Record smashed as City put one foot in the Liberty A-League Grand Final

Melbourne City have one foot in the Liberty A-League Grand Final after beating Newcastle Jets 3-0 in a hotly-contested Semi Final first leg in front of a record crowd in Maitland on Sunday afternoon.

Dario Vidosic’s Premiers picked up where they left off after enjoying the first week of the finals off, scoring inside five minutes through Daniela Galic before Emina Ekic doubled their advantage just after the hour mark and 15-year-old Shelby McMahon sealed the result.

It means City will head into the second leg at AAMI Park next Sunday with a huge three-goal cushion – made even more ominous when you consider the fact the Jets have NEVER registered a victory in this fixture across 16 attempts.

On a brighter note for the home side, a crowd of 6,836 smashed the Newcastle Jets’ record home women’s crowd by roughly 2,000, a special moment that reflects the strides made across the Liberty A-League this term.

Ryan Campbell’s Jets stormed into the finals on the back of the longest winning streak in their history, but they could not find a way through the visitors on what will go down as a record-breaking day for football in their region.

The Jets opted to stick with 21-year-old Tiahna Robertson despite Izzy Nino’s availability following her suspension; however, either goalkeeper would have been powerless to stop Galic netting the opening goal inside the opening five minutes.

It was a move that began with a goal kick for the home side, before Rhianna Pollicina rattled the crossbar and the rebound fell to the feet of the 17-year-old to tap home.

The Jets rallied, with the likes of Libby Copus-Brown and Lara Gooch heavily involved, but could not ignite their attack as talismanic forward Sarina Bolden could not find her influential best against a City defence who looked like they would be tough to breach.

Vidosic lost Karly Roestbakken to injury, but reigning City Player of the Year Julia Grosso was a perfect like-for-like replacement at left-back for the Premiers.

After a tight first half, it felt like an uphill battle for the Jets, even in front of a parochial home crowd as finals X-factor Melina Ayres waited on the bench.

Things soon opened up, but it was City who would take their chance as Laura Hughes wriggled in behind down the left and produced a beautiful delivery to put the ball on a platter for Ekic to double the lead.

It prompted both teams to go to their benches, with Bolden replaced by Ayres while while City introduced Junior Matildas captain McMahon and World Cup goal scorer Hannah Wilkinson, who was somewhat surprisingly left out of the starting XI.

The Jets put their bodies on the line with Emma Dundas and Sophie Hoban both shown yellow cards, but the tie was soon slipping away as McMahon showed a moment of composure beyond her years to add a third goal to the City tally.

“This is just class. What composure from such a young player,” Matildas great Alicia Ferguson said in commentary on Network 10 and Paramount+.

“She had a little look, knew she had no one on her, looked up, little dink up. 

“That is an absolute quality finish.”

That makes it two goals in two games for McMahon, whose first Liberty A-League goal was the strike that clinched the Premiership for City on March 31.

As the minutes ticked by, tensions became heated.

A push and shove between Alex Hunyh and Caitlin Karic led to the latter being booked and so too her coach Campbell, who cut a frustrated figure throughout the afternoon as his side watched their Grand Final hopes take a massive hit.

All eyes will now turn to next week’s second leg.

Barring a football miracle of sorts, it seems almost certain that Melbourne City will be hosting the Liberty A-League Grand Final against either Sydney FC or Central Coast Mariners.