Georgina Worth starred as the Jets kept their first clean sheet of the competition in their win against Adelaide (Image: Newcastle Jets)

The Jets produced a defensive masterclass to upset Adelaide United 2-0 in front of a packed No. 2 Sportsground in Newcastle on New Year’s Eve. Local hero Lauren Allan netted herself a second-half brace as she thrived in the Jets’ counterattacking style.

The home side lost American Sarah Griffith just before kick-off due to an injury she picked up late in the week, leaving them without both of their star attackers as Murphy Agnew also missed with her back problem from last weekend.

It proved a minor issue for the Jets as their front three of Adriana Konjarski, Tara Andrews and Lauren Allen have played together at NPL level for years at Warner’s Bay. Their synergy was on full display as they effortlessly cut through Adelaide’s defence.

The first half was an Adelaide onslaught as the Reds had seven shots but were unable to beat Georgina Worth who had her best game for Newcastle. Worth provided a huge presence between the sticks and pulled off some key saves to keep the teams level at the break.

It was Newcastle’s first clean sheet of the season, having conceded two or more goals in every previous game this season. Talking to The Inner Sanctum post-game, Worth said this performance was a long time coming.

“We’ve been working really hard on tidying up our defence this season,” Worth said.

“Those two heavy losses in Melbourne really hurt everyone, so it’s incredible to get some reward for our effort.

“It’s the brand of defence we want to play and hopefully this is the first of many [clean sheets].

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It was Worth’s sixth appearance for the Jets after moving down from Brisbane in the off-season. It’s been a building performance after showing glimpses in recent weeks, she’ll be hoping it’s a season-shifting performance as the team looks towards Sydney FC to kick off 2023.

Three of Newcastle’s back four on Saturday were new to the club, so it’s been no surprise they’ve had struggles defensively. Worth believes they’re starting to understand each other and this is just the start of how they want to play.

“I think I’ve been building to a performance like this over the last few games,” she said.

“I’m growing in confidence and starting to understand the defenders a bit better which has been a challenge. I think the clean sheet just shows the league what we’re capable of.

“We’ve spent so much time working on this cohesion and knowing how everyone plays so we’re able to give cover.

“I think to be fair to us, a lot of the goals so far have just been individual mistakes and not anything tactically. We’ve had complete faith in our system and this just shows we were right.”

Coach Ash Wilson was elated with the result post-game, saying to have that kind of result at home is exactly what the team needed. She also agreed that Worth was a key factor in why they won that game, as well as the team’s resilience.

“We’ve always known the type of football we can play, its been about building that performance for the full 90 minutes,” Wilson said.

“Especially at home, we love our home fans. Even Cass [Davis] said before the kick-off that our fans were on today, they’re a big reason we managed this result.

“It’s always good to score two goals, especially when we’ve got such good attacking options out, but I’m really impressed with how solid we were defensively.

“[Georgina] was outstanding today, she swept well and I thought she dealt with set pieces outstandingly. Her communication was world class and we really benefited from her distribution and ball-striking. She had a few huge moments today where I thought she stopped certain goals, she was definitely a huge part of this win.”

Things weren’t as glamorous at the other end of the pitch, Adelaide goalkeeper Annalee Grove was barely needed in the first half, and made some key saves early in the second before Allan fired her first to Grove’s top right.

She was able to get hands to it but couldn’t push it wide as it rolled into the bottom corner for the Jets first. She was tested again in the 85th minute and made a brilliant save to deny Jets Skipper Cass Davis from long range.

Just minutes later, Allan was once again in behind following a contentious non-call of offside. Using the extra metres to her advantage, she drew Glover out and guided the ball expertly to the keeper’s right into the bottom corner to ice the game.

The Jets will kick off the New Year at home against competition heavyweights Sydney FC next Saturday, before rounding out January against Canberra and the Wanderers. While Adelaide will look to bounce back when they host Canberra at home next week before backing up to face Melbourne City off a four-day break.

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