24/05/2024

Newcastle and Canberra split the points in a 3-3 thriller. (Photo: Newcastle Jets/Twitter)

A stunning scoring explosion completely changed the tense affair between Newcastle and Canberra in an important match for both sides.

After a tense opening half, a three-minute scoring surge broke the game between Newcastle and Canberra right open.

In a sweaty afternoon, both sides made their intent clear with direct and aggressive play both with and without possession.

This came to a head in the 60th minute after Canberra’s Ash Sykes equalised to give herself a brace, and draw the game to 2-2.

After Sophie Harding’s brilliant dash to give the Jets their second in the 51st minute, they seemed to take the equaliser personally.

Both sides began to act fast with every possession, playing pacey counterattacking football.

Once Sykes equalised, this saw Allira Toby put Canberra in the lead off Margot Robinne’s corner, followed by impact substitute Sunny Franco banging home another.

The score read 3-3 in the 63rd minute, where it finished for the game.

“We’ve been really focusing on [scoring], and it was good to see Ash get on the scoresheet twice,” Canberra coach Vicki Linton said.

“Hayley Taylor-Young set up that first goal by battling and getting forward all the way from the fullback position, that was really good.”

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The rise of Taylor-Young since moving to fullback has been one of the best stories of Canberra’s winless season. With a defensive group that’s been largely sporadic in its availability, she’s earned the praise of her coach.

But that defensive group was constantly placed under pressure by an aggressive Newcastle unit, with Ally Haran and Emma Ilijoski harassed by Sophie Harding and Jemma House every time they got near it.

Coach Ash Wilson seemed to be looking to take advantage of the inexperienced group, turning that aggression into regained possession in the Jets’ front third multiple times.

“Consistency’s a word that comes to mind… it was a really good start, a strong start,” the coach said.

“We started the second half well to get our goal and get 2-1 up, I thought at that point we had decent control.

“The plan was to put them under a bit of pressure in certain areas. I thought we were able to do that, but once they got their goal momentum shifted. We went away from doing things that made us successful.

“We were missing pressing opportunities or we weren’t making tackles in areas where we have directed them to play. That was putting pressure on our midfield.”

The Jets would come away feeling as though they let a number of goals through by their own deficiencies.

Taylor-Young’s assist broke the defence with ease, letting Sykes get the barest of touches on it, while they had multiple opportunities to catch Canberra keeper Keeley Richards off her line.

Wilson used her impact players effectively off the bench however, with Sunny Franco scoring within minutes of taking to the pitch.

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On a five-unbeaten game run and battling to enter the top four with a game against form side Adelaide ahead, every point will be important.

“A five win-streak would probably be a lot nicer,” Wilson said.

“Three of them have been draws. You look at a couple of those draws, and particularly finishing the Perth game we had a few chances. We were winning against the Wanderers in the 89th minute.

“Even today to an extent, apart from the patch in the first half where Canberra was quite dominant… we gave them two moments.

“I look at last year, and games like this one we probably would have lost. It’s good that we’re able to show resilience and finish games strongly and keep ourselves collecting points.”

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