Lucy Johnson was recruited to the Jets from NPL Victoria ahead of the 2021/22 season as depth behind a strong midfield. This season she’s started every game and become a key member of Ash Wilson’s squad.
The 23-year-old midfielder found herself in and out of the starting team last season, sitting behind a star-studded midfield that featured Emily Van Egmond, Cass Davis and Elizabeth Eddy. She was often used as a substitute, making 13 appearances for the season.
“I feel like I’m building into this season really well,” Johnson told the media on Tuesday.
“I’m understanding the players around me a lot better than what I was last year, and they seem to be understanding me too.
“I’m looking forward to the rest of the season to see what we can do.”
The Jets controlled the game against Sydney after a chaotic opening where they went 3-0 down just six minutes after the first whistle. Newcastle managed to compose themselves and bring the game back to 3-2 just after halftime.
It was the resilient performance that head coach Ash Wilson had been begging for, and Johnson believes it’s all because of the year-on-year improvements. She says she doesn’t read into the negatives but chooses to focus on the good in their performances.
“I don’t get too worried about the teams coming up,” she said.
“I like to look at the positives that come out of our previous performances as well as the negatives.
“Our goals scored is such a good thing or us to look at, we’re right up the top in terms of how much we’re actually scoring.
“There’s a lot of improvement happening. Last year was just tough all over the park in general, whereas this year there’s a lot of things going our way and it feels like we’re creating lots of opportunities for ourselves.”
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She proved her quality during Saturday’s loss to Sydney, finding Lauren Allen with a long ball that eventually led to the Jets’ first goal. Speaking after the game, Wilson was thrilled to talk about Johnson’s development during her second season in the league.
“She’s improved dramatically from last year,” Wilson said.
“You have to remember, she’s young. We picked her up from NPL Victoria and last season was her first experience in the A-League. We always saw the quality there, but it’s raw. She’s new, and she was new in this environment last year as well.
“There’s a lot to worry about apart from talent and technical ability when you come into the league, there are other pressures and much higher training loads. It’s all new and you have to get accustomed to it. “
Johnson is enjoying a purple patch of form, having only been substituted once in her last three games- in the 87th minute of their win over Adelaide. She’s been a powerhouse in the Jets’ engine room, controlling the midfield and testing the opposition defence with piercing through balls.
She starred in the Jets’ upset win over Adelaide a fortnight ago, registering 80 per cent pass accuracy on 60 touches. She was also a threat on both ends of the pitch, with two blocked shots to go along with three chances created.
Wilson has noticed the midfielder’s recent run of good form, and says it’s impossible to leave her name off the starting sheet.
“This year she’s much more confident with her abilities, she’s more familiar with the environment and the expectations on her.
She’s really up to scratch with how she’s been training, and over the last few weeks we spoke a lot about keeping things simple.
“She has great vision and technical quality, her work rate has been excellent. She’s stepped up over the last few weeks into her role, she wants to make the position hers, and at the moment it is.”
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