Handing debuts to rising stars against proper W-League talent was the name of the game for Craig Deans as his Newcastle Jets side slogged through a rainy fixture against defending champions Sydney in Wagga Wagga last weekend.
Lauren Allan, Nicki Flannery, Nicole Simonsen, and Annabel Martin all ran out for the first time in the blue and red of Newcastle as the Hunter side tumbled to a 2-1 loss at the hands of a Sky Blue squad led by Mackenzie Hawkesby.
Hawkesby slotted home two in the first half as the skies opened, including a dangerous cross in the 37th minute that Claire Coelho just couldn’t tip out in time to keep the Jets to just a one-goal deficit.
Libby Copus-Brown’s cross just ahead of the half-time break made sure Newcastle went into the sheds trailing by just one, as a glut of ladies in red and blue poked home the chance in front of Sydney’s goalmouth.
“All in all, it wasn’t too bad,” Deans assessed after the one-goal loss.
“[Sydney] has still got to bring in four international players I would imagine on top of their starting team, so that will obviously make them stronger,” he told the Herald. “But we weren’t outclassed. We had our own moments of pressure. I wasn’t too unhappy.”
Matildas star Gema Simon didn’t play in the preseason test, with New Lambton recruit Allan slotting into the defensive role to fill the void. Allan scored 33 goals from the wing as she helped guide New Lambton to their first premiership in the Premier League.
Sophie Nenadovic, Renee Poutney (injuries) and Jets Academy star Tessa Tamplin (international duties) were all missing from the Wagga hit-out. Youngsters Kirsty Fenton, Molly Arens, and Kiamie Lathan were given minutes in their stead.
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Deans also pointed to one of the elements of his 2019-20 roster that he would be bringing to bear as the Jets gun for their first postseason finish since 2017-18.
“We’ve got some genuine speed with Teigan [Collister] and Lauren, and then Nicki Flannery and Jenna Kingsley upfront with Tara [Andrews],” he explained.
“So we had four really quick players and we did cause them some problems, so that was pleasing and it’s certainly something we’ll get some joy out of this season.”
Newcastle now prepares for their second preseason game this weekend, which sources say will be held at McDonald Jones Stadium as part of a double-header with the men’s squad as they face Perth Glory at 5pm in the A-League’s fifth round.