GIVEN an opportunity to show their wares in front of a national level opponent, the local North Coast Football (NCF) 16-17 years combination shone like a beacon.
Tackling the Newcastle Jets W-League squad in a pre-season friendly ahead of the W-League summer, the local teenagers played some creative football to record a 5-3 win over the Jets.
The North Coast Football team actually stretched their lead to 5-1 at one stage but Newcastle coach Wayne O’Sullivan was happy with the hit out.
The only downside for the visiting Jets, who had a three-day stay at Camp Rabbitoh, was a nasty gash to American import Niki Cross late in the match.
Cross later received seven stitches in the skin over her knee cap, but suffered no other damage and should be back on the pitch in a fortnight, perhaps even in time for the Jets’ season opening clash against Adelaide on November 6.
A small but vocal crowd sat on the hill and watched as the two teams played a fast-paced and entertaining match in humid conditions.
The clash was halted for a drinks break midway through each period, at which point O’Sullivan interchanged his goalkeepers Alison Lipsher and Alison Logue so they both played a half each.
Lipsher has only been in the country a week and was given an almighty welcome downunder as the ball hit the back of the net just 18 seconds after kickoff.
The local squad started by taking the ball all the way to the six-yard box before Sammy Abdulrazak hit a beautiful volley which was virtually unstoppable.
It was not the start the Jets were hoping for, but the Newcastle equaliser 20 minutes later more than made up for it.
Tara Andrews drilled the ball from outside the 18 and found the top left corner of the net.
From there until the 80th minute NCF took control of the contest.
The Jets played well in the midfield with Cross in particular, until she suffered the injury late, a part of nearly every play.
However, the visitors simply could not find a way past the sheer speed of the NCF boys in both attack and defence.
NCF also had two girls in the pack in Sarah Marsden and Keria Plumbe, who both played for Northern NSW in this year’s national titles. Both girls contributed well.
However, it was Josh Rees who did most of the damage up front hitting a hat-trick of goals in the 40th, 44th and 60th minutes.
Goalkeeper Tom Sherwood also found his way onto the scoresheet as referee Ellie Hayes awarded a penalty in the 47th minute, which Sherwood calmly slotted home.
With 10 minutes remaining and trailing 5-1, the Jets came home strongly as the young NCF squad looked to tire in the heat.
Kara Mowbray scored a neat goal to make it 5-2 before Andrews converted a late penalty.