Ayres forces high-flying Jets into ALW semi-finals

Melina Ayres has kept Newcastle's A-League Women fairytale alive, scoring in extra time to deliver the Jets a 4-2 elimination final win over Western United.

The Jets will face Melbourne City in a two-legged semi-final after Ayres' 101st-minute heroics pushed her side to victory at the Wyndham Regional Football Centre in Tarneit.

United twice came back from a goal down to force the game - which had a 20-minute delay when the power went out shortly before the hour mark - to extra time.

But the Jets ran out the game better and, after Sarina Bolden's earlier double, Ayres proved the hero before Sophie Hoban added a fourth to seal the deal in the 114th minute.

The Jets' fairytale is particularly impressive given they went on a late run to make finals amid ongoing uncertainty over the future of the club.

Newcastle took the lead when, under pressure from Alana Cerne, Bolden danced to the left, then onto her right and fizzed a wonderful strike past Alyssa Dall'Oste.

But local product Cerne responded 11 minutes later when she volleyed home a Tyla-Jay Vlajnic corner to level for Western United.

Catherine Zimmerman thought she had put the home side ahead, bursting forward on a wonderful solo run and rounding the goalkeeper to find the net in the 39th minute.

But her fine effort was chalked off for a foul in the build-up

Seven minutes later, the Jets were handed a penalty for a Jaclyn Sawicki handball, with Bolden rifling the spot-kick into the top corner.

Thirteen minutes after play restarted following the power outage, Libby Copus-Brown challenged Zimmerman for the ball and went into her back - with the striker coolly burying the resultant spot-kick.

Western United celebrate.
Western United celebrate Catherine Zimmerman's 68th-minute equaliser from the penalty spot.

Ayres had the chance to win it at the death but couldn't get her close-range effort on target.

Seven minutes into extra time it was United's turn to rue a missed chance, after Grace Maher went on a terrific run and squared the ball for Zimmerman at the back post but the striker couldn't get her effort on target.

Less than four minutes later, Mindy Barbieri brilliantly picked out Ayres, who ripped a left-footed strike across her body and past Dall'Oste for the winner.

“I was annoyed that I missed the one right at the end of normal time, so I really wanted to make up for that," Ayres said.

"The girls fought so well and allowed us to do what we do at the top, and Sarina coming in clutch again.

"I was happy to put one in after I missed the first one. The girls dug so deep. 

"We knew what we wanted to do today and got the job done.”

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