Western Mariners must learn to win key moments: Ward

ON THE BALL: Jasmin Courtenay was strong for Western NSW Mariners in the NPL2 opening round on Sunday. Photo: PHIL BLATCH
ON THE BALL: Jasmin Courtenay was strong for Western NSW Mariners in the NPL2 opening round on Sunday. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

Winning the big moments is something Western NSW Mariners FC coach Josh Ward is hoping his side can master over the course of 2018 after a tough opening round loss against the University of NSW FC on Sunday afternoon.

Playing in hot conditions at the Hensley Athletic Field at Eastgardens in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Western opened its return to the Football NSW Women’s National Premier League 2 campaign with a 1-0 defeat against the hosts.

University of NSW striker Amy Altman banged home the only goal of the match, which was played on a synthetic surface, edging her side ahead in what was a torrid round one fixture.

In his first term mentoring the Mariners’ open women’s side, Ward is hopeful his team can build into the season and learn to win the key moments of the match, something all the best teams across the competition do consistently.

“The round one game was a tight, tense affair,” the Orange-based Ward said.

“Our girls worked extremely hard in 31-degree heat on a wide synthetic pitch.

“Their willingness to work hard for one another was outstanding.

“The key moments in the game were won by UNSW which is something we will be looking to improve as the season progresses.”

The Mariners play their first home game of the season on Sunday at Lithgow’s Marjorie Jackson Field against the Gladesville Ravens.

The Mariners are in their first NPL2 season after winning promotion from State League – along with UNSW, APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC, SD Raiders FC and St George FC – which means the Western side is in the exact position Gladesville was at the start of 2017.

The Ravens moved up to NPL2 after the 2016 State League season – in which they finished fifth – and finished last with just one win on the board.

They’ve matched that already in 2018 with last weekend’s league-opening victory against SD Raiders – also a 1-0 victory – and considering the side has had an extra 12 months to find its feet in the higher division, Ward is expected Gladesville to land in Lithgow full of running.

The key moments in the game were won by UNSW which is something we will be looking to improve as the season progresses.

Western coach Josh Ward

But he says if the likes of goalkeeper Jessica Daymond, midfielder Jasmin Courtenay and striker Larissa Kilby can maintain the sort of form they’ve started the season in, then Western’s sure to test its Sydney-based opposition.

“Jessica pulled off some great saves,” Ward added.

“Jasmin’s work rate in middle of the pitch was great and Larissa Kilby, her understanding how to defend in the front third and ability to track their fullback was also good to see.”

In last weekend’s other round one results the Tigers and Sydney Olympic both won big, scoring a pair of 4-0 victories over Southern Branch and Marconi Stallions respectively.

Central Coast Mariners FC also defeated St George in the opening round of 2018 while Nepean FC took down the Inter Lions, both sides won 3-1.

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