After a draw and a loss to start the Jets’ 2019/20 W-League season, homegrown sharpshooter Tara Andrews knows Newcastle need a result when they welcome Canberra to McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday evening.
Victory against United could fire them as high as third, and so the 25-year-old is calling on the Jets faithful, who will be turning out to watch the women play their double-header match ahead of the A-League fixture, to make it a “special” atmosphere.
In the opening round of the competition, the boisterous vocal support of the fans helped Newcastle battle to a tight 1-1 draw against a star-studded Melbourne City. Last week, an away game at Bankwest Stadium delivered a loss.
And so, the return to the Hunter, to McDonald Jones Stadium, and to the barracking fans covered in red, blue, and gold, will play another key part for the team as they clash with their southern opposition at 4.30pm on Saturday.
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“I think, playing at home helps,” Andrews explained to media ahead of the third-round match. “The vibe at No.2 Sportsground is so much better, we have a really good support that come along and cheer us on which spurs us on.”
McDonald Jones Stadium also plays a big role in the boost, Andrews said, and added that playing in front of the men always meant that more exposure and more fans were spiced in to give a little extra motivator for the side.
“It’ll be good to be back at McDonald Jones Stadium this weekend, and it’s so much better playing at home with our fans, where we know the fields and things, then playing away games,” she said.
“Doubleheaders give us more exposure, all the girls enjoy being able to get bigger crowds to games and have more people come and watch us. That spurs us on in the game, and pushes us on to do better.
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“Playing in front of bigger crowds is pretty special for us. It’s a great feeling to play at home, I’m proud to be a Newcastle player and being able to play at the stadium in front of my home crowd is amazing.”
Newcastle also boasts a strong head-to-head record over United over the past two seasons, remaining undefeated against the green-machine in their past two meetings. Tara wants to keep that streak going with an all-important win.
“We’re pretty disappointed with the weekend, we didn’t play as well as we can… we’re all looking to the Canberra game now this weekend, we know what we have to do with keeping the ball better and that’s what we’ll work on,” she said.
“We’ll come out firing this weekend. We know we didn’t do as well as we could have last week, so we’re all ready to give it our best this weekend.
“Canberra is a good team, they’re going to be tough but we’re ready to bring it to them. All around the park, they’ve got a good couple of internationals and obviously Heather Garriock is a pretty good coach who knows how to win.”
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For the third week in a row, the Jets will also be playing opposite a familiar face. This time, it’s former international recruit Katie Stengel, who played 18 games for Newcastle in the 2017/2018 season.
“A couple of the girls obviously know how she plays, so hopefully we can take care of her a bit, but she’s a good player, strong on the ball, and she’s got a good shot, so she’ll be one to contain,” Andrews said.
No matter who they’re facing, whether it be Canberra, Stengel, or any W-League rival, Andrews said she and the whole squad know that with just one point in their first two fixtures, they need to chalk more on the board.
“Only getting one point in the first round, and then losing, we need to get points out of this game,” the Jets striker said. “It’s only two games, but there’s 12 in the season, so we have to get points in every game we play.”
Tickets for Saturday’s doubleheader at McDonald Jones Stadium on sale here.