Jets W-League coach Craig Deans believes his team are regularly being punished for not having big-name players after a controversial 26th-minute send-off marred an “unbelievable” performance from Newcastle in a 2-2 away draw with Perth on Saturday night.
Matildas defender Larissa Crummer was shown a straight red card for a challenge on superstar striker Sam Kerr, who slotted the ensuing penalty to make it 2-2 and cap a frantic opening 27 minutes at Dorrien Gardens.
Much like their 3-2 semi-final loss to Sydney last season, where they forced the game to extra-time despite losing Hannah Brewer to a red card in the first half, Newcastle held on against the odds to draw the round-seven game.
Deans said the effort from his side, who moved to seven points from six games, was unbelievable, but he was disappointed about the send-off call.
“What I’ve been told is that the rule is that as long as you’re making a football challenge – it’s definitely a penalty, I’ve got no problem with the penalty, but it’s not a red card, it’s a yellow card,” Deans said.
“So it’s ruined the game of football and that’s the most disappointing thing because football is about people paying money to come see it and see 11 v 11 and if we had won the game or lost the game I would still make the same comment.
“We did the same thing last year in the final and it keeps happening to us,” he added.
“We don’t have name players, other than maybe Emily [van Egmond] in Australia, so last year we had the semi-final and Lisa De Vanna got tackled and it’s a red card, but it’s not a red card because there’s four defenders around her.
"And I’m getting a bit sick of it because we have a good team and we get punished regularly for not having big-name players and that’s annoying, from my point of view, but the performance of 10 players for 75 minutes I thought was unbelievable.
“I think if we had have won the game most people would probably think we wouldn’t be deserving of that, but probably a draw was fair in terms of number of shots on target Perth had in the second half.”
Goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom was outstanding was the Jets, who suffered a major blow in the 84th minute when Taylor Smith went down with a knee injury and was stretchered off.
Smith had provided the balls for Katie Stengel to score in the 17th and 18th minutes to make it 2-1 after Leticia McKenna put the hosts in front in the fourth.
Deans was unsure of the damage to Smith, who he said was an important player for the Jets. He said on Sunday the extent of the injury would not be known until after scans.
He praised Eckerstrom, his defence and the work of Clare Wheeler and Van Egmond in midfield in the gritty display after the send-off.
Eckerstrom’s saves included a superb diving effort to deny Shannon May in the 78th minute.
Newcastle’s next match is against Adelaide at McDonald Jones Stadium on December 30.
”She was brilliant last week in a game we lost [3-1 to Melbourne City],” he said of the American keeper.
“At training she does things like that all the time so to be honest it’s not a huge surprise, but her agility is out of this world and her shot-stopping is brilliant.
“She’s getting better with her all-round football contribution of being involved in the build up of play and organisation.
“She doesn’t play much at home so she’s obviously still learning and making her way in the game, but she was brilliant.”