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ALW: Jets keep dream alive following extra-time thriller

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The Newcastle Jets dream season will continue after a brilliant 4-2 extra-time victory over Western United on Saturday night.

After 15 seasons, the Hunter-based A-League Women’s (ALW) squad finally won its first finals showdown on 13 April and now faces Melbourne City in a two-leg series, which includes a fixture in Maitland this weekend.

Even though the hosts had more shots on goal, it was Ryan Campbell’s outfit who held its nerve.

In the end, prolific finals striker Melina Ayres and Sophie Hoban proved the difference, scoring goals in the 101st and 113th minutes.

But, the fixture endured embarrassing scenes midway through the second half when the lights went out at the new Regional Football Facility in Tarneit.

The break allowed the under-pressure United to regroup, which it did to level up at 2-all.

Despite that, and some spiteful moments on the field, Newcastle – who grabbed sixth spot on the ladder – thoroughly deserved the result.

International star Sarina Bolden produced a sensational individual strike to give the Jets a handy 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.

Young Newcastle keeper Tiahna Robertson, filling in for the suspended Izzy Nino, then pulled off a marvellous save to deny a frustrated Catherine Zimmerman.

However, Western didn’t need to wait long for the reply.

In the 22nd minute, Alana Cerne netted after a superb corner cross to even things up at 1-all.

Both sides lifted the intensity in the final stages of the stanza.

But, right on half-time, Jaclyn Sawicki was penalised for handling the ball.

Bolden stepped up to the mark and placed a right-footed shot into the corner of the net, presenting the Jets with a 2-1 margin.

Their joy was short-lived.

Libby Copus-Brown fell foul of the referee in the penalty area.

Soon after, Zimmerman squeezed the ball past Robertson for a 2-all scoreline.

And, despite desperate attempts on each side of the field, it remained that way after 90 minutes.

With extra-time required, Newcastle put the issue beyond doubt, thanks to the experienced Ayres and newcomer Hoban, who scored her maiden goal of 2023/24 at the best possible time.

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