It’s the time of year when clubs look towards the home stretch of the season and The Football Sack critiques each club’s progress so far.

Do you agree with our assessments made in the return of our January report cards?

Semester Summary: The first half of the Jets’ 2018/19 season has been a turbulent mixed bag. The side have found it difficult to maintain a consistent rhythm, and find themselves in seventh place, but only two points off a finals spot.

It has been a tale of performances vs. results for the Jets, and they have struggled to regularly convert the former into the latter. Despite some inconsistency, they’ve played bright and positive football and will have their eyes firmly set on making a push for the finals in the second half of the season.

Their most recent draw against the defending champions away in Perth (with 10 players for most of the match) is a promising sign of a team full of solidarity with a point to prove.

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Areas of excellence: There have been a number of positives to take away from the early stages of Newcastle’s W-League campaign. The quality of recruitment and the depth of this squad has been very useful.

Deans has a wealth of selection options for every game, which means the players have to compete and earn their spot in the team. The result of this is a team that feels more cohesive and reliable. The side doesn’t feel chucked together at all, and there’s a real sense of unity in the way the team plays.

In attack, Katie Stengel has been the focal point. The ball seems to stick to her feet, and she has an incredible ability to hold up the ball and bring surrounding attackers like Cortnee Vine and Taylor Smith into play.

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She’s bagged only two assists from 16 key passes in six games! She averages 2.7 key passes per game, and if her surrounding attackers were able to convert a few more of those chances, the Jets would be in a far better position.

Clare Wheeler has been a stand out in midfield. She has this relentless work ethic and provides industry and legs in midfield. A lot of her work is done quietly behind the scenes, but Wheeler has been so effective in maintaining the tempo and energy in the middle of the park.

Britt Eckerstrom has been rock solid as always between the sticks, and put on an absolute masterclass in the draw away against Perth.

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Areas in need of improvement: There is no reason why this Jets side shouldn’t be further up the ladder, so what’s let them down?

Concentration has been a problem. The Jets have shown a tendency to lose focus in crucial moments in both defence and attack. In defence, the Jets are no stranger to conceding cheap and unnecessary goals. In attack, too many easy opportunities (even open nets on occasion) have been squandered.

Consistency has also been lacking. The brevity of the W-League season means that stringing together results is essential, and the Jets have only managed consecutive wins once.

If the Jets are able to iron out these shortcomings and inconsistencies, they’ll be a genuine threat and have a real chance of playing in the finals. They could use a stroke of luck too because they’ve seen the wrong side of the coin a few times this season.

Top student: Taylor Smith has been a revelation on the right hand side. Her pace and athleticism have traumatised left backs across the W-League all season. She’s always the first to make a positive run in behind, and has linked up well with Stengel.

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Sadly, Smith suffered a ruptured ACL in the match against Perth on Sunday, which is a massive blow for both her and the Jets. Smith will be unable to play for the rest of the season, and she’ll be dearly missed because she was an outstanding outlet that added so much energy and dynamism to the team.

Let’s hope for a smooth and speedy recovery.

Class clown: One of the more disappointing performers of the season so far has been Larissa Crummer. She’s been very inconsistent. At times, Crummer has played well and has looked like a commanding physical presence at centre back.

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However, she has also played with hesitation and has made a few costly errors. Her transition from striker to centre-back was never going to be completely seamless, and she has made a handful of mistakes. She’s learning her craft defensively, and it’s clear to see the blueprint of an outstanding international defender if she’s able to iron out the errors.

Grade: C+

Outlook: For Jets fans, there are more than enough reasons to be optimistic about the second half of the season. So far, inconsistency has been the enemy for Newcastle. Deans has built a solid framework for success, but is yet to see the full potential of his squad.

If the Jets are able to get into a rhythm and start stringing together a few results, they’ll go from seventh to genuine finals contenders in no time. All the ingredients are there, and they’re only two points off fourth.

Taylor Smith’s injury is a devastating blow, but Deans has enough depth to patch things up and mount a genuine challenge for the second half of the season.

Feature Image Credit: Sproule Sports Focus

Statistics from Newcastle Jets and W-League websites

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Intern at The Football Sack covering The Newcastle Jets A-League and W-League home matches!