All to play for! Semi-Final second leg Preview

Central Coast Mariners Women face the second leg of their Liberty A-League Semi-Final against Sydney FC on Saturday afternoon, 3pm kick-off at Leichhardt Oval.

A close-fought first leg at Our Paradise last week sees Sydney go into this game with a 1-0 advantage, but a place in the Grand Final is still all to play for and the Mariners are not short of reasons to be confident that a turnaround is possible.

The Mariners’ first leg performance was undoubtedly deserving of at least a draw. Jada Whyman was in unbeatable form in Sydney’s goal, as the Mariners piled pressure on but just couldn’t find the finishing touch.

Away form has been a specialty of Husband’s team this term. In the regular Liberty A-League season, no side took more points away from home and that included one of the season’s highlights, a 2-1 win at Leichhardt Oval, in a game that had absolutely everything, finishing with 10 players, Ash Irwin in goal and a 99th minute winner after a missed penalty…

Leichhardt in particular was a happy hunting ground, the Mariners taking six points from six, a 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix at Unite Round adding to that classic in January.

🧠 From the gaffer: “We have shown we can beat them”

“Reflecting on the game, there was multiple errors leading up to the goal where Sydney had opportunities and we have to minimise those in such important games, so we have worked massively on possession and on areas where we can hurt them.” Husband said.

Husband has no doubt of her side’s ability to overturn the 1-0 deficit despite Sydney’s credibility and experience in these matches. The Sky Blues are looking to make their seventh consecutive Liberty A-League Grand Final.

“There is a reason why they are where they are and have been successful team over the years. We have to consider that.” Husband said

We have shown we can beat them before and I have no doubt in my mind that we can beat them again.

Emily Husband ahead of our Semi-Final second leg clash with Sydney.

“We have to be better in moments in front of goal, we have to be more clinical, that’s what separates teams and that’s another area we’ve worked on ahead of the weekend.”

On returning to Leichhardt, Husband said:

“We’ve had two really positive results there. We have good feelings there and are looking forward to being back there.”

You can watch Emily’s full pre-match press conference here, where she also discusses her first season as a Head Coach in the A-League and the honour of being announced as Assistant Coach for the inaugural A-League All-Stars Women’s team.

🗣 Annabel Martin: “We know it will be a battle”

“We’re really excited. Finals football is a different game in terms of intensity and theres a lot riding on the game, we’re so excited for a chance to make the Grand Final.” Martin said.

Martin know there isn’t much to separate the two teams and is hoping for another enjoyable trip to Leichhardt in front of travelling Mariners support.

“We created chances but they did as well. Every game has been a battle and this will be no different, it’s just going to come down to which team takes their chances best.”

“We’ve had two great games there [at Leichhardt], Saturday will be no different. The crowd always gets around you, hopefully we have a lot of travelling fans and hopefully we get to celebrate with them at the end of the game.”

Martin has been a consistent performer wherever she has played across the backline this season, providing four assists individually whilst contributing to the second-best defence in the regular season.

“We are just a bunch of battlers back there, always putting our bodies on the line! We know it’s always going to be a fight against the attackers but we pride ourselves and not letting them score and keeping clean sheets.”

The team may have set their aim on the ultimate prize, but Martin insists they have looked no further than this weekend’s huge Semi-Final second leg:

“The culture we have created from scratch is pretty special. We want to be a team that’s hard to play against and we want success. We said we wanted to win the whole thing and we have the chance to go one step closer.”

“We are a ‘one week at a time’ team, we look at Sydney and completely focus on that. Hopefully the result comes and that means we’re in a Grand Final.” Martin said.

We know it will be a battle, Sydney FC are a quality team with quality players, going for their seventh straight Grand Final but hopefully we can stop that.

Annabel Martin on ending Sydney’s Grand Final streak.

Annabel also touched on her relationship with Husband and what she refers to as her ‘favourite’ season as a footballer so far. Watch the full press conference here.