 2011-12 with a stronger squad on paper but even then the side struggled to gel.

After the disappointment of the 2011-12 season, Newcastle has punched well and truly above their weight, including last year where they finished just one win outside the top four under coach Craig Deans. A former Central Defender, Deans improved Newcastle’s defence dramatically.

They conceded 21 goals in 12 matches in the 2014/15 season compared to just 12 last year. But, it was in front of goal that they struggled, managing just nine goals – the lowest of any club – in their 12 regular season matches. That is where Deans will need to improve this season and with the recent signing of American striker Jen Hoy things look a little brighter.

Hoy has played 69 matches for the Princeton Tigers scoring 36 times, and has played 64 matches and put the ball in the back of the net 13 times for her current club, the Chicago Red Stars, who have loaned her to Newcastle. Local striker Rhali Dobson will be key up front as well, having scored 22 goals in 20 matches for Adamstown in Northern NSW’s Herald Women's Premier League (WPL) competition. But, it must be noted that the Westfield W-League will be a significant step up from the local WPL.

At the back, the Jets have lost goalkeeper Hannah Southwell to Rugby Sevens which is a blow, however, the signing of another American import in Kelsey Wys from the Washington Spirit brings a lot of experience to the side. Megan Oyster, who has also re-signed for another season, was the bedrock of Newcastle’s watertight defence last season playing in all 12 matches.

Key: Goals. In the regular season last year, City scored 38 and the Jets scored nine. If the Jets perform well in attack, City could lose their first match in Westfield W-League history.