ALW Match Report: Western United 2-1 Central Coast Mariners

Western United A-League Women

Western United secured a gutsy 2-1 victory over Central Coast Mariners in the Liberty A-League Women on Saturday afternoon.

On a warm afternoon at North Hobart Oval, Jaclyn Sawicki and Hannah Keane brought the heat for the Green and Black, striking in the first half either side of Rola Badawiya’s equaliser.

The win was United’s third in a row in the Liberty A-League, provisionally halving the deficit to Melbourne City at the top of the league to three points with seven matches to play.

Western United Team News

There was just one change to the starting line-up for Western United as Stacey Papadopoulos was recalled at right-back, with Julia Sardo dropping to the bench.

Kat Smith stuck with the back-three that had been used in each of the past two matches, giving Natasha Dakic consecutive starts in defence for the first time in her career.

First Half

The match exploded to life almost immediately with barely a minute on the clock when Sawicki thumped in her first Western United goal.

It was a brilliant individual goal as she received the ball deep in the box, nutmegged one defender, skipped past another and buried her strike into the bottom corner on her opposite foot.

That goal had the Green and Black on a high to start the game but the Mariners hit back quickly as Rola Badawiya equalised in the sixth minute, finishing beyond Hillary Beall after an initial shot was blocked by Grace Maher and fell into her path.

United sought to stay on the front foot and Chloe Logarzo very nearly had an equally swift response, lunging at the back post to reach Stacey Papadopoulos’ cross but just failing to keep her effort beneath the crossbar.

It was a fast-paced, end-to-end game and on a big pitch in warm conditions in Hobart there was plenty of space to exploit at both ends.

United’s back three had to be alert to shut out a number of Mariners advances and once the Green and Black got the ball moving forward, the speed from Papadopoulos and Keiwa Hieda was causing the visitors problems.

It was the latter that got things moving forward with a burst down the left-wing before she was upended in the box. The referee awarded a corner rather than a penalty, and Alana Cerne was ever so close to a maiden goal of his own with her powerful header drawing a brilliant stop from Sarah Langman.

That period of pressure quickly brought about a second goal for the Green and Black as Adriana Taranto struck the crossbar but Keane was onto the rebound, getting the ball under control before blasting it over Langman’s head and into the roof of the net.

United continued to push forward with Logarzo behind much of the team’s good work in possession, and the defence held firm to ensure the lead remained United’s heading into the half-time break.

Second Half

After a high-energy first period and as the sun continued to come down on North Hobart Oval, the intensity dropped in the second half with Western United the happier of the two to slow things down.

That’s not to say that the Green and Black didn’t go looking for more goals, continuing to seek space in the wide areas and exploit the speed and numerical advantage in those channels.

While much of the attacking play came out wide, Logarzo remained the fulcrum of United’s possession patterns and was also crucial in winning the ball back in midfield to stifle Central Coast’s breakaways.

Chloe Logarzo continued her brilliant form with another top display

Keane also remained an important focal point in the final third, dealing expertly with a number of clearances and long balls, either bring them under her control or flicking them on to an onrushing teammate.

United’s mixture of defensive nous and the constant threat of any breakaway ensured that the Mariners were largely kept at arm’s length, but there were couple of close calls at the back.

Grace Maher did magnificently to recover and barge Badawiya off the ball in the box when a one-on-one opportunity presented itself and Beall was incredibly sharp off her line on a couple of occasions to smother any shot attempts.

Kyah Simon came off the bench and hit the post with a close-range header, and that was as close as the Mariners came as United managed the latter stages of the game to clinch a vital three points.