JETS coach Craig Deans had one role in mind for Arin Wright when the American arrived a month into Newcastle’s W-League campaign – attack.
However, suspensions and injuries forced Deans to put those plans on the back burner as Wright filled holes in defence.
That all changed against Perth Glory last round. Wright was pitched forward into the No.10 role and responded with a spectacular strike to help steer the Jets to a 3-1 win.
Next is a must-win clash with nemesis Melbourne City at Smith Reserve on Sunday.
“Gilly (Wright) can play anywhere and because we had suspensions and injuries in defensive positions, we had to use her to plug a gap, which is not what I brought her here for,” Deans said. “It was nice to be able to put her further forward against Perth. She is good with both feet, she can dribble, she is quick, she can shoot, she is aggressive, she is positive with the ball … that rubs off on the others. She can change the momentum of a game. You could be defending and she picks the ball up, runs 50 metres and beats three people. She may not score a goal but she might get you a corner or a freekick or something like that. Hopefully, for the next three games, she can stay there and continue on.”
Wright, whose arrival was delayed due to her wedding in Hawaii, said she was happy to play in any position.
“I came back to play for the Jets,” she said. “I love the Jets and everything about this city. I didn’t just come here to play an attacking role, but I do enjoy it. That is the position I find most exciting. When I get to come here and be that super-free attacking player, it is something I love, and I think I play my best soccer when I am doing that.”
The Jets sit in eighth place on 10 points, five points outside the top four, with three games remaining. They are yet to beat City in six attempts since the Melburnians’ joined the competition for the 2015-16 season.
“We had never lost to Brisbane and lost to them this season,” Deans said. “Records like that are meant to be broken. That is the way football goes. We won’t worry too much about what has happened in the past.
“They are a good team and we will respect that. But if we perform like we did on Saturday, there is no reason why we can’t beat anyone.”
Apart from Wright, senior players Tara Andrews and Gema Simon led the way against Perth. But it was the young brigade which impressed Wright, who is in her third season in Newcastle.
“Deansy has done a great job of making sure that our bench is deep this year,” Wright said. “A lot of the young ones have been able to step up to the plate and show they have what it takes to compete at this level. They have gotten their feet wet in the W-league, which is awesome for them. We knew Perth was a must-win game and that played into the way we played. Now we are building off that momentum and hopefully we can keep it going for the next game. We know what the ladder looks like, we know what we need to do. Now it is game-to-game and must wins all the way through.”