It was a clash of the middle order as the Western Sydney Wanderers fell 1-0 to the Newcastle Jets (40’ Andrews) as both teams chased a finals berth at a breezy Popondetta Park.

Five Things We Learned – Western Sydney Wanderers

1.  Cooper’s Come Back: Western Sydney were boosted by the surprise return of captain Caitlin Cooper after an extended injury layoff and her backline marshaling paid immediate dividends. Cooper’s central pairing with Carmelina Moscato kept a busy Wanderers backline in check and a bursting Newcastle Jets at bay in a pacey first forty-five.

2.  Caught In The Middle: The Wanderers were without midfield stalwart Linda O’Neill (injured) and her absence was felt as Keelin Winters was kept busy by handful and match standout, Caprice Dydasco. The entertaining duels proved crucial with much of the possession and momentum won and lost between the two.

3.  Up Front: In a fast paced, defensive game Wanderers striker Liz Grey struggled to recreate recent success as she continued her role as the traditional ‘target man’. The tall forward was again pushed and pulled around the park tiring with little impact as the Jets defused her close range threat.

4.  Back To Front: Having started in each of the Wanderers outings this season, the ever reliable Moscato and Ellie Carpenter again commandeered the backline. A familiar display of poise, confidence and control on the ball saw both players make essential last-ditch tackles, interceptions and ignite counter attack through clever passing and gutsy runs.

5.  Number One: Jada Whyman was a picture of confidence as a collection of top class saves showed exactly why she is the Wanderers first choice keeper, despite her number twenty jersey. Whyman’s impressive performance kept the Wanderers in the game as she dived, jumped, challenged one on one and smothered to deny the jets sure chances.

Five Things We Learned – Newcastle Jets

1.  Speed: Plenty of it. If you had to describe the Newcastle Jets in one word it would be, put simply – fast. The aptly named Jets possess lightning speed across the pitch and it’s that speed that makes them so dangerous. On the counter the Jets go something like; counter attack, daylight and then everybody else trying to catch up.

The most impressive part of the Jets speed however, is in their defense. The Wanderers, a well-drilled counter-attacking unit, are notorious for absorbing pressure and playing on the break and those intentions were again made clear. The difference? The Jets defense had the speed to chase them down disassembling both the threat and the Wanderers game plan.

2.  Width: The Jets looked a well-oiled unit as they dazzled in patches of play, stringing together some impressive passes and playing with confidence in each other. Play was quickly switched and stretched with the likes of Georgia Yeoman-Dale, Jenna Kingsley and Chloe Logarzo making themselves dangerous bursting down the wings and cutting back into the middle.

3.  Dydasco Domination: The Wanderers faithful could have been forgiven for thinking they had purchased the wrong tickets as the Wanderers v Jets fixture quickly became the Dydasco Show.

Dydasco featured as midfielder, defender and forward as she pulled the strings, dropped back and was repeatedly unlucky not to find herself on the score sheet in a performance that was as entertaining as it was impressive.

4.  Midfield Magic: The standout performance of Dydasco set the tone as the Jets bossed the midfield controlling possession and maintaining attacking pressure. The Dydasco/Dobson combination created countless opportunities, width and momentum as they puppeteered the attack sending dangerous balls from the middle.

5.  Finishing: While the Jets emerged the better of the two sides on this occasion, the final score served no justice to either team, as neither was short on chances. With an opportunity to close the game out in the first forty-five the Jets lacked the clinical finish stuttering in front of goal and leaving the door open for the Wanderers to find their way back into the contest. If the Jets are to assert themselves as a credible finals threat finishing must improve.

Up Next?

The Wanderers have their work cut out for them if they are to secure a first ever finals appearance but it’s not going to be easy as they find themselves against the odds and in the lion’s den away to the red-hot Melbourne City for the first time.

Meanwhile the Jets will be hoping for a bumper crowd as they take on Melbourne Victory at Hunter Stadium in the Match of the Round.