The Liberty A-League returned with a vengeance on Saturday night, with three entertaining games kicking off the 2023-24 season.
The season began with the return of Central Coast Mariners after a near 14-year absence – but in an F3 Derby against Newcastle Jets in Gosford, it was the visitors who spoiled the homecoming party with a 1-0 win.
Then, attention turned to Allianz Stadium where Sydney FC beat Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 in front of 11,471 fans – an all-time attendance record for a Liberty A-League standalone regular season fixture. That figure, combined with the 5,735 who attended the F3 Derby at Industree Group Stadium, shattered the all-time single-round attendance record in Liberty A-League history, just two games into the opening weekend of the season.
The Saturday action wrapped up at Macedonia Park, where a pair of stunning strikes to Susan Phonsongkham and Grace Jale settled a 2-0 win for the hosts over Western United.
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Central Coast Mariners 0-1 Newcastle Jets – Industree Group Stadium
After almost 14 years, Central Coast Mariners have returned to the Liberty A-League – but the club’s first game in the competition since 2009 ended in a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle Jets on Saturday evening.
More than 5,000 fans were in the house at Industree Group Stadium to witness the F3 Derby in Gosford which was decided off the head of Jets star Melina Ayres, with her 81st-minute goal the difference in a fiery contest that featured a red card to either side.
Sydney FC 2-0 Western Sydney Wanderers – Allianz Stadium
Sydney FC’s title defence is up and running, on a history-making night at Allianz Stadium where the Sky Blues notched a very comfortable 2-0 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers.
In front of a crowd of 11,471, a record for the Liberty A-League, the only jarring note for Ante Juric’s side was an apparently serious injury sustained by captain Nat Tobin who had to be carried off in the second half.
But goals from Kirsty Fenton and Fiona Worts hardly reflected the Sky Blues’ domination against a Wanderers side whose coach Robbie Hooker was only appointed days before the season started.
Perth Glory 2-0 Western United – Macedonia Park
A sensational strike from Football Fern Grace Jale on her club debut put the finishing touch on Perth Glory’s 2-0 win over Western United at Macedonia Park on Saturday night.
Glory were posed a stern Round 1 test with last season’s Grand Finalists Western coming to town, but second-half goals to Susan Phonsongkham and Jale – to go with some superb goalkeeping from Morgan Aquino – helped Alex Epakis’ side to an impressive opening-round victory in Perth.