Incredible Liberty A-League return ends at semi-final stage

Central Coast Mariners’ incredible return season to the Liberty A-League fell just short of a fairytale ending as they bowed out at the Semi-Final stage.

A 1-1 draw on the day with Sydney at Leichhardt Oval was not enough to overturn Sydney’s 1-0 lead from the first leg.

Emily Husband made just one change after being mostly pleased with the first leg performance. Tiarna Karambasis dropped to the bench as Faye Bryson returned from a knock that kept her out last week.

Sydney came closest to opening the scoring early on, Princess Ibini rattling the crossbar after a neatly worked corner from Sydney.

The hosts did take the lead on the half hour mark as the ball fell kindly to Mackenzie Hawkesby who made no mistake, slotting past Dumont from close range.

It was a good response from the Mariners who went in search of an equaliser, Wurigumula and Bianca Galic both saw shots comfortably saved by Jada Whyman but there would be nothing the Sydney stopper could do about our equaliser minutes later.

Some neat play around the box from Kyah Simon, Wurigumula and Galic before the ball fell to Badawiya who struck a lethal finish into the bottom corner.

It was a bright start to the second half of the Mariners, Simon headed and Wurigumula fired wide.

The Mariners best chance came on 70 minutes with the ball dropping kindly to Paige Hayward but she lashed over the bar.

At the other end, the pace of Courtnee Vine and substitute Shea Connors’ were remaining a threat, but the Mariners were piling on the pressure at the other end.

The closest the team came to an equaliser was Annabel Martin’s header which was quite brilliantly saved by Whyman who leapt through the air to save.

Overall, Husband will be proud of her players’ effort until the end today and over the course of a memorable season. Not many would have given a returning team a chance of coming so close to reaching the Grand Final, but our Liberty A-League team have done the whole club proud.

And of course, we cannot wrap up the season without thanking you, the fans, who made the trip to Leichhardt today in numbers to try and help get us over the line, and have supported us everywhere this season. Thank you so much for your support, we already can’t wait to see you again next season.