Newcastle Jets boss Ash Wilson believes her squad has what it takes to repeat their heroics from the first round of the W-League, as she continues to settle into her interim role with the team following Craig Deans temporary move to the A-League.
“It’s a quality first game, so it’ll be memorable,” Wilson said with a laugh, when asked how she felt about playing undefeated City in her first match at the helm. “They’re a quality side, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Wilson also admitted that the next challenge for the squad was finding their footing before the last chances to make finals for the season slips out of their grasp.
“We can’t avoid the fact that we’re in a difficult position of sitting near the bottom of the table with only four points,” she said.
“Finals is a very real possibility for us still, but we have to win games, and get results, and make sure that this weekend is the first one where we’re bagging points so that we can stay in contention. The girls have a lot of belief still.”
The Jets interim coach also pointed to their season opener against the Melbourne titans, where they claimed a point in a heroic 1–1 draw at No.2 Sportsground against the star-studded squad. Newcastle are still the only side to manage that feat.
“We are the only team to have taken points off them this season, so hopefully the girls get a lot of confidence in themselves based on that,” she said.
“Every game we’ve lost by one goal, we’ve been in games, and maybe we haven’t played those games to our full potential, so I think we can still do better. I’m excited by that, there’s a good chance we can find that before the season ends.”
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Confidence will play a role, Wilson explained, but tactics will be key too. City has forged a midfield-overload so far this season, playing around stars like Emily van Egmond, and the Jets know that’s the battle they have to win to score points.
“They’re playing a 3-5-2 formation and teams are finding it difficult to break them down, so for us, it’s about being organised when we don’t have the ball, and trying to exploit some of their opportunities too,” she said. “We’ve been creating chances, but that final pass hasn’t been there, so we have to be better there as well.”
Wilson’s first squad looks largely similar to the rest of the season, and sees Gema Simon take the captain’s armband for the journey south.
Leading stars like Hannah Brewer, Cassidy Davis, Tara Andrews, and Libby Copus-Brown have all also been included in the weekend’s roster. The Jets have also been handed a boost in the return of Sophie Nenadovic.
Annabel Martin still remains out, however, and is still on the path back from her knee injury. She is expected to be sidelined for at least another fortnight.
Newcastle Jets weekend squad: 2.Hannah BREWER, 6.Cassidy DAVIS, 7.Gema SIMON, 8.Sophie NENADOVIC, 9.Tara ANDREWS, 10.Libby COPUS-BROWN, 11.Pana PETRATOS, 12.Tessa TAMPLIN, 13.Lauren ALLAN, 14.Renee POUNTNEY, 17.Jenna KINGSLEY, 18.Clare WHEELER, 19.Nicki FLANNERY, 20.Claire COELHO (gk), 25.Teigan COLLISTER, 30.Nicole SIMONSEN (gk), 31.Paige KINGSTON-HOGG.