The Newcastle Jets were felled 1-0 by a converted penalty from Matildas star Amy Harrison just ahead of the hour mark at Bankwest Stadium on Friday evening, after fighting through storms and game-delays to reach the finish line.
Western Sydney held most of the supremacy of the match in terms of field position and possession, but the Jets held firm in their defensive efforts for the first 28 minutes until lightning strikes delayed the first half.
Returning to play as the wet weather slowed down, and the lightning let up, Newcastle were able to roll back into their rhythm, while the Wanderers clicked back into their attacking gear at the other end of the park.
Despite a handful of chances for the hosts, Craig Deans’ outfit was able to keep the scoresheet locked at 0-0 at the end of the first half, helped on by a goal from Ella Mastrantonio being ruled offside by the officials.
In the end, the first half lasted a near 80 minutes, including the 30-minute delay, and the Jets seemed to slow as they stepped out for the game’s second stanza.
Tragedy struck for Newcastle’s brave defence at the hour mark, when a contentious handball from Clare Wheeler was deemed to have struck her off a pass from Lydia Williams, which the Jets co-captain was adamant had missed her hand.
Wheeler even pointed to Bankwest Stadium’s towering replay screen, showing the ball hitting her midriff, but match official Kelly Jones, and assistant referee Sarah Ho, insisted on the penalty. Harrison converted soon after.
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Newcastle pushed for an equaliser – one that would have been reminiscent of Teigan Collister’s long-range leveller last week at No.2 Sportsground – but couldn’t find an opening against a sea of red and black, and finished scoreless.
Despite the loss, the Jets defensive efforts were put on display against another top-class side, and nearly succeeded. Without the contentious penalty call that gave the Wanderers a cagey 1-0 victory, Newcastle may have scraped another draw.
It was certainly a gargantuan effort to keep the scoreline to just 1-0. Before the weather delay, the Wanderers had already recorded nine shots against Claire Coelho between the sticks. When the game ended, Western Sydney had fired off 29.
After being handed their first defeat of the season, Newcastle will return to the Hunter for another home game, this time as part of a double-header alongside the men’s A-League clash later that evening.
The match, which will see the ladies play an undefeated Canberra United in Round 3, will be hosted at McDonald Jones Stadium from 4.30pm.