It’s a brave new world. We have the first female ref in the A-League starting (which shouldn’t be such a big deal, but obviously it is – congratulations and thank you Kate Jacewicz!) We’ve got new Spanish import Markel Susaeta on the bench for City, we’ve got potential new Newcastle coach Carl Robinson sitting in the stands…
But it’s the same old Newcastle. All heart, no result. Dimi Petratos takes a corner in the 7th minute and it goes rogue, finds Jamie Maclaren who runs it down the left, approaches the Newcastle goal and swings the ball to Craig Noone on his right. Noone takes a touch then left foots it into the far reaches of Lewis Italiano’s goal. 1-0. Noone had previously missed a sitter so now he finds redemption.
He tries to repay the favour in the 31st minute with a long cross from midfield that finds Maclaren outside the area. Maclaren swings it across the face of goal, where Italiano deflects it with a leap and a punch.
It’s the moments that set City apart. They’re just a little bit sharper in attack, a little bit quicker in pursuit. Newcastle has a couple of shining lights: Abdiel Arroyo is one. Italiano is another. They’re pressing high and keeping play condensed and it’s a little bit grinding to watch. But defensively, they’re leaving the wings unmarked and that’s where City captures most of their territory with long, looping kicks that send the Jets back to square one.
We go into half time and it’s City keeper Dean Bouzanis with a clean sheet, saving a good Newcastle chance from a corner in the 34th, and a Dimi Petratos strike in the 39th. We’ve barely heard a word from Kate Jacewicz. No contentious calls. No needless whistle blowing. No abdicating judgment to the VAR. She gives just one yellow card in the 33rd minute, to Ben Kantarovski from Newcastle for a hard tackle. It really is a brave new world.
Trouble strikes in the 60th minute when Nik Topor-Stanley and Harrison Delbridge both head the ball in the box. It grazes Topor-Stanley’s shoulder and play continues for a moment until Jakewicz intervenes and watches the replay. She gets it right: it’s unlucky but NTS does jump with his arms up.
Italiano leaps the right way but Maclaren’s penalty beats him and it’s 2-0 to City.
Newcastle has patches where they keep the ball airborne with sustained headers and high kicks, rather than passing and chasing. It has the effect of nullifying play: and as my football coach Keith says, it’s a 50/50 when the ball’s in the air. (Unless it’s coming for me personally. In which case I duck.)
Susaeta comes on in the 85th replacing Lachie Wales, who’s been sound up front. Susaeta looks decidedly non-jetlagged. We see enough from him to know he can kick the ball in the right direction on first go – and really, sometimes that’s all we can ask for in the A-League.
City prevail 2-0. There are no real standout performances from either side and it’s an adequate showing from both – expectations now switch to whomever the new Newcastle coach is to see what, if anything, he can do with the rest of their season.
What a relief, though, for the new standard of refereeing set by Kate Jacewicz. Now let’s get some regular female match commentary so this league can really grow.
By Kelly Simpson