Clinched! Matildas forward fuels finals-bound Mariners in comprehensive win over Canberra

A Rola Badawiya brace coupled with a classy display from Kyah Simon helped Central Coast Mariners thrash Canberra United 4-1 to secure finals football in their first season back in the Liberty A-League.

China striker Wurigumula opened the scoring after just four minutes in Gosford, where a crisp strike from Rola Badawiya made it 2-0 after six minutes on Sunday.

Having laid on both goals, Matildas forward Simon then got in on the act, converting from the spot to make it 3-0 before Badawiya put the result beyond any doubt prior to half-time.

Canberra did have their fair share of chances after the break and pulled one back late on through Nickoletta Flannery however the win had long since been secured by the home side.

The result not only guarantees the Mariners a spot in this year’s Finals Series but it also moves them up into fourth spot on the ladder and within touching distance of the league leaders.

As for Canberra, Njegosh Popovich’s side suffered their 10th loss of the campaign and with three games left in their season, remain locked in a battle with Adelaide United to avoid the wooden spoon.

The Mariners hit the ground running at Industree Group Stadium and took the lead in the fourth minute.

Robbing Sofia Christopherson of the ball, Simon then played strike partner Wurigumula in on goal and while the Chinese star was denied by Canberra keeper Coco Majstorovic at the first attempt she promptly fired home the rebound to make it 1-0.

Having already assisted the opener, Simon then turned provider once more, this time flicking the ball into the path of Badawiya who fired a low shot across Majstorovic and into the far corner to make it 2-0, a goal which prompted jubilant scenes down by the corner flag as half the team celebrated by cracking out the row boat celebration.

Things would soon get even worse for the league’s bottom side and you guessed it, Simon was involved once again. Referee Caitlin Williams pointed to the spot after Simon’s initial shot hit an outstretched Canberra arm inside the box and the Matildas forward then coolly slotted the resulting penalty to make it 3-0.

Two minutes later it was 4-0. A ball in from the Mariners left by Jazmin Wardlow found Badawiya at the back post and the forward took one touch to steady herself before lashing the ball beyond Majstorovic to seal an emphatic win for the home side before the half was out.

With the Mariners home and hosed the away side did try and restore some pride in the second half and came close to scoring on numerous occasions, none more so than in the 70th minute.

Flannery’s cross to the edge of the box was hit first time on the volley by Ruby Nathan and just as it appeared to be heading towards the top corner, Dumont produced a stunning save to tip the ball around the post.

The Mariners custodian then reacted well to tip a free kick over the bar and while Flannery did bag a late consolation goal for the visitors in the 87th minute, Emily Husband’s side cruised home to an emphatic victory in Gosford, one that moves them up into fourth position on the Liberty A-League ladder.