Reds defeat Jets to remain in hot pursuit of Finals Series berth
Adelaide United took another step toward reaching a maiden Finals Series with a hard-earned 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets at No. 2 Sportsground on Friday night.
The Reds moved into third on the A-League table with their fifth win of the 2020/21 Westfield W-League campaign - a feat managed just once throughout the club's history - as Adrian Stenta's side continued to impress in what's shaping as a best-ever season for the South Australian side.
Three goals scored within three minutes saw the Reds go ahead 2-1 in the first half, as Chelsie Dawber and Emily Condon struck on either side of an outrageous chip from Jets captain Gema Simon which restored parity in the game for the briefest of moments before Adelaide pulled ahead for the second time on the 15-minute mark.
The visitors held their 2-1 advantage until the half-time break, testing Jets goalkeeper Claire Coelho twice more throughout the opening stanza as Dylan Holmes and Mallory Weber looked to find their range.
An hour of play ticked by with Adelaide's lead intact. A committed challenge from Hannah Brewer floored Maruschka Waldus early in the second half, but after a brief delay the Reds defender was back on her feet and contributing to a solid defensive display from the visitors.
As the game began to open up both sides exchanged shots on goal, with two chances presenting at either end. Waldus saw her headed attempt tipped off the bar by Coelho before Sunny Franco blew the opportunity to draw the hosts level with a missed header from close range.
After the Franco effort went wide the chances dried up at either end as an impressive Reds backline steadied the ship. The full-time whistle blew after five minutes of added time to help the Reds further entrench themselves in the top four with three games to play in the 2020/21 campaign.
The Jets created the first chance of the afternoon when Tara Andrews' shot on the half-volley flashed past Sian Fryer-McLaren's left-hand post, giving the Reds' goalkeeper an early warning after being reinstated to the starting lineup to end a two-game absence.
Adelaide attacker Dawber was making her own return to the fold for the Reds, coming back from illness to give her side the lead 12 minutes into the piece thanks to a strike from distance.
Dawber received the ball from Maria José Rojas outside the box on the right flank, sized up Simon in her path to goal and cut to the left along the edge of the 18-yard box. Finding space past Simon, Dawber dispatched a left-footed strike toward goal; Coelho did her best to parry the ball with a desperate lunging dive to her right but could only push the shot further into the left corner of goal.
But Adelaide's advantage lasted just 50 seconds. Attacking directly from kick-off, the Jets found their way down the left flank with defender Simon bombing forward to contest with Holmes for a loose ball.
Two Reds and two Jets flung themselves toward the ball but Simon emerged with it, darting to the left of the box and down toward the byline. Simon shaped to cross but shot toward goal instead, and the trajectory caught Fryer-McLaren off guard; the ball looped over the Reds' stopper and dropped into the opposite corner of goal, bringing the Jets level only moments after going down.
Simon's goal restored parity but in keeping with the frantic nature of the opening quarter of an hour of play a third goal was to follow just two minutes later, as Condon put the Reds back in front.
Holmes had played an inviting ball into Newcastle's defensive box where Taren King looked set to clear for the Jets with no Adelaide attackers on hand to apply pressure. But King's fluffed clearance travelled directly into the path of Condon inside the box; the Reds midfielder took a touch to control before bending a strike with the outside of her right foot into the back of the net.
Newcastle began the second half with a renewed intensity and enjoyed the better of possession and territory, as the Reds sat back to preserve their lead until the hour mark when the game began to open up once more.
Two quick-fire chances presented to the Reds but neither Dawber or Waldus could make their attempts count; Dawber was first to threaten Coelho with a strike not dissimilar to the one which produced her first-half goal, slipping past Simon and shooting off her left foot but failing to beat the Jets 'keeper.
Waldus then sent a header on goal from the resulting corner and the looping attempt was goal bound before Coelho tipped the ball off the bar, preventing it from sneaking over the goal line.
The Jets matched Adelaide's successive chances on goal with two of their own, but their efforts were similarly ineffective. Panagiota Petratos hit the roof of the net with a long-range strike from distance, catching Fryer-McLaren off her line but failing to send the ball under the crossbar.
Sunny Franco then wasted the best of Newcastle's second half chances to go ahead. Found unmarked at the back post by a magnificent cross from Andrews, Franco threw herself at the ball to send a header on goal. But, her attempt from close-range was lacking quality as it faded past the near post and out for a goal kick.
Adelaide United v Sydney FC
Saturday, March 6 2021
Marden Sports Complex
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEDT
Perth Glory v Newcastle Jets
Monday, March 8 2021
Kick-off: 9.35pm AEDT