Newcastle Jets earn thrilling draw in Perth despite being reduced to 10 players
If Newcastle Jets end up in the Westfield W-League 2019 Finals Series, they will look back on this match as a major turning point of their campaign.
Reduced to 10 players for almost 70 minutes of the game, after defender Larissa Crummer was dismissed for bringing down Sam Kerr in the penalty area, the Jets came back from 1-0 down to earn a thoroughly deserved 2-2 draw at the home of the competition's leading scorers.
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Arresting a run of two successive defeats, this well-earned tie moves the Hunter club to within two points of fourth-place Adelaide United.
The result was thanks in no small part to goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom, who pulled off a string of fine second-half saves to keep Perth Glory at bay as Kerr, Rachel Hill and Co pressed increasingly desperately for a winner.
But it was also down to heart, guts and sheer bloody-mindedness.
It was the home side who enjoyed the early pressure in this see-saw match, with good persistence from Sam Kerr earning a second-minute corner from which Isabella Foletta fired over.
Foletta's frustration was to prove short-lived. Two minutes later Jets again failed to clear from a corner and Leticia McKenna was on hand to smash in the loose ball and put the home side ahead.
Despite falling behind, the Jets slowly began to get their game together, with USA stars Taylor Smith and Katie Stengel combining well for the visitors.
It was that pair that carved open the Glory defence on 17 minutes to bring Newcastle level. Smith did well to pick out a diagonal run from her team-mate, with Stengel bursting free to lash home a right-footed shot.
If the Glory were rocked by that blow, they were picking themselves off the canvas 60 seconds later when Smith and Stengel combined again to devastating effect. Midfielder Smith drove powerfully forward before firing a pass into the area which Stengel diverted into the net to notch her third goal in two games and put the Jets 2-1 ahead.
The match was by now being played at breakneck pace, with chances at either end as Perth went hunting for an equaliser, leaving themselves open to counter-attacks.
Matildas star Sam Kerr scored a seven-minute hat-trick the last time these two sides met, and she was on target again after 27 minutes at Dorrien Gardens.
The Glory No.10 burst into the box chasing a pass from Hill, and tangled with Crummer. Referee Lara Lee immediately pointed to the spot, pulling out a straight red card for the unfortunate Jets defender.
Kerr got to her feet and promptly fired in the spot-kick to level the scores and put herself back to the top of the Westfield W-League scoring charts with her seventh of the season.
With the Jets down a player, and pegged back on the scoresheet, it seemed only a matter of time before Perth's free-scoring frontline added to that tally.
But it was not to be, with Eckerstrom pulling off half-a-dozen second-half stops to make sure the Jets travel back to the east coast with a valuable point for their efforts, while Perth Glory remain unbeaten in 2018/19.