Palmer's strike downs Jets on Kellond-Knight's Roar return
Super sub Hollie Palmer struck her first Westfield W-League goal as Brisbane Roar finally broke down Newcastle Jets to win 2-1 and climb into the top four.
Elise Kellond-Knight made a much-anticipated return to Brisbane following four years away, but the 109-cap Westfield Matilda was restricted to a 15-minute cameo while fellow substitute Palmer stole the headlines after the Roar had been frustrated for long periods of this Round 7 clash.
Newcastle keeper Claire Coelho had produced heroics to keep Brisbane out as the Roar laid siege to the Jets goal in the first half but visiting midfielder Tara Andrews’ hit the hosts with a smash and grab counter on 22 minutes.
Jake Goodship’s side finally drew level on 41 minutes when skipper Clare Polkinghorne headed in her first goal in almost two years, and the Roar’s 19th attempt of the half, after they were twice denied in quick succession at Lions FC Stadium.
The Coelho show continued after the interval, as Newcastle’s keeper shook off a knock to her leg to continue to frustrate the home side, until Carson Pickett’s effort cannoned back off the crossbar and Palmer pounced on 69 minutes to complete the turnaround and extend Brisbane's unbeaten run to four matches.
Canberra United’s 4-0 defeat to ladder-leaders Western Sydney Wanderers on Boxing Day opened the door to the Finals Series places and Roar took advantage to leap to fourth, while Newcastle remain in seventh place on one win from six matches.
The Jets were thankful to Coelho from the off as the 23-year-old dived full-length to parry Hayley Raso’s drilled effort wide after two minutes and tipped Carson Picket’s drive from the edge of the box over a couple of minutes later.
The Roar continued to pour forward as Raso curled another effort at Coelho and Tameka Yallop fired into the side-netting, before Natalie Tathem and Katrina Gorry made the Jets shot-stopper stretch to make saves before the sucker punch arrived.
Gema Simon’s free-kick was launched towards the Brisbane goal on 22 minutes and, after a headed one-two with Nikki Flannery, Andrews kept her composure to slam a half volley past a flat-flooted Mackenzie Arnold and strike her fourth goal of the season against the run of play.
The goal rocked the Roar, as Pickett drilled a shot into the side netting and Coelho racked up seven saved inside half an hour with Raso, again, and Polkinghorne denied, while Flannery almost caught Arnold off her line as the Jets attack showed a rare sign of life.
It seemed like the Roar's luck was out when Coelho clawed Raso's close-range effort away from goal and Indiah-Paige Riley's header was cleared off the line by Simon moments later, but Isobel Dalton floated the ball back across and Polkinghorne's looping header left Coelho stranded to level at 1-1.
Brisbane picked up where they left off after the interval as Yallop saw her strike pushed away, with the rebound narrowly evading Raso, and Coelho put her body on the line to stop Yallop after Tathem played the Roar’s all-time top goalscorer clean through on goal.
With the Jets pinned back in their own half, Raso and Tathem were next to work Coelho as the one-way traffic continued. Palmer had been introduced on 52 minutes and the 18-year-old seized her moment 17 minutes later after Pickett's strike off the crossbar left Coelho stranded.
Chasing the game in the last 20 minutes, Andrews looping shot was saved by Arnold before the Jets attacker's header floated over. Roar keeper Arnold gathered at Jenna Kingsley's feet under pressure as time ticked down, before Yallop and Gorry spurned chances to put the game to bed. Coelho made one last stunning save at the death, touching Pickett's free-kick on to the post.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne City
Thursday, 2 January 2020
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT
Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets
Sunday, 5 January 2020
Kick off: 4.00pm AEDT