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Late strike denies Jets share of ALW lead

A goal-of-the-year contender from Tiana Jaber was not enough to end a tumultuous week on a high for Newcastle Jets as Western Sydney Wanderers secured a last-gasp 1-1 draw in their A-League Women clash.

The Jets seemed set for a share of top spot on the fledgling ladder after Jaber’s 21st-minute strike, only for the Wanderers to strike in the final minute through Ashlie Crofts at Blacktown Football Park on Friday night.

It was a debut Wanderers goal for Blacktown-local Crofts who had entered the fray at half-time.

The late equaliser left the Jets rueing a host of missed opportunities in the latter stages.

The Jets were rocked by a COVID-19 case in midweek, reportedly Kirsty Fenton, with the defender not travelling for the match, while Lauren Allan was an 11th-hour omission after initially being named on the teamsheet.

“It was a pretty tough week, and distracting as well, but we are not looking to make excuses,” said Jets coach Ash Wilson.

“The girls showed a lot of character to come down and play the way they did given the circumstances for this game, and that is a credit to them.”

A meandering and disjointed first half played in hot conditions was punctuated by Jaber’s strike which flew over the head of Sarah Willacy from 30 metres.

Emily van Egmond again turned out for the Jets as part of her short guest stint, but aside from the odd clever pass, the Matildas’ midfielder was unable to create many goalscoring opportunities.

The Wanderers barely troubled the opposition goal until the latter stages of the second half. Notably Bryleeh Henry blazed over from close range on the follow-up after Olivia Price’s freekick came back off the post.

But the Wanderers finally got reward for their late endeavour as Crofts managed to lift her snapped shot over goalkeeper Georgia Boric.

Despite the shared points, the Wanderers remain in seventh and the Jets in fourth after three rounds.

“We created enough chances to win the game, even if it wasn’t the prettiest of football,” Wilson said.

“You know when you come here you have to show fight and character, and we did that, but we needed to be more clinical.

“It would have been nice to win and build some more momentum.

“We have a tremendous amount of growth left in us over the course of this season.”

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