ALW Elimination Final Report: Western United 2-4 Newcastle Jets

Catherine Zimmerman Western United A-League Women

Western United suffered Liberty A-League Women heartbreak on Saturday night, falling 4-2 to Newcastle Jets in the Elimination Final.

The Green and Black fought all night long through incredible circumstances – a bizarre disallowed goal and a power outage among them.

Alana Cerne’s first ever Liberty A-League goal and a Catherine Zimmerman penalty forced the game into extra-time, where the Jets scored once in each half to advance.

Western United team news

Kat Smith brought Zimmerman back into the starting line-up after she missed the last game of the regular season due to personal reasons.

Emma Robers came back into the XI in midfield to replace Avaani Prakash, while Cerne and Grace Maher started in defence having each played every single minute of the regular season.

First Half

Western United made a positive start to the game, getting on the front foot and looking to test Newcastle’s defence immediately.

Zimmerman nearly opened the scoring with a spectacular long-range lob before Aimee Medwin also went close from distance, firing just over the bar.

That good work was undone soon after, though, as Newcastle won the ball high up the pitch and Sarina Bolden capitalised with an excellent finish into the bottom corner.

After the early setback, United’s players dusted themselves off and went about finding a prompt equaliser.

The hosts threatened from a couple of corners until one finally found the net. Tyla Jay Vlajnic’s looping delivery picked out Cerne at the back post, and the centre-back improvised brilliantly with a finish into the bottom corner on the volley.

Drawing level again, United’s nerves settled and the team continued to play positively going forward while remaining tight at the back to limit any additional Newcastle opportunities.

Tarneit had lift off in the 40th minute when everyone in the stadium thought Western United had taken the lead.

After winning possession, bearing down on goal and rounding the goalkeeper, Zimmerman found the net via a deflection from Newcastle’s Josephine Wilson.

Despite the referee signalling for the goal, the teams returning to their positions to kick-off and there being no VAR in the Liberty A-League, the goal was curiously disallowed after the fact.

United’s frustration was compounded when Newcastle snatched the lead themselves on the stroke of half-time, with Bolden firing a penalty into the roof of the net after the ball struck Jaclyn Sawicki’s arm in the box.

Second Half

Western United went chasing another equaliser in the second half and Vlajnic had an early chance, blasting a shot just wide of the right-hand post.

The drama continued as an unexpected power outage halted proceedings. After a 20-minute delay, power returned and play was resumed in the 56th minute.

Just 10 minutes after the restart, United had its chance when Zimmerman was fouled from behind inside the penalty area.

The American picked herself up and buried the resultant spot kick into the bottom corner, emphatically with her opposite foot.

Spurred on by the goal and the atmosphere around the ground, the Green and Black remained on the front foot and would have taken the lead but for a remarkable save from Tiahna Robertson, with the Newcastle keeper somehow plucking Sawicki’s effort out of the top corner.

United hearts were in mouths with one minute of stoppage time remaining when Melina Ayres looked to latch onto a deflected ball at the back post, but she couldn’t make meaningful contact on the stretch and Alyssa Dall’Oste was able to gather, sending the game into an additional 30 minutes.

Extra-time first half

It was a cagey beginning to extra-time but Maher broke things open when she made her way all the way into the box down the left-hand side.

After a lovely pirouette, Maher clipped a right-footed ball towards Zimmerman at the back post but the No.34 couldn’t direct her volley on target.

That would prove to sting United as Ayres put Newcastle in front four minutes later, running onto a ball over the top and finishing strongly on her left foot.

Extra-time second half

Smith brought substitutions into the game as United threw everything at a third equaliser in the game, but that ultimately left Newcastle with space to exploit.

As the Green and Black crept forward, the visitors iced the game at the other end when Sophie Hoban found the bottom corner to sink Western United hearts.