The Newcastle Jets will need to take better care of the ball if they are to push for finals this A-League Women's campaign.
They coughed up the ball too easily in a 3-1 loss to defending premiers Sydney FC in their season-opener at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday.
After going into the sheds locked 0-0 at the break, thanks largely to some shot-stopping heroics by Claire Coelho and solid back-line defending, the Jets proved their own worst enemies in the second half.
A failure to keep the ball led to Remy Siemsen's goal in the 52nd minute. Cortnee Vine then intercepted a pass out of the back line to set up Princess Ibini in the 58th.
Jets forward Lauren Allan had almost immediate impact after coming on for Jemma House in the 62nd. She scored from the edge of the six-yard box in the 67th.
But the momentum swing was short-lived as Vine restored Sydney's two-goal buffer two minutes later with a free touch in the goalmouth from a corner.
To make matters worse, Newcastle played the last 15 minutes of the match reduced to 10 after right-back Tiana Jaber was sent off for two yellow card offences.
The performance against a benchmark side gives Jets coach Ash Wilson plenty to work on in the lead-up to Newcastle's first home game against newcomers Wellington Phoenix at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday.
"We just didn't protect the ball as much as we should have," Wilson said. "Lots of unnecessary turnovers cost us against a good team, and we just weren't consistent."
Some more decisive passes, stronger challenges for the ball and better game management would have made it a different story.
"The corner goal was poor defending from us, that's the reality of it," Wilson said. "If it stays out of the goal it's 2-1 and you're still in the game and you've got a bit of momentum. They're lessons that the girls are going to have to learn."
But it was not all doom and gloom. The ALW debuts of teenage talent Kirsty Fenton at left-back and Lucy Johnson in the middle of the park were positives, as was the return of attacking player Ash Brodigan, who was thrust into the action after a four-season absence in place of injured Bethany Gordon in the 33rd minute.
American midfielder Elizabeth Eddy showed her quality in a 90-minute performance and Norwegian forward Marie Dolvik Markussen came off the bench in the 66th.
"There were definitely positive signs," Wilson said. "We just need the girls to continue being confident in the things we're asking them to do and to have a bit more care at times."
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- She's also a criminal solictor: Meet Jets goalkeeper Claire Coelho
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- Jets all-time leading scorer also civil engineer: Meet Tara Andrews
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- She has a degree in criminology and loves the NBA: Meet Jets midfielder Lucy Johnson
- She's studying radiography and loves to run: Meet Jets forward Lauren Allan
- She's a full-time bank teller and is targeting a Jets starting spot: Meet Jemma House
- She started out playing rugby union: Meets Jets young gun Kirsty Fenton
- She works, studies and plays for the Jets: Meet defender Taren King
- She co-ordinates a rowing program and has a degree in medical science: Meet goalkeeper Georgia Boric
- She's a slick scorer on field and a chemist manager off: Meet attacking player Ash Brodigan
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