Ash Wilson’s Newcastle Jets are fresh off the back of an upset victory over Adelaide United and are staring down the barrel of a match-up with second-placed Sydney FC. Another win for Newcastle would send shockwaves through the competition and bring them back within reach of the top four.
Newcastle will most likely be missing injured Americans Murphy Agnew and Sarah Griffith from the starting side once again, however, the latter may return to the bench. Wilson will be hoping her girls can pull off another gritty performance to prove their capabilities to the league.
The recent injury worries for Newcastle have seemingly overshadowed the absence of star fullback Tessa Tamplin, who has missed the last month of games. Tamplin completed full training this week and will be expected to return to the squad and strengthen a backline that was fired on all cylinders last week.
Tamplin was a key player during their first three games, her ability to run and deliver the ball was sorely missed. A more than capable defender, she’ll be welcomed into the starting side and have an instant impact against Sydney.
A key focus for Wilson is making sure her side can capture their intensity and desperation from last week’s win and replicate that against another strong attacking side. She doesn’t believe in dwelling on the game, but it’s the attitude that matters.
“The attitude, the effort and the mentality that was carried into the Adelaide game, it needs to continue,” Wilson told the press on Thursday.
“We highlighted a lot of things that were positive from the weekend. One of our big things is efforts, because I think a number of the efforts our players did both with and without the ball were exactly what we spoke about.
“It was exactly what we needed to do against a team like Adelaide who are pretty relentless and well-organised. So for us, the big message is that was a benchmark, it’s something we need to keep building on and not letting that standard drop.”
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In a competition when only five points separate first and sixth, and then a further five points to ninth. The competition looks as even as it ever has, with shock results popping up every match week.
Building momentum has been a challenge for the Jets so far this season, inconsistent results can see doubt start to creep into the dressing rooms.
Just two weeks ago, after the loss to Brisbane, captain Cass Davis admitted the morale in the group was starting to be “pretty flat”, conceding that it’s “deflating to be putting in the hard work and not seeing results”.
It’s a contrasting thought to this week when Wilson said there was “a great energy around the girls at training”.
When asked about the importance of momentum, Wilson agreed it’s one of the most important factors in football. The mental edge it gives you over the opposition is an important advantage.
“We saw it a lot in the past when the league was shorter,” she said.
“Momentum, getting results, back-to-back wins, they’re all confidence boosting. They validate the things you’re doing but also it’s important to be banking points.
“I always talk about one game at a time, because I don’t think it’s good to think ahead until you have your next performance.
“But you look at Western United, they’ve had a phenomenal run. They’ve won a lot of games late as well, so you can just see what that does and the belief it gives them.
“Back-to-back wins absolutely have an effect on the mindset, so for us to go out against Sydney and get a result would be pretty important.”
The Jets kept their first clean sheet of the season against Adelaide, it was a complete performance from the back four and a stellar showing from goalkeeper Georgina Worth. Wilson praised the defenders for their “desperation and willingness to keep the ball out of the net”.
They’ll be challenged with a different beast against the Sky Blues, who have scored 13 goals this season- eight more than Adelaide. Sydney striker Madison Haley has four league goals already and is looking in career-best form.
In order to replicate last week’s result, Newcastle will be forced to scramble in defence and ensure Sydney aren’t able to strike on the counter. But the coach is confident they’ve figured out a winning formula in defence.
“I feel like the organisation and communication between the girls on the weekend was excellent,” she said.
“To be honest, there were just a couple moments of pure desperation. I think they showed a lot of courage and desperation when they needed to.
“I feel like they had more organisation than they’ve had in a lot of other previous games. Which is obviously because there’s a few things we’ve worked on and tweaked, which seems to be working.
“But really, I’m just so proud of their communication to firstly get organised and then stay organised throughout and their commitment to moments of desperation.”
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