Away day woes continue to haunt Phoenix as they lose five-goal thriller to Jets

posted in: A-League (Women), News

The Wellington Phoenix have succumbed to their seventh straight road defeat in the women’s A-League, despite another standout goalkeeping performance from Brianna Edwards.

The Phoenix have been beaten 3-2 by Newcastle Jets at the No.2 Sportsground in Newcastle, with the Jets scoring two stunning second half goals to overturn an early 1-0 deficit.

Main photo: The Phoenix players celebrate taking an early lead through Mariana Speckmaier (right).

Edwards, who came off the bench to sensationally save a penalty last week, made a number of highlight reel saves on Sunday, including a save of the season contender, but was powerless to prevent Newcastle’s second and third goals.

“It’s really hard to take for Bri because she made some great saves in the game,” Phoenix head coach Paul Temple said post-match. “But they hit two absolute screamers.

“It’s so demoralising, not just for Bri but for the team, when you see those goals go in.

“They’re small percentage goals that you don’t see regularly and that’s for a reason.

“It feels really disappointing when you concede two goals like that because normally the chances are they don’t both go in in the same game.”

The Liberty A-League defeat is Wellington’s eighth this season, all by a one goal margin, and sees the Nix slip to ninth on the ladder, a point behind the Jets, but just two points off the top six.

“We’re very aware it feels a little bit like déjà vu week after week, but we will keep fighting to find the solutions,” Temple said.

“We’ve got to stick at it and the staff and players are committed to the process and working through what we’ve got to.

“As frustrating as it is, it’s part of football and building a new team.

“We’ve just got to keep moving forward and hopefully we can find some solutions in the short term that can get us to where we believe we deserve to be, which is in the playoffs.”

Three changes to starting line-up

Paul Temple made three changes to the XI which started last Sunday’s 2-0 win over Canberra United, with Football Ferns Mackenzie Barry and Michaela Foster returning from injury in place of the injured Rebecca Lake and Hope Breslin, who moved to the bench, while Edwards replaced the suspended Rylee Foster in goal.

Mariana Speckmaier put the Phoenix in front inside five minutes when she scored her fourth goal in three matches. Speckmaier managed to turn in the Newcastle box and brush off a couple of defenders before calmly slotted past Isobel Nino in the Jets’ goal.

Mariana Speckmaier puts the Phoenix ahead in the fifth minute.

Zoe McMeeken, who played further forward at left wingback, came within inches of putting the Nix two-nil up inside a quarter of an hour when she drove into the box and struck a shot that rattled the right post.

The Jets had their first chance from a set piece in the 16th minute when Edwards tipped a Melindaj Barbieri free-kick around the post.

The hosts twice headed over the Wellington goal soon after as the visitors went to the first drinks break with a one-nil lead.

Newcastle were starting to look more threatening, especially down their right-hand side and that’s where their equaliser came from in the 33rd minute

Fullback Zoe Karipidis drove a ball into the Nix box from 35 yards out looking for Sarina Bolden, but it evaded the Philippines striker and everyone else and bounced into Wellington’s net.

Brianna Edwards made an incredible stop a handful of minutes later to prevent the Jets from taking the lead. She acrobatically saved Bolden’s header from a couple of metres out, leaving the Newcastle striker in disbelief.

Brianna Edwards makes a spectacular stop at close range to prevent the Jets from taking the lead.

Edwards needed some attention immediately after as she collided with the post and teammate Hailey Davidson after making the save.

But she was able to continue and made a more regulation stop soon after to deny Cassidy Davis’ shot from the edge of the box.

Main, on as a substitute for a limping Speckmaier, tested Isobel Nino in the Newcastle goal moments later with her own shot from the edge of the Jets’ penalty area.

The Phoenix were unlucky not to take the halftime lead, with Nino making up for her wayward pass by tipping Annalie Longo’s shot on to her far post.

Instead, the Jets took the lead five minutes into the second half when Elizabeth Copus-Brown smashed home Newcastle’s second goal off the crossbar with a thunderous strike from just outside the box.

The Jets celebrate their second goal against the Phoenix.

Bolden came close to making it 3-1 in the 55th minute when she struck the same post that McMeeken and Longo had rattled in the first half, this time with a long-range shot after the Nix gave up possession in midfield.

Moments later, Isabel Cox drew Wellington level when she was slipped in behind by Macey Fraser. She rounded the ‘keeper and coolly finished into the unguarded net.

Phoenix striker Isabel Cox takes her chance to pull her side level 2-2.

Shortly after the kick-off, Longo had a chance to give the Phoenix the lead, but Nino produced a great save to prevent Wellington’s captain from finding the top corner of Newcastle’s goal.

Sarina Bolden put the Jets back in front midway through the second half with another top drawer finish, turning and shooting in one motion from the top left corner of the penalty area and picking out the far corner of Brianna Edwards’ net.

This time there was nothing the Nix ‘keeper could do.

Edwards made a couple more quality saves to keep the Phoenix in the match, first denying Bolden her second and then tipping over a shot from Newcastle midfielder Emma Dundas in time added on.

The Nix pushed numbers forward in search of an equaliser in the final 25 minutes but were unable to produce the final ball to unlock the Jets’ defence and further test Nino, as Newcastle hung on to claim all three points and leapfrog Wellington on the ladder.

The Wellington Phoenix have a fortnight to prepare for their next match against Western United with their round 16 fixture against Adelaide United postponed to next month due to the Football Ferns’ Olympic qualifiers in Samoa, which start on Wednesday.



Game played on Sunday February 4, 2024

Newcastle Jets 3 (Zoe Karipidis 33′, Libby Copus-Brown 50′, Sarina Bolden 65′)
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Mariana Speckmaier 4′, Isabel Cox 56′)


Table at 10pm (NZT) on Sunday February 4.


Newcastle Jets

1. Isobel NINO (gk), 2. Josephine WILSON (4. Natasha PRIOR 46th), 6. Cassidy DAVIS (c), 9. Melindaj BARBIERI (15. Alexandra HUYNH 85th), 10. Elizabeth COPUS-BROWN, 11. Sarina BOLDEN (24. Milan HAMMOND 90+5), 13. Lauren ALLAN (25. Lara GOOCH 73rd), 18. Sophie HOBAN, 22. Lorena BAUMANN, 23. Zoe KARIPIDIS, 28. Emma DUNDAS.

Unused substitutes: 21. Kiara ROCHAIX (gk).

Wellington Phoenix

12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 2. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Macey FRASER, 7. Isabel COX, 13. Michaela FOSTER (10. Alyssa WHINHAM 60th), 16. Annalie LONGO (c) (11. Hope BRESLIN 60th), 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER (20. Emma MAIN 42nd (21. Manaia ELLIOTT 81st)), 18. Hailey DAVIDSON, 26. Tiana JABER.

Unused substitutes: 22. Aimee DANIELI (gk)


28. Emma DUNDAS (Newcastle Jets) – yellow – 68′
23. Zoe KARIPIDIS (Newcastle Jets) – yellow – 70′
22. Lorena BAUMANN (Newcastle Jets) – yellow – 90+3′


This story is published with the help of the Wellington Phoenix.

Visit the Phoenix Kit Hub

Here’s where you can buy your Wellington Phoenix apparel:

More football stories