Mariners held to draw after Rasmussen strike cancelled out

Central Coast Mariners ended the regular Liberty A-League season with a draw against Western United, at Our Paradise on Thursday evening.

18-year-old Annalise Rasmussen came off the bench and looked to have scored the winner with her third Liberty A-League goal of the season, but an 82nd minute equaliser saw Western leave with a point.

Emily Husband made two changes to the starting eleven from last week’s defeat in Melbourne, as Ash Irwin and Wurigumula were replaced by Paige Hayward and Peta Trimis, who was making her first start after returning from the AFC U20 Women’s Asia Cup.

A strong start from the Mariners saw them fashion a string of early chances. First, Kyah Simon saw her header come back off the bar in the early minutes, before Bianca Galic’s follow up was blocked. Annabel Martin’s delivery from the resulting corner then almost found the back of the net directly.

The woodwork was also struck at the other end as a sliced clearance from a Western free-kick crashed off Sarah Langman’s crossbar, before Izzy Gomez saw a long-range strike fly narrowly wide. The closest Western came in the first half.

A trademark surging run from Galic almost led to a shooting chance, but for a brilliant last-ditch tackle, before Simon threatened again in the air, this time flashing a header wide from another dangerous Martin cross.

Simon forced Alyssa Dall’Oste into action before the half hour mark, cutting inside onto her right foot and curling towards goal, but the Western stopper got down to her left to push the ball wide.

Langman wouldn’t have another save to make for the remainder of the half, but the Mariners number one had to be alert and quick off her line on a couple of occasions, bravely claiming the feet of Western forwards.

It was the visitors who went close first in the second half, Aimee Medwin broke down the right and crossed to the back post and Tyla Jay Vlajnic’s strike on the volley grazed the top of the crossbar on it’s way over.

Moments later at the other end, substitute Rasmussen almost made an instant impact but couldn’t provide the finishing touch on this occasion, just leaning back slightly and firing over after a good move by the Mariners.

It would be our academy graduate who did provide the breakthrough moment in the game, though. She had been on the pitch just ten minutes when she clinically finished past Dall’Oste to make it 1-0.

Langman would make two more key interventions for the Mariners, most notably a brave stop as she threw herself in the way of what looked a certain goal, but would be beaten on 82 minutes as Kiara De Dimizio finished with her left foot.

The point leaves the Mariners waiting for their final place on the Liberty A-League ladder to be confirmed by other results over the Easter Weekend.

A finals place is of course already confirmed in our return season, but whether we will have a home or away draw in our elimination match, is now dependent on Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory’s final day results.