The Newcastle Jets have bowed out of the Westfield W-League Final Series after an extra time defeat at the hands of Sydney FC at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday afternoon.
The Jets didn’t go down without a fight however, with a gritty backs-against-the-wall performance that saw them overcome a two-goal deficit with only ten on the pitch for a bulk of the fixture.
In what can only be described as one of the games of the season, the Jets earned plenty of new fans – even if the result didn’t go their way.
The match started full of energy, with both teams looking to gain the ascendency early and it would be the Sky Blues who would strike first through Caitlin Foord.
The early lead came after De Vanna played in her fellow Matilda, who produced a jinking run in the box to beat the Jets defence and diving Britt Eckerstrom.
The Jets weren’t without chances of their own, as van Egmond and Brewer almost caught Aubrey Bledsoe off guard with a couple of opportunistic shots from long range.
Luck seemed to be falling the home side’s way and Kylie Ledbrook made the most of it as she doubled Sydney’s advantage with a dipping, first-time strike that just beat Eckerstrom in the air.
As half time approached the Jets task was made even more difficult, as Hannah Brewer was shown a red card in controversial circumstances following a challenge on Lisa De Vanna.
After the break, the Jets came out firing and looked the more likely of the two sides – despite being a player down.
Arin Gilliland was first on the scoresheet for the Jets – courtesy of a well-placed corner kick from Gema Simon – soaring at the back post to beat Bledsoe from close range.
Now within arms reach of the Sky Blues the Jets fought gallantly, as the two sides battled it out in the midfield with van Egmond and Huster both integral in the second half resurgence.
It was a tense final 30 minutes that had the crowd at Leichhardt Oval on the edge of their seat, as both teams had their share of chances.
But it would be super-sub, Tara Andrews who netted an injury time equaliser to send the Jets’ travelling support into raptures and the match into extra time.
After a short break both teams settled in for the 30 minutes of extra time, as the chances came thick and fast with Katie Stengel and Cortnee Vine causing major headaches for the Sky Blue defence.
Britt Eckerstrom put in another stirring performance, making a number of crucial saves at the death to give the Jets every chance of securing the most unlikely of victories.
The Sky Blues returned to the lead through Lisa De Vanna just before the first break in extra time and held on until the final whistle to secure a spot in the Grand Final.
It was a memorable finish to a memorable season for Craig Deans’ chargers, who fought until the very end.
6' | 0 - 0 | CHANCE! Wheeler squares up to van Egmond and the top of the area and her strike JUST sails over the crossbar #WLeague #SYDvNEW
9' | 0 - 1 | Caitlin Foord gets the Sky Blues off the mark #WLeague #SYDvNEW
15' | 0 - 1 | van Egmond fires a looong ball in from the wide free-kick which almost beats Bledsoe in the air, forcing the Sky Blue custodian to tip the ball over the crossbar! #WLeague #SYDvNEW
31' | 0 - 1 | SAVE! Eckerstrom handles a strong strike from Ledbrook #WLeague #SYDvNEW
35' | 0 - 2 | Ledbrook doubles Sydney’s lead #WLeague #SYDvNEW
37' | 0 – 2 | CHANCE! Stengel with a strike from the top of the area, but she just can’t keep it down as it sails over the crossbar #WLeague #SYDvNEW
45'+1’ | 0 - 2 | Hannah Brewer has been shown red for a challenge on De Vanna #WLeague #SYDvNEW
52' | 1 - 2 | GOAL! Gilliland! #WLeague #SYDvNEW
52' | 1 - 2 | Gema Simon floats a beautiful corner kick to the back-post as Gilliland times her jump to perfection, soaring above the pack and heading past Bledsoe at close range #WLeague #SYDvNEW
65' | 1 - 2 | Close call there as the ball pin-balled around the Sky Blues penalty area, Huster almost got a shot away, as did Gilliland but they were blocked by the Sydney defence #WLeague #SYDvNEW
90'+1 | 2 - 2 | GOAL! Tara Andrews! #WLeague #SYDvNEW
90+1’ | 2 - 2 | After Andrews played the initial ball to release Gilliland she pushes forward to combine with Stengel, pouncing on a defensive mistake from the Sky Blues to find the equaliser! #WLeague #SYDvNEW
90’+5’ | 2 - 2 | We’re going to extra time! #WLeague #SYDvNEW
ET 7' | 2 - 2 | CHANCE! Stengel! She holds the ball up at the top of the area, turns and strikes – forcing Bledsoe into a diving save #WLeague #SYDvNEW
ET 8' | 2 - 3 | Sydney go in front through Lisa De Vanna #WLeague #SYDvNEW
ET 13' | 2 - 3 | Vine looks to strike from long range, but her shot sails wide #WLeague #SYDvNEW
ET 14' | 2 - 3 | SAVE! Brave diving effort from Eckerstrom there as de Vanna looked to square it up for Siemsen in the area #WLeague #SYDvNEW
ET 21' | 2 - 3 | SO CLOSE! A scramble in the box from a corner kick causes problems for the Sky Blues who just manage to clear the danger #WLeague #SYDvNEW
ET 25' | 2 - 3 | Eckerstrom! Keeps us within arms reach with a one-on-one save as De Vanna charged on goal #WLeague #SYDvNEW
ET 26' | 2 - 3 | Eckerstrom again! Fantastic effort again as Sydney looked to take advantage on the break #WLeague #SYDvNEW
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Newcastle Jets: 2.Hannah BREWER, 3.Natasha PRIOR, 5.Arin GILLILAND, 6.Cassidy DAVIS, 7.Gema SIMON, 9.Katie STENGEL, 10.Emily VAN EGMOND, 17.Jenna KINGSLEY, 18.Clare WHEELER, 23.Tori HUSTER, 28.Britt ECKERSTROM (gk)
Subs: 8.Sophie NENADOVIC, 11.Cortnee VINE, 12.Tara ANDREWS, 16.Nikola ORGILL, 20.Claire COEHLO (gk)
Subs Not Used: 8.Sophie NENADOVIC, 20.Claire COEHLO (gk)
Yellow cards: 3.Natasha PRIOR (35’), 18.Clare WHEELER (61’)
Red cards: 2.Hannah BREWER (45’+2’)
Goals: 5.Arin GILLILAND (53’), 12.Tara ANDREWS (90’+2’)
Sydney FC: 2.Teresa POLIAS (c), 4.Elizabeth RALSTON, 6.Chloe LOGARZO, 9.Caitlin FOORD, 10.Kylie LEDBROOK, 11.Lisa DE VANNA, 13.Georgia YEOMAN-DALE, 15.Caitlin COOPER, 16.Emily SONNETT, 20.Princess IBINI, 29.Aubrey BLEDSOE (gk)
Subs: 1.Sham KHAMIS (gk), 3.Remy SIEMSEN, 7.Rachael SOUTAR, 19.Leena KHAMIS, 21.Julia VIGNES
Subs Not Used: 1.Sham KHAMIS (gk), 7.Rachael SOUTAR
Yellow cards: 2.Teresa POLIAS (21’), 19.Leena KHAMIS (75’)
Red cards: 10.Kylie LEDBROOK (88’)
Goals: 9.Caitlin FOORD (9’), 10.Kylie LEDBROOK (35’), 11.Lisa DE VANNA (98’)