Super sub Annalise Rasmussen has fired Central Coast Mariners to a huge 1-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix at Industree Group Stadium.
With the first ever meeting between the Liberty A-League’s two newest teams heading for a goalless draw, Rasmussen slammed home the all-important winner in the 76th minute to secure all three points for the Mariners on Saturday evening.
It’s Gosford-born Rasumssen’s first goal in the competition, after initially joining the club as an 11-year-old through their NPL setup.
Rasmussen then signed with their women’s team as their inaugural player ahead of their return to the A-League Women’s competition this season.
The win extends the Mariners’ undefeated streak to three straight games, with the win being their first at home since their November 27 2009.
It did, however, come at a cost with Jazmin Wardlow forced from the field with a leg injury in the dying moments after a strong challenge from Mariana Speckmaier.
Meanwhile, the Phoenix’s three game winning streak is over, and they will also be sweating on the fitness of Hope Breslin who came off following a nasty collision and was seen with swelling above her eye.
“She’s in reasonably good spirits considering…it was a pretty nasty knock,” Phoenix coach Paul Temple said post-game.
“We’ll have to reassess that and see how she is through the week. Not looking too nice in terms of the injury, but she seems to be okay which is good.”
In a tight first-half, Wellington had an early shout for a penalty when Speckmaier went to ground inside the box after a challenge from Taren King, but referee Azusa Sugino waived play on.
Emily Husband’s side had the first real opportunity to open the scoring late in the first-half, when Bianca Galic fired just wide of the post with a long range strike.
Moments later, Wellington had a great opportunity of their own, after Emma Main was played through by Macey Fraser before forcing a smart stop from Courtney Newbon.
Husband made two changes to chase the result, bringing on Rasmussen and Faye Bryson and the duo helped swing the trajectory of the contest in their favour.
Four minutes following the double change, Wurigumula blasted just over the bar after some brilliant work down the right flank to get herself in a scoring position.
Central Coast would have their moment with time running out.
The Mariners broke in transition through Isobel Gomez, before the ball found its way to Wurigumula who set up an unmarked Rasumssen to blast home the winner.
There was a moment of controversy after Speckmaier caught Wardlow on the leg with a late challenge. However, referee Sugino opted against handing out a booking after a lengthy conversation with one of her assistants, despite the American defender being forced from the field with injury.
Minutes later, King caught Speckmaier with a tackle of her own on the edge of the penalty area, receiving a yellow card in a fiery end to the contest.
Wellington continued to push for an equaliser as Manaia Elliott forced a strong save from Newbon in second-half stoppage time, but Paul Temple’s side was unable to find the all-important leveller.
The talking point
Saturday evening’s contest had plenty of feeling in it, especially in the dying embers of the match, following a strong challenge from Wellington’s Mariana Speckmaier.
The Phoenix attacker caught Mariners defender Jazmin Wardlow on the leg with a late challenge.
Wardlow was forced from the field in the arms of trainers, unable to see out the remainder of the contest due to the blow. Referee Azusa Sugino, however, didn’t issue a booking to Speckmaier, much to the chagrin of the Mariners technical area.
Moments later, Taren King caught Speckmaier with a strong challenge of her own, receiving a yellow card for her tackle to cap off a fiery second-half in Gosford.
Earlier in the game, however, Wellington had a call for a penalty after Speckmaier went to ground following another challenge by King.
“I looked at it quickly on the iPad on the bench and I felt like that was a penalty live and I felt like it was a penalty when I watched it back,” Temple said.
“She’s through on goal and that was a huge, huge moment which didn’t go our way.
“Those things sometimes they go for you and sometimes they don’t, and today they didn’t see to go for us. That was a real momentum killer.”
It was an unforgettable night for Annalise Rasumssen.
The 18-year-old scored her first goal in Mariners colours to wrap up the win and the club’s first since returning to the competition. Rasmussen has been part of the club since joining their academy as an 11-year-old, before becoming their inagural signing ahead of their return to the competition.
She has featured in all four of their matches this season, starting in their opening game before being relegated to a substitute role in each of her last three appearances. However, her performance will give Emily Husband plenty to mull over heading into next week after such an impressive showing on Saturday evening.
What this means
Central Coast move into fifth spot on the standings for the time being, and will have a game-in-hand on most sides (except Sydney FC, Canberra United and Western Sydney Wanderers) at the end of this weekend.
Emily Husband’s side has shown continuous signs of growth this season, with the win against the high-flying ‘Nix being the most impressive of the lot yet.
They will now head on the road for consecutive away matches either side of the international break at the start of December, first facing Melbourne Victory next Sunday.
Meanwhile, Paul Temple’s side remain in third for now, but could fall as low as fifth by the end of the round.
Wellington will return to New Zealand for back-to-back home matches, with first-placed Perth Glory coming to town next Saturday.