COACH Craig Deans was unhappy with the performance but proud of the fight after his Newcastle Jets lost goalkeeper Kelsey Wys to a potentially season-ending injury early in a 1-0 win over Perth Glory on Sunday.
In their first home game of the W-League season, the Jets won with a 48th-minute penalty from American striker Jen Hoy at McDonald Jones Stadium after she was fouled heavily close to goal while trying to reach a Jenna Kingsley cross. The Chicago Red Star’s first goal for Newcastle proved enough in a game of missed opportunities which was overshadowed by the sickening knee injury to Wys in the seventh minute.
The Washington Spirit keeper’s right knee buckled sideways after she landed awkwardly from a jump to grab the ball in a contest.
Deans said Wys was expected to have scans on Sunday night “but it didn’t look good on the screen and it’s disappointing”.
He believed the incident played a part in a lacklustre display from the Jets, who were coming off a 4-0 away win over Melbourne Victory.
“I’m not happy with the performance at all but sometimes games like that happen,” Deans said. “I think when you lose a player early in the game like we did to an injury like that, it is upsetting, and it does take a bit out of you. Even as a coach, it’s soul destroying to see a player have that happen, and I’m sure as a player, it takes some time.
“Maybe that had a bit to do with it, but the way they fought and the reaction from half-time onward was better.”
The win put Newcastle top of the table as joint leaders with six points in three rounds.
Glory had the better of the first half, hitting the crossbar with a Vanessa Di Bernardo strike in the second minute and having a Sam Kerr header cleared off the line by Clare Wheeler in the 22nd. The visitors also threatened late with one-on-one chances to Kerr (75th minute) and Alyssa Mautz (91st). Kerr was also wide with a header in the second minute of injury time.
Newcastle had chances of their own but were under pressure for much of the first half and again late in the game. A handball call against Perth’s Patricia Charalambous in the penalty area was turned down in 14th minute. Sophie Nenadovic and Rhali Dobson went close with strikes late for Newcastle.
The decisive penalty came in a bright period for the Jets after half-time.
“They didn’t give an accurate representation of who they are as a team,” Deans said of the first half from Newcastle.
“The first two weeks were excellent – the way we played, the way we applied ourselves and the energy that we showed – and we didn’t do that today.
“It was disappointing, so it was just a reminder [at half-time] of what we stand for, they way we want to play and to show the people of Newcastle that’s who we are.”
Elsewhere, Western Sydney beat Adelaide 2-1, Sydney downed Melbourne Victory 2-1 and Canberra defeated Brisbane 1-0.
Deans, meanwhile, was confident his side would improve and praised the effort of Claire Coehlo, who came on for Wys.
“Last week we spoke about losing the ball in transition and we had some video on it, but it was worse this week,” he said.
“There’s lots of things to work on. We’re two weeks in, we’ve had three weeks as a group and we have to get better with the ball, but defensively again we were really good.
“It was good for Claire Coehlo to come in, keep a clean sheet, make some saves and show some confidence. I’m happy for her and I’m happy for the girls.
“[Perth] are a good team and they have some very good players, so to keep them scoreless was good, but I think we definitely need to keep building and improving and I’m very confident we will.
“I think last year we didn’t win a game at home, so it’s a big improvement on last season already. But we have lots of work to do and we want to keep making sure we win games.”