A gut-wrenching defeat for the Wellington Phoenix in round four of the Liberty A-League women’s competition.
The Phoenix have been beaten 1-0 by the Newcastle Jets at a wet Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, after holding the Jets scoreless for the first 81 minutes.
It was a vastly improved showing from their last meeting with Newcastle just 17 days ago, which ended in a 5-1 defeat, and they looked on track to secure a hard-earned point until Jets substitute Jemma House bundled home the only goal of the game in the 82nd minute.
Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis had mixed emotions post-match.
“That game was like chalk and cheese for us. We were competitive in this game. We were struggling to even be competitive the last time we played them,” Lewis told media after the game.
“It’s one of those things where I’m stoked of the turnaround between games and the performances, and the girls really stepped up.
“But conceding in the late stages of the game is always a hard one to swallow, especially when I think we had moments to nick it.”
Wellington had a number of shots on target without really testing Georgia Boric in the Newcastle goal, but Lewis believes the Phoenix should have been awarded a penalty in the 63rd minute when Chloe Knott went to ground in the box.
“From where I was standing it looked like there was a lot in the back and the ankles were clipped.
“Chloe was trying to hold her ground and she couldn’t and she kind of got pushed through.
“But I’d have to look back at the footage.”
Gemma Lewis named an unchanged starting XI to face the Jets, with the only change coming on the bench where the fit-again Grace Jale replaced Jordan Jasnos
The Phoenix showed their intent from kick-off, pressuring Newcastle and denying them any time on the ball.
They managed to win possession inside the Jets’ defensive third a number of times and it led to their first opportunity in the 14th minute. Chloe Knott found some space on the edge of the area and shot from distance, but straight at Boric in the Newcastle goal.
Kelli Brown and Grace Wisnewski also had shots on target in the first 45 minutes as the Phoenix gave as good as they got.
Lily Alfeld was just as busy as Boric, but the Wellington goal was never truly threatened before halftime.
That changed as soon as the second-half kicked off with Alfeld twice called into action in the first five minutes.
But the Phoenix withstood the early barrage and soon started created their own opportunities.
Right back Zoe McMeeken got on the end of a perfectly weighted through ball from Alyssa Whinham in the 63rd minute but wasn’t able to beat Boric. The ball then fell to the feet of Knott however her claim for a penalty was waved away by the referee.
Jale had potentially the best chance of the match for the Phoenix 10 minutes later when she scuffed her shot from little over six yards out from goal.
Matildas midfielder Emily van Egmond fired a warning shot against Alfeld’s goal in the 81st minute and just moments later the Wellington captain was called upon to tip a long-range shot onto the bar. Unfortunately for Alfeld and the Phoenix the ball fell to House, who pounced to poke the ball over the line.
Wellington continued to throw bodies forward in search of an equaliser but were unable to create another clear-cut opportunity.
While the team is gutted Gemma Lewis says they have to quickly turn their attentions to Thursday evening’s match against Sydney FC at WIN Stadium in Wollongon.
“As much as this hurts we can’t sit here and dwell on it and like mourn it because actually we need to take the positives, take the learnings and move on.
“This is the A-League, we’re in a season, we have to carry on and we have to push forward.”
Wellington Phoenix: 1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (c), 2. Saskia VOSPER, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Isabel GOMEZ (13. Te Reremoana WALKER – 52nd), 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 11. Kelli BROWN (17. Talitha KRAMER – 52nd), 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN (18. Annabel MARTIN – 88th), 20. Alyssa WHINHAM (10. Grace JALE – 64th)
Unused substitutes: 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk)
Newcastle Jets: 36. Georgia BORIC (gk), 2. Hannah BREWER, 5. Tiana JABER, 6. Cassidy DAVIS (c), 8. Elizabeth EDDY, 9. Tara ANDREWS (3. Jemma HOUSE – 73rd), 10. Emily VAN EGMOND, 14. Lucy JOHNSON (12. Kirsty FENTON – 67th), 15. Sophie HARDING (16. Sunny FRANCO – 85th), 17. Marie DOLVIK (19. Ashlee BRODIGAN – 85th), 18. Taren KING
Unused substitutes: 20. Claire COELHO (gk)
3. Jemma HOUSE (Newcastle Jets) – 82nd
6. Isabel GOMEZ (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 28th
2. Hannah BREWER (Newcastle Jets) – yellow – 75th
16. Sunny FRANCO (Newcastle Jets) – yellow – 89th
7. Chloe KNOTT (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 90th