Central Coast’s return to the A-League Women’s competition has been a dramatic one, with the Mariners going down 1-0 to Newcastle in an F3 derby that featured a rare double send-off.
Central Coast, who exited the competition in 2009 due to financial constraints, had a record and vocal home crowd of 5,735 to cheer them on in their first match of the season on Saturday, October 14.
There was action galore in a fiery second half as players from both sides went in hard, with the match featuring a total of 10 yellow cards.
Tempers boiled over in the 78th minute, resulting in Jets defender Alexandra Huynh and the Mariners’ English recruit Faye Bryson being red carded for their involvement in a push and shove.
Both players were already on yellow cards, and they were made to pay dearly for the feisty display.
The incident seemed to help Newcastle, who scored three minutes later when former Victory striker Melina Ayres jumped high to head home the winner.
The visitors hung on at the death to ensure they came away from Gosford with all three points in the opening game of the new ALW season.
It was a deserved win for the Jets who had 16 shots to five, including seven shots to one on target.
The Mariners lost goalkeeper Sarah Langman to injury in the lead-up to the match, with Central Coast signing Courtney Newbon as a last-minute replacement and thrusting her straight into the starting XI.
Newbon produced a heroic double-save in the 24th minute to deny Ayres in what proved to be the best chance of a dour first half.
The newly-signed keeper produced more good stops in the second half, but she was powerless to keep out Ayres’ powerful header following a pin-point cross from Lara Gooch.
At full time the fresh new Mariners team lost their first match back into the League since 2009, though the future looks bright for the team with so many great local supporters.