Adelaide United were stumped by Newcastle Jets as they lost 1-2 against all odds in the penultimate round of the W-League.
The teams met on New Years’ Eve to play the earliest W-League game in history, where Adelaide ran amuck and won 3-2.
Adelaide’s slim chance at their maiden finals run hung in the balance as they head into the must-win match against the Jets, a side who is playing for pride while making predicting final fours just that bit harder.
The visitors saw two changes in their lineup – Teigan Collister earning her first start as she replaced an injured Gema Simon, and Larissa Crummer returning to her natural position as a striker.
On the other hand, Adelaide welcomed their two Icelandic stars, Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir and Fridriksdottir, back from international duty.
Newcastle looked the better team in the opening minutes, their high press threatened the home side’s defence and forced them to sit deeper than usual.
Jets’ plans of playing Crummer on top look to have paid off in the ninth minute, when she was in on goal after snatching a poor back pass by Adelaide’s defence to go solo against goalkeeper Sarah Willacy.
However, a heavy clash between the two in the box put a heartbreaking stop to Crummer’s time to shine as striker as she suffered a serious leg injury and had to be stretchered off the field via ambulance.
After a lengthy delay in the game for Crummer’s treatment, Wright stepped up to the spot to put away the penalty.
Newcastle’s lead seemed to wake Adelaide up as they injected intensity and a sense of urgency that were missing from the side when they lost 1-4 last week against Western Sydney Wanderers.
And it did. Seven minutes later, Adelaide equalised through Friðriksdóttir who latched onto the ball when Newcastle’s defence struggled to clear their lines. She fired it past Britt Eckerstrom to chalk up her second goal of the season.
The Reds had slightly more possession and control in midfield in the first half, with Jónsdóttir and Dylan Holmes working hard in the engine room.
They also had multiple convincing chances in the first half to widen the scoreline, including two long balls from Amber Brooks which released Veronica Latsko to go one-on-one against the Jets keeper, but both skimmed the side-netting.
The second half saw the intensity turned up as Adelaide became more desperate with each passing minute for a goal, while the Jets absorbed pressure and waited for opportunities to pounce on the counter.
Newcastle found plenty of joy along the flanks, but especially through Collister as she was able to outmuscle her markers and cause problems in Adelaide’s defensive half.
However, neither teams were able to break down each other’s disciplined defence.
Adelaide would rue over their finishing, as more solid chances go begging with Latsko’s header off a corner crashing into the crossbar in the 66th minute, and Jónsdóttir scuffed her shot after being released by a through-ball from Heyman and it rolled harmlessly wide of the goal.
The visitors had the last say of the game though, through Panayiota Petratos who put the Jets one-up in additional time with her first ever W-League goal. She slammed home the game-winning goal after Willacy’s clearance of Renee Pountney’s shot landed perfectly at her feet.
Adelaide head coach Ivan Karlovic reflected on the missed opportunities post-game.
“We’re just disappointed that we couldn’t get something out of the game. We didn’t capitalise on the opportunities that we had.”
Regardless of not being able to make finals, Karlovic is proud of the massive improvements his team has made this season.
“It’s always a difficult one, because you are pleased but also disappointed. We set the benchmark high [for ourselves] when we started to go places, and we made some huge inroads in that area.”
“I think we gave ourselves the best possible chance. I think we surprised a lot of teams, but sometimes, you just don’t get the rub of the green and it just doesn’t go your way unfortunately.”
Newcastle now fly home with satisfaction and pride in themselves to face off against bottom team Western Sydney Wanderers, while Adelaide are left thinking how close within reach finals football would have been, as they host Brisbane Roar at home next week.