It has been more than a decade since Sydney FC Women have locked horns with the Central Coast Mariners and on Sunday evening, they will meet for the first time since December 2009.
On that occasion, Leena Khamis scored the winner for the Sky Blues with the Mariners folding after that and only returning to the competition this season.
Ante Juric’s side haven’t quite hit the heights that their double winning season did last campaign but plenty of injuries and changeover in players haven’t helped that fact.
They have a quick turnaround for this clash having taken on Canberra United on Wednesday night at Leichhardt Oval where Aideen Keane’s first league goal in Sky Blue was cancelled out by Michelle Heyman.
As has been the story this season for Sydney FC, the opposition team defensively has had a very impressive game. Chloe Lincoln was the next to achieve that feat, making 8 saves, with two being very good ones against Mackenzie Hawkesby and Charlotte McLean in the second half.
If they are wanting to get a positive result out of this match, they will need to improve their shooting accuracy in front of goal with the Sky Blues having the second most shots on target per game on average (6.7) this season, with only ladder leaders Melbourne City above them (7.2). City have scored 23 goals compared to Sydney FC’s 11, however defensively the Sky Blues have kept the most clean sheets and leaked the least goals with 7, with Perth Glory next best on 10.
As for the Mariners, with many tipping them to struggle this season, they have certainly punched above their weight and find themselves just outside the top six.
At home this season, they have taken to the Central Coast atmosphere and recorded a win against the Wellington Phoenix and held the leaders Melbourne City to a 1-1 draw, so the task ahead of Sydney FC will be a tough one.
Their last outing was a 2-1 loss to Perth Glory at home in front of a bumper crowd on New Year’s Eve in which a first half defensive mistake put them behind and they struggled to get past Morgan Aquino in the Glory net in the second half.
With momentum with the Mariners, Alex Epakis’ side went up the other end and scored to silence the home crowd and made it an up-hill battle to get something from the game. Former Sydney FC player Rola Badawiya pulled one back for the Yellow and Navy but they were unable to find another way past Aquino who finished the match on 10 saves.
The Mariners’ marquee signing this season was Matilda Kyah Simon however due to injury, she is still yet to feature at all. She was named in their extended squad but is unlikely to see minutes.
As for Sydney FC and the injury front, it has been a frustrating list that stretches the squad’s depth. Nat Tobin has been ruled out for the season with an ACL and Fiona Worts has also been sidelined for three months with a torn lateral collateral ligament. Lucy Johnson also remains injured with ligament damage in the ankle and Shea Connors is expected back in 4-6 weeks following a broken foot.
Matildas star Cortnee Vine missed the midweek hosting of Canberra United, however she could return against the Mariners this Sunday. In his post match interview, Ante Juric was hopeful to see her in Gosford on Sunday after she watched from the sidelines at Leichhardt Oval.
This will be the fourth meeting between these two sides with Sydney FC currently leading the match-up 2-1. Leena Khamis and Michelle Heyman are top of the goalscoring charts with two goals each in this fixture.
Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC
Liberty A-League Round 11
Sunday 7th January 2024
Industree Group Stadium, Gosford, NSW
Kick Off: 6:00pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Play
Tickets: Click Here