Melbourne City had to come from behind but secured a point on the road against Central Coast on Friday night.
A scoreless first half was played out before Rola Badawiya gave the hosts the advantage, Rebekah Stott then scoring a stunning goal with little over 10 minutes to play to ensure we didn’t go home empty-handed.
Now with a week of training under their belts, we saw the return of our international representatives for our first-ever clash against the Mariners.
Julia Grosso made her return from a hamstring injury via the bench, but Kaitlyn Torpey remained in Melbourne to manage a niggle she’d been dealing with over the past weeks.
Starting XI: 44. Lysianne PROUlX (GK), 2. Leia VARLEY, 13. Rebekah STOTT (C), 5. Taylor OTTO, 3. Naomi CHINNAMA, 14. Laura HUGHES, 6. Leticia McKENNA, 10. Rhianna POLLICINA, 11. Emina EKIC, 24. Daniela GALIC, 17. Hannah WILKINSON.
Substitutes: 23. Melissa BARBIERI (GK), 7. Julia GROSSO, 15. Kiera MEYERS, 16. Karly ROESTBAKKEN, 19. Tijan McKENNA.
A perfect night for football in Gosford got off to a slow start, the first 20 minutes passing by without much action at either end.
Leia Varley was forced into making an important intervention on the goal line after a scuffed City clearance almost caused the ultimate danger in the 21st minute.
We began to build into things and 15 minutes later, a smart ball from Leticia McKenna in midfield found Hannah Wilkinson in space with the Football Fern then playing a smart cutback to Rhianna Pollicina who sent her shot into the crossbar.
Lysianne Proulx was called into action for the first time in the game a few moments before the break, making herself big and pulling off a great reflex save to deny Bianca Galic what looked to be a certain opener.
That opener would come not too long on the other side of half time though, Badawiya getting in behind and not giving Proulx much of a chance with a deft finish over the Canadian keeper.
The Mariners stepped the pressure up another gear after going ahead, Proulx being forced into a big double save five minutes later before Stott mopped up and cleared off the line.
An arm wrestle would ensue throughout the final half hour of action as the momentum changed hands on several occasions.
Emina Ekic went agonisingly close to drawing us level in the 64th, shooting just wide of the far post after she was well found by Tijan McKenna.
Our Captain stepped up in the best way possible though, taking things into her own hands and getting us back level just before we ticked into the final 10 minutes.
After taking a throw-in herself, Stott received the ball back from Leticia McKenna before taking a touch and unleashing the perfect strike into the top left corner from outside the box.
Despite six minutes of time being added on, neither side could find a winner and the clash would end at 1-1.
We return home to Melbourne next weekend to host the Victory in what is shaping up to be a massive night at AAMI Park for a Melbourne Derby doubleheader.