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ALW: Melbourne ends Newcastle Jets’ brave campaign

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Take a bow Newcastle Jets.

The club’s A-League Women’s (ALW) squad – from coach Ryan Campbell and his assistants to the players and injured stars – deserves plenty of praise for a superb campaign in 2023/24.

Unfortunately, it ended at the hands of Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Sunday 28 April, who not only prevailed 3-0 but booked a grand final berth against Sydney FC in less than a week’s time.

Needing a big win away from home, Newcastle threw caution to the wind from the kick-off.

And, in fairness, the Jets should have led 2-0 in the first five minutes, with Sarina Bolden, Lauren Allan, Melina Ayres, Libby Copus-Brown and MelindaJ Barbieri all pressuring host keeper Barbara… however, to no avail.

The visitors continued to launch raid after raid.

But, to her credit, Barbara was unrelenting in goals.

In the 14th minute, an Ayres’ deflection flew over the crossbar while Lara Gooch sent the ball wide seconds later.

Newcastle wasted another golden opportunity soon after.

Bolden placed a brilliant cross in the 23rd minute at the feet of Ayres, who fired too high again.

Then, against the run of play, disaster struck.

In the 26th minute, the dangerous Daniela Galic set up Rhianna Pollicina, who evaded the outstretched hands of Jets No. 1 Izzy Nino for a 1-0 (and 4-0 aggregate) lead.

Despite that blow, Newcastle failed to surrender and stuck to its attacking game plan.

However, City remained resolute.

At the other end of the field, Nino produced several brilliant saves to allow the side to trail just 1-0 at the break.

The Jets began the second half, much like the first 45, with Bolden missing the mark following good lead-up work by Ayres.

The pair troubled Melbourne regularly but unlike previous outings couldn’t make an impact.

City put the issue beyond doubt when Hannah Wilkinson scored in the 67th minute, for 2-0, despite being offside and Leticia McKenna (70th) followed with a goal of her own.

And, sadly, a brave Newcastle just ran out of gas.

All up, it was a remarkable season for the Jets, which dealt with many distractions over the past six months.

The Hunter should be extremely proud of the girls’ efforts, who will gain a lot from the experience.

Also, the weekend loss marked defender Alex Huynh’s final appearance for Newcastle after she announced her retirement from the ALW.

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