JETS W-League coach Craig Deans is disappointed the finals have slipped from reach but he is proud to be part of a club developing local talent and support following a 4-0 loss to Melbourne City.
Missing star players Emily Van Egmond (ankle), Katie Stengel (foot) and Taylor Smith (knee) through injury, Newcastle were outclassed by the star-studded three-time defending premiers on Sunday night in Melbourne.
The defeat left the Jets on 10 points – six points and 12 goals outside the top four – with two games to play, all but ending their hopes of repeating last season’s run to the finals.
Although disappointed to lose on Sunday night and effectively miss the play-offs, Deans was proud of the Jets’ efforts in developing women’s football.
“I think the difference is, on paper, Melbourne City have a squad that no one else can afford,” Deans said.
“On paper, they should probably win every game pretty comfortably.
“I’m actually pretty happy with where we’re at because, at the end of the day, we had seven girls from Newcastle that started in that game.
“It was disappointing that we didn’t win and we were outplayed totally, but I think that as a club we’re heading in the right direction. For us to put seven local girls out on the pitch, having developed most of them ourselves, it’s something we should be proud of.”
Deans also took heart from the support the Jets have built at home.
“I sat on the bench and looked across the field and there were about 200 people watching the game,” he said of the away clash against City.
“When you compare that to the crowd we had at No.2 Sportsground the week before of 2000 [in a 3-1 win over Perth], I think, as an overall club situation, ours is something I’m proud to be a part of.
“It’s the best crowd and atmosphere we’ve had all year. We went to Perth and Sam Kerr played and we had 600 people there. We went to Melbourne City, who have all the money in the world but 200 people watching, so I’m happy with where we’re at.
“It’s definitely positive because I know with the academy we’ve got, we’ve got a good opportunity of developing our own players and to keep giving them opportunities to play at this level rather than rely on money to fill a team.
“For a city like Newcastle, I think it’s important to give the kids here something to aspire to.”
The Jets are away to Adelaide on Friday night before finishing the season at home against Western Sydney.
Deans said it was important to finish the injury-hit season well and build for their next campaign.
“It’s disappointing,” he said. “We obviously all wanted to make the finals this year and continue from where we got to last year but there’s different factors around that.
“We’ve still got two games to play, and we want to finish with a couple of wins. Hopefully in the last game against Wanderers we can improve on the 2000 people who came to the last game and finish the season in a good way.”
Matildas defender Gema Simon was the only injury concern out of the loss to City.
“Gema has a couple of little injuries so we’ll have to look at her for the last couple of games,” Deans said.