ALW Match Report: Central Coast Mariners 1-1 Western United

Kiara De Domizio Western United A-League Women

Western United secured a home Elimination Final in the Liberty A-League Women after a gutsy 1-1 draw against Central Coast Mariners in the final game of the regular season.

The trademark resilience of the Western United women was on full display, fighting back from 1-0 down with 20 minutes remaining.

Kiara De Domizio ensured a night she would never forget, netting the equaliser with her maiden goal in professional football with a stunning left-footed finish into the top corner.

Western United will wait for the remaining matches to be played to find out its exact position on the table, but a place in the top four is guaranteed.

Western United Team News

Kat Smith was forced into two changes up front as Kahli Johnson and Hieda came in to replace American duo Hannah Keane and Catherine Zimmerman, the latter missing due to personal reasons.

Kiara De Domizio and Lucy Richards returned to the bench and there was a third successive start for young gun Avaani Prakash.

Melissa Taranto started in midfield, making her 50th appearance in the Liberty A-League.

First Half

Central Coast got off to a fast start on home soil and might have taken an early lead but for a fine save from Alyssa Dall’Oste to push Kyah Simon’s header onto the crossbar.

Two corner routines then nearly caught United out at the back post, but Smith’s side got through unscathed and sought to gain a foothold on proceedings.

Western United very nearly stole the lead soon after and were also denied by the crossbar when Faye Bryson sliced an attempted clearance up and onto the woodwork.

The Mariners’ early attacks helped them settle into the game and build the early momentum, making it difficult for United to string together any consistent spells of possession.

Rola Badawiya was a major threat for Central Coast with her pace in behind, while Prakash needed to make an exceptional recovery challenge to stop Bianca Galic from firing away a shot.

Dall’Oste made another smart save to tip a shot from Simon around the post before the Green and Black gradually began to work its way further into the game.

Johnson had a couple of shots from distance and Aimee Medwin very nearly unlocked the Central Coast defence with two through balls, but Sarah Langman was quickly off her line on both occasions to rid the danger for the hosts.

Second Half

Western United needed a bit more control in midfield, so Smith turned to Emma Robers to come on at half-time to solidify the midfield, replacing Johnson.

That substitution seemed to work as United found much greater comfort in possession and was able to limit the space for Central Coast to operate in going the other way.

Despite looking more accomplished on the ball, United still couldn’t really translate that into any meaningful openings in the final third.

The best chance fell to Tyla Jay Vlajnic after Medwin broke swiftly down the right wing and sent the ball across to the back post, but the Serbian international just couldn’t hit the target.

The longer the game went on, the more it appeared destined for a 0-0 draw until an unfortunate mistake from United allowed Central Coast in.

Substitute Annalise Rasmussen latched onto the ball and finished coolly past Alyssa Dall’Oste, leaving United with work to do in the final 20 minutes.

In yet another showing of the grit and determination of this Western United team, Smith’s side did not wilt under pressure and remained on the hunt for a point.

Prakash forced an excellent save at close quarters to deny Prakash but there was nothing Central Coast’s goalkeeper could do to keep De Domizio at bay minutes later.

After an incisive run through the middle of the pitch, Jaclyn Sawicki played a perfectly weighted through ball to the No.7 who timed her run expertly and stuck the ball right into the top corner for her first ever professional goal.

With just under 10 minutes to play, United managed the remainder of the contest but still had a couple of half chances at a winner as De Domizio had another effort sail over the bar.

The hard-fought point ensured that Western United would lock in a first-ever home Liberty A-League final and a first-ever home final at the Regional Football Facility, Tarneit.