Birthday girl Jenkins off the mark as Victory floor Jets
Darian Jenkins scored her first Westfield W-League goal on her 25th birthday as Melbourne Victory edged ahead in the chase for fourth place with a 2-1 win against Newcastle Jets.
Captain Natasha Dowie gave the Premiers an ideal start when she netted a 10th-minute header to notch her second goal of the campaign and fourth in six games against the Jets.
American winger Jenkins turned from provider to scorer on 25 minutes, scrambling in her first competition goal in seven matches after joining from Seattle-based Reign FC in the off-season.
Gema Simon struck back on 61 minutes against her former side, where she played 11 games during the 2014/15 season, and the visitors put Victory under pressure in first game of Sunday's double header, before a Hyundai A-League clash involving the same clubs.
Jeff Hopkins' side held out in the closing stages to seal their first three points of the 2019/20 season on home turf, and only their fourth win in their last 16 matches at AAMI Park, to boost their Westfield W-League Finals Series bid.
Brisbane and Canberra had forced their way in front of the Premiers in the race for a top four place, but with Roar losing to Melbourne City and Canberra’s match with Sydney FC postponed due to poor air quality in the ACT, Victory rise from sixth to fourth in the ladder following the win.
Dowie shows poacher’s instincts with clinical finish
After a cagey opening 10 minutes, Lia Privitelli carved open the Jets defence with a terrific, cross-field pass to her opposite wing-back Darian Jenkins.
The American winger’s cross was flicked on by Rosie Sutton at the near post and powered in by Victory skipper Natasha Dowie, who was lurking at the far.
The English striker headed the ball across goal, beating goalkeeper Claire Coelho, and finding the bottom corner of the Newcastle net.
Jenkins gets birthday present with tap in
The Jets had soaked up some pressure but the visitors could not deal with Victory’s second ball delivered back in following Amy Jackson’s set-piece delivery.
Westfield Matilda Jenna McCormick was first to the corner before Emily Menges swung it back over and Sutton’s header beat Coelho but the ball bounced off the post.
Jenkins was quickest to the loose ball and added the simplest of finishes on the goal-line to celebrate her 24th birthday in style.
Dumont stays switched on
Casey Dumont was forced into action to save Gema Simon’s 35-minute header from Nikki Flannery’s cross in a rare Newcastle attack.
Moments later, the home side countered and Haley Hanson's diving header from Jenkins’ whipped ball was stopped by a diving Coelho.
Despite being 2-0 up, Victory did not let up after the interval and Dowie lashed a strike off target on 49 minutes and an overlapping Privitelli fired an effort at Coelho from a tight angle two minutes later.
Simon punishes her former club
They were searching for a lifeline and the Gema Simon made her moment count when she was played clean through on the Victory goal.
Tara Andrews was probing the Victory defence and her cross-field pass took a heavy deflection off a back-tracking Sutton to leave Simon with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Simon kept her composure to slide the ball inside of Coelho’s near post and earn Newcastle a foothold back in the match.
Substitute Allan spurns glorious opportunity to equalise
Jets keeper Coelho kept her side in the hunt with an outstanding one-handed save to repel McCormick’s bullet 12-yard header from Jackson’s corner on 68 minutes.
Lauren Allan had a golden chance to level the scores on 79 minutes with a free back-post header but she could not convert fellow substitute Teigan Collister's left-footed centre from close range.
The match opened up in the final stages with Craig Deans' side throwing some caution to the wind but it was not to be for the visitors, who face bottom club Adelaide next week, while Victory are on a bye.
Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United
Friday, 10 January 2020
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick off: 5.00pm AEDT