Sarina Bolden enjoyed a Newcastle Jets debut to remember, scoring a brace only hours after her signing was announced by the club in a highly-entertaining 4-3 victory over Canberra United at McKellar Park.
Michelle Heyman fired Canberra into the lead after only 70 seconds, but the Jets fired back with two goals in eight minutes through Bolden and star midfielder Emily van Egmond.
Vesna Milivojevic brought the home side level after her free-kick took a slight deflection on the way through to goal, before Bolden added another to restore the Jets’ lead minutes later.
Lauren Allan doubled their lead in the 81st minute with her first goal of the season, but Milivojevic’s second goal of the game and fifth of the season created a nervous finish for the Jets – who were able to hold firm and come away with three points.
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It’s Newcastle’s first win since their Round 1 victory over Central Coast Mariners and their first against Canberra in six attempts, building off their impressive performance against Melbourne City a week prior.
Meanwhile, Canberra – who were in action for the first time since November 4 – are still winless to start the season, taking home only a point from their opening four games.
Unfortunately, the loss came at an added cost as Heyman was forced from the field in the second-half after sustaining a head knock. Thankfully, the Liberty A-League’s greatest-ever goalscorer did come off the field under her own power.
Canberra burst out of the blocks and took the lead within seconds. Heyman broke in behind the Jets defence after a great long-ball from Nickoletta Flannery and buried the opener, her 97th goal in the Liberty A-League.
Newcastle handed a start to new signing Bolden only hours after her arrival was announced by the club, and her impact was immediate. The Philippines international latched onto a pass from Van Egmond and slotted the ball past Chloe Lincoln to bring the scores level in the eighth minute.
Van Egmond would soon go from provider, to scorer, getting on the end of a quickly taken free-kick from Cassidy Davis and looping the ball over an on-rushing Lincoln to give the Jets the lead.
The home side, however, continued to threaten back the other way and probably should have brought the scores level, as Vesna Milivojevic’s first effort from a Sasha Grove cross was saved by Isobel Nino, before Heyman blasted over on the rebound.
Newcastle kept the Canberra defence on notice, with Davis this time trying her luck from range, but being denied by the crossbar.
Canberra responded brilliantly after half-time and it was none other than Milivojevic to bring McKellar Park to its feet. The Serbian international’s free-kick from the edge of the area took a slight deflection, beating Nino and bringing the scores level.
However, once more, Canberra’s good work was undone as they were opened up defensively again. Davis once more caught the Canberra defence napping, playing through Bolden who chipped Lincoln to give the Jets the lead once more.
Newcastle doubled their lead with 10 minutes remaining as Sophie Hoban played a brilliant pass to Allan, who made no mistake with a brilliant finish.
Allan’s goal looked certain to be the sealer, but a late flurry from Canberra created a grandstand finish, with Milivojevic adding her second goal of the game after her long-range shot went through the hands of Nino and into the back of the net.
But the Jets were able to stay firm throughout the remainder of the seven minutes of second-half stoppage time to come away with the win.
THE TALKING POINT
Newcastle’s new look attack was humming on Sunday afternoon. Spearheaded by new signings Sarina Bolden and Emily Van Egmond, the Jets attack were simply too strong for Canberra’s defence, seemingly posing a threat every single time they went forward.
Bolden – whose signing was only announced on Sunday afternoon – looks like a shrewd pick-up by the Jets, who will be hoping to build some momentum off the back of the win against Canberra.
Van Egmond showed her class in the second of a four game guest stint, adding a goal and an assist. Lara Gooch and Lauren Allan were just as dangerous up and down the flanks.
The Jets were once again without star striker Melina Ayres, who continues to deal with injury issues this season and her return, along with the Bolden pick-up could be all the ingredients needed to spark them up the standings.
However, there’s no denying Van Egmond will leave a gaping hole when she departs, putting more onus on the aforementioned duo and the likes of Gooch, Allan and further back Cassidy Davis and co to carry the midfield.
What a day for Sarina Bolden!
The Phillipines international’s signing was only announced hours before kick-off of the clash with Canberra United, and it only took eight minutes for her to make an immediate impact. Bolden brought the scores level minutes after Michelle Heyman’s opener, before restoring their lead in the second-half with a sensational goal.
Her performance was a stark reminder of her quality, that she has shown on our shores in both the Liberty A-League with Western Sydney Wanderers and at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Newcastle go into the break only goal difference outside the top six, getting a much-needed win after an up-and-down run of performances.
The Jets will return to action against Sydney FC on December 10 at No.2 Showground, which will be a great test for Gary Van Egmond’s side after a week off.
Meanwhile, Canberra are still searching for their first win of the new season, taking only a point from their opening four games. Njegosh Popovich’s side have shown plenty going forward but are leaking goals too easily, conceding 13 despite scoring 10.
The break is the last thing Canberra would want after playing their first game in three weeks against the Jets. Their clash with Brisbane Roar on December 10 at home will be only their second match in the space of 35 days.