Jemma House blows the Wellington Phoenix down with late goal in A-League Women

Phoenix defender Mackenzie Barry dribbles out from the back against the Jets.

Ashley Feder/Getty Images

Phoenix defender Mackenzie Barry dribbles out from the back against the Jets.

Wellington Phoenix have been denied their second point of the A-League Women season after suffering a gut-wrenching 1-0 loss to the Newcastle Jets.

The Phoenix put in a strong defensive shift and pushed Newcastle for 80 minutes at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Monday, but the Jets managed to find a late winner through substitute striker Jemma House.

“I’m stoked with the turnaround between games and the performance. The girls really stepped up. But to concede in the late stages in the game is always a hard one to swallow, especially when I thought we had moments to nick it,” coach Gemma Lewis said.

“I’m a bit gutted, but I’m trying to keep the girls spirits up because actually it was a pretty good performance.

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“We were competitive in this game where we were struggling to even be competitive the last time we played them.”

House was the quickest to react when Cassidy Davis’s shot was tipped onto the crossbar by goalkeeper Lily Alfeld and bounced back into the field of play.

She bundled home from close-range to score with eight minutes remaining.

It was a cruel blow for the Phoenix, who put in a vastly-improved performance against a team that beat them 5-1 a fortnight ago.

Jets players celebrate the goal scored by Jemma House late in the game against the Phoenix.

Ashley Feder/Getty Images

Jets players celebrate the goal scored by Jemma House late in the game against the Phoenix.

The game was played behind closed doors as a precautionary measure after several Central Coast Mariners players tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the earlier fixture against the Phoenix men to be postponed.

Lewis said Monday’s result hurt just as much as the 5-1 defeat did.

“That’s the learning from these girls in this league; it takes one moment to switch off, one moment to have that little rest and you concede off it,” she said.

“It’s really hard when 98 per cent of the time they’ve done everything we’ve asked of them, but it doesn’t matter if you switch off for that 2 per cent because you’re still walking away with a loss.

“They’re gutted, they’re feeling it and as much as they were gutted with a 5-1 loss last time, I think this one is still stinging for them because they feel like they could have got something out of it.”

The Phoenix created a series of half chances through Kelli Brown, Chloe Knott and Grace Jale but never really troubled goalkeeper Georgina Boric despite registering six shots on target.

Brown’s chance was probably the pick of them and came after hard-working forward Ava Pritchard won two duels high up the pitch and laid the ball off for Brown on the left, but the winger’s shot was easily saved.

“Those are moments I struggle with a little bit because we’re not really testing them,” Lewis said. “They’re moments where we’re letting the opposition off.

“You can see in those moments where we get in front of goal it’s rushed. Under pressure, we aren’t turning those chances into meaningful chances, but often it’s because we don’t see those moments a lot.”

The Phoenix appealed for a penalty when Knott had her ankles clipped by Tiana Jaber with her back to goal midway through the second half following some great combination play between Alyssa Whinham and Zoe McMeeken, but referee Georgia Ghirardello saw no issue with it and waved play on.

“From where I was standing, it looked like there was a lot in the back and the ankles were clipped. Chloe was trying to hold her ground and she couldn’t.

“I’d have to look back on the footage, but I thought it should have been a penalty … it definitely did seem like contact in the box.”

The Phoenix face a quick turnaround with another tough game against Sydney FC on Thursday.

Newcastle Jets 1 (Jemma House 82’) Wellington Phoenix 0

HT: 0-0

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