Newcastle coach Craig Deans reckons his team’s bogey side, Melbourne City, will get past premiers Brisbane in next week’s W-League semi-finals.
And after another three-goal loss on Saturday night to City, Deans says the Jets would love a shot at redemption in a grand final in Newcastle.
First, though, the Jets must defeat Sydney at Leichhardt Oval in their semi-final next Saturday.
Finals-bound Newcastle lost 3-0 at McDonald Jones Stadium to City, who needed to win the last-round game to make the play-offs.
On Sunday, Brisbane beat Canberra 4-1 to win the premiership and second-placed Sydney downed Western Sydney by the same margin.
The results left Newcastle third on ‘goals for’ over City, who matched them in points, goal difference and wins.
In the finals for the first time in nine years, Newcastle will come up against a side they have defeated and drawn with this season.
“To be honest, we’ve done well against everyone bar Melbourne City, even in the last two years,” Deans said of the prospect of playing the Sky Blues in a grand final qualifier.
“It is what it is. We just have to go down there and do what we have to do and we’ll see what happens.”
Newcastle fielded an attacking squad against City in the hunt for a top-two spot and with centre-back Tash Prior (foot) out, but they were exposed at the back three times before the break. Jodie Taylor scored from close range in the 29th minute when Newcastle failed to clear, then Aivi Luik (33’) and Yukari Kinga (45+1’) scored with headers at set-pieces.
Deans said the loss, which followed a 5-2 defeat to City in round three, was a reality check for his side about the work still needed, but he hoped to see the two-time grand final winners again. He said the “ultimate goal” now was to beat Sydney and hope City prevail, giving Newcastle a decider at home.
“It’s an accurate reflection of where we are as a team,” Deans said on Sunday of Saturday night’s result.
“We’ve done well to make the finals and sometimes we’ve played very good football, and sometimes we’ve been a bit off the mark. That’s where we’re at.
“We had a free hit last night and it was a good chance to get some minutes into some people who needed some minutes, like Gema Simon and Sophie Nenadovic. That was important.
“Make no mistake, we wanted to win the game because it’s nice to keep winning, but if Melbourne City turned up and played like that every week, then they would go through undefeated like they did in their first year.
“That’s the challenge we’ve got, to match it with teams like that. But it was a good chance for me to have a look at Melbourne City.
“Hopefully we get through to the final, and I think there’s a good chance we’ll play them again, and I think I’ve got a better idea on how we need to approach the game.
“We can win it, but we have to be at our absolute best every week, and that wasn’t the case last night.”