Brisbane Roar Women have completed a stunning season turn-around to grab a place in the Finals Series of the 2015/16 Westfield W-League.
The Roar Women today played a scoreless draw against Newcastle Jets Women at Hunter Stadium in their final regular season game to clinch fourth spot on the ladder.
Brisbane will now play undefeated Premiers Melbourne City in a Westfield W-League semi-final at Melbourne's AAMI Park next Monday, 25 January (3.30pm KO Qld time).
Brisbane were at one stage second-last on the table after a horror mid-season run of five losses.
But three wins in four games going into today's match set up the scenario where the Roar Women only had to ensure they didn't lose by two goals against the Jets Women to book a semi-final spot.
The achievement was extra sweet for the Roar Women after they missed the Finals Series for the first time last season.
They also had to rebuild their squad this year after the off-season departure of several prominent players, including Matildas.
"We have reached one of our objectives so I am super proud," said Roar Women Coach Belinda Wilson.
"The effort that the girls have put in this season, and the pre-season . . . where we last year and where we have come back from this year and even with the slump we had and make the top four . . . the girls did themselves really proud."
Despite the scoreline the match was entertaining and the Roar Women had to withstand sustained pressure from the home side, who adopted a nothing-to-lose attitude and threw players forward, particularly in the final stages.
Outstanding defence by the Roar Women, led by player of the match Clare Polkinghorne, ensured the Jets had only a few scoring opportunities and never really looked like getting the two goals they needed to steal the finals berth off Brisbane.
The Roar Women also had their chances and had two goals disallowed for offside.
The Roar Women put the ball into the Jets net twice but both were disallowed for offside. The second one was clear-cut but Amy Chapman must have been only a hair's breadth past the line before she tucked away Angie Beard's cross in the 26th minute.
After receiving a yellow card in the 30th minute, Roar Women midfielder Katrina Gorry rode her luck to the absolute limit with a scything tackle on her Jets opponent in the 52nd minute.
Roar Women Coach BELINDA WILSON: " We got we we need to get through to the top four. Credit to Newcastle, they played a tough game and were hard to break down."
On playing undefeated Premier Melbourne City in Monday's semi-final: "If you are going to go into the semis, you want to be playing a good team and Melbourne City are.
"They have shown that throughout the season. They have also shown that they are a team that you can frustrate and you can play.
"We have to play a smart game and play our game and make sure we don't give them any opportunities to bury."
Roar Women Captain and PLayer of the Match CLARE POLKINGHORNE: "It was a physical game we knew they were going to be up for the challenge and they had nothing to lose. We defended really well, just lacked a bit of quality in the final third.
We put a strong focus on preparing the way we usually do and we did that this week. A strong defensive performance and we just need to tidy a few things up for next week."
There's no easy games in Finals football and every team is beatable. The Roar Women will take a lot out of their gutsy 1-0 loss to the Premiers at Broadbeach earlier this month and will be looking to stage the upset of the season in next Monday's semi-final.
Westfield W-League Round 14, Newcastle Jets vs Brisbane Roar, at Hunter Stadium, Sunday, 17 January
Newcastle Jets 0
Brisbane Roar 0
Brisbane Roar Women: 1. Haley KOPMEYER (gk), 3. Amy CHAPMAN (19. Sofie PERSSON, 88'), 4. Clare POLKINGHORNE, 6. Angela BEARD, 7. Gabe MARZANO (12. Alisha FOOTE 68'), 10. Katrina GORRY, 11. Kirsty YALLOP, 13. Tameka BUTT, 14. Summer O'BRIEN, 15. Ruth BLACKBURN, 17. Emily GIELNIK (8. Ayesha NORRIE 80')
Unused substitutes: 20. Carrie SIMPSON (gk).
Yellow cards: Katrina GORRY 30', Kirsty YALLOP 60'; Red cards: Nil
Newcastle Jets Women: 1. Hannah SOUTHWELL (gk), 2. Sophie NENADOVIC (15. Elizabeth COPUS-BROWN 73'), 3. Georgia YEOMAN-DALE (18. Clare WHEELER 71'), 4. Megan OYSTER, 5. Caprice DYDASCO, 6. Cassidy DAVIS, 7. Gema SIMON (c), 9. Tara ANDREWS, 12. Chloe LOGARZO, 14. Brooke MILLER, 17. Jenna KINGSLEY (10. Rhali DOBSON 64').
Unused substitutes: 20. Claire COELHO (gk)
Yellow cards: Nil; Red cards: Nil
Referee: Kelly Jones