The Liberty A-League returned this weekend to mark the start of the new season as Sydney FC look to defend their crown. They kickstarted their campaign with a strong 2-0 win in the Sydney derby but the same couldn’t be said for the returning Central Coast Mariners.
Let’s dive into the first week of action in Australia with our reporters Bethany Fisher and Lee Witney providing updates on each game.
Central Coast Mariners 0-1 Newcastle Jets
As the curtain finally came up on the A-League, the Central Coast Mariners made their long-awaited return to the Australian top flight. Following their 14-year absence, the hosts were keen to get their campaign underway as they welcomed Newcastle Jets. After a quiet first half, the tie came to a thrilling conclusion with a dramatic final 20 minutes.
Second bookings for Faye Bryson and Alexandra Hugh saw both sides reduced to ten players with 78 minutes on the clock. A late winner from Melina Ayres handed the visitors all three points as the striker nodded the ball home.
Sydney FC 2-0 Western Sydney Wanderers
Last season’s Premiers and Champions Sydney FC got their double defence underway with a routine victory in the Sydney Derby. The tie played out in front of a league record-breaking crowd of 11,471 at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
The Sky Blues took the lead after 11 minutes when a failed clearance from Alexia Apostalakis saw the ball fall to Kirsty Fenton on the edge of the box. The Sydney defender let rip with a first-time volley from the edge of the box that keeper Kaylie Collins couldn’t keep out despite her best efforts.
Ten minutes before half time, the hosts got the second goal their first-half dominance deserved when Fiona Worts latched onto a great ball from Princess Ibini and lofted the ball first time over the onrushing Collins. There was, however, a sour note to an otherwise routine evening for Sydney when skipper Nat Tobin left the field on a stretcher.Embed from Getty Images
Perth Glory 2-0 Western United
Perth Glory got their 23/24 campaign off to a winning start as they beat last season’s surprise package Western United 2-0 at Macedonia Park. After a goalless first half, Perth took the lead just after the restart courtesy of Susan Phonsongkham’s wonderfully curled finish from the top right of the Western box.
The visitors nearly equalised just after the hour when Hannah Keane’s free-kick smashed the underside of the bar. The hosts made sure of the points with 10 minutes left when New Zealand international Grace Jale hit an absolute pile driver from distance that flew over Western keeper Alyssa Dall’Oste and into the roof of the net.Embed from Getty Images
Melbourne City 1-0 Wellington Phoenix
A single goal handed Melbourne City all three points as they kicked their campaign off with a win. The hosts controlled the match, often leaving Wellington defending for extended periods with limited counter-attacking opportunities. Although the Blues had several good chances, the deadlock wouldn’t be broken until the 73rd minute. The Wellington keeper saved Pollicina’s initial shot, but Hannah Wilkinson easily slotted home the follow-up.
Adelaide United 4-4 Canberra United
In an eight-goal thriller, Adelaide and Canberra United played out a 4-4 draw at the Coopers Stadium. Three penalties alongside a late injury-time goal saw the balance of the game frequently shift throughout the 90 minutes. Despite conceding an early penalty in the ninth minute, Adelaide were in the lead at the break with goals from Vesna Milivojevic and Michelle Hayman, nullifying Alana Jancekvski’s spot-kick.
The second half saw two more penalties awarded with Mariah Lee and Nickoletta Flannery each converting their effort. Adelaide’s Hannah Blake scored in the 65th minute, but Milivojevic’s second goal swiftly restored Canberra’s lead.
A late stoppage-time goal from Emilia Murray would be enough to snatch the hosts a single point from the nail-biting tie.Embed from Getty Images
Melbourne Victory 1-2 Brisbane Roar
Brisbane Roar’s season got off to an ideal start after an impressive away win to Melbourne Victory on Sunday. The Roar took an early second-half lead when Sharn Freier’s cross in from the left was swept home at the back post by Grace Kuilamu.
The visitors doubled their lead with 20 minutes left when Jenna McCormick powered home a header from the edge of the six-yard box after climbing highest to meet a Hollie Palmer free-kick. Victory set up a grandstand finish in stoppage time when Ella O’Grady slotted home however, Brisbane held on to come away with all three points.