Roar set for Mariners test

Jeff Hopkins says his Brisbane Roar side is quietly confident ahead of this weekend’s Westfield W-League semi-final against Central Coast Mariners, but concedes it won’t be an easy task against a side that dominated the league’s awards ceremony.

Jeff Hopkins says his Brisbane Roar side is quietly confident ahead of this weekend-s Westfield W-League semi-final against Central Coast Mariners, but concedes it won-t be an easy task against a side that dominated the league-s awards ceremony.

The Mariners left last Sunday-s awards day in Sydney boasting this year-s Player of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Coach of the year and Golden Boot winner.

“We-re really looking forward to the game and an away final is a real challenge,” he said.

But Hopkins has his own award-winning weapon in Young Player of the Year Elise Kellond-Knight.

“She has been a lot more consistent this year and has been amongst our best performers week in, week out,” he said of the 19-year-old.

“I-m really pleased she-s been recognised with her award and she will be a key player with a key role for us this weekend.

“Her delivery from wide areas and set plays we hope can make a difference against Central Coast.”

The Roar have a healthy record against the Gosford-based team, playing them three times and winning all encounters, scoring eight and conceding none, but history won-t matter when these two sides take the field on Sunday afternoon.

“We won-t be changing our outlook on the game but we have a lot of respect for Central Coast as a team and are very aware of the number of very good individual players,” he explained.

Mariners captain Caitlin Cooper will be back to bolster their defence after serving a one-match suspension and missing last week-s season-defining clash with Sydney FC, where they stumbled in their quest to win the premiership, losing 1-0 and therefore being pipped to the title by their opponents. On the other hand, the Roar take momentum into the finals series after thrashing Newcastle Jets 6-0 in the final round of the season, something the Roar coach admits was a long time coming.

“We-ve had good preparation with the game last week,” Hopkins said.

“It was a result that had been coming for a few weeks, we-d been creating lots of chances but not been clinical in front of goal and it all became good against Newcastle after a week of hard work on the training field.”

Before last week-s defeat, the Central Coast were undefeated in six games, ironically, since their last encounter with the Roar when substitute Sasha McDonnell scored a last-gasp goal to win it 1-0 in the dying stages of the game.

The two sides boast the best defences in the league, just seven goals conceded each, while the two recipients of the Westfield W-League Hat-trick Award, Michelle Heyman and Roar-s Tameka Butt have an impressive 16 goals between them this season.

Hopkins said his team had been concentrating on the particular strengths of the Mariners in training as well as concentrating on their own.

“We-ve been working on ways to try and stop them being as effective as normal without affecting our positive outlook on the game,” he said.

The teams will go into the game knowing who they-ll face in the Grand Final if they win, with the first semi-final between Sydney FC and Canberra United taking place the day before.

Brisbane Roar take on Central Coast Mariners in the Westfield W-League semi-final this Sunday at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford. The match will be broadcast on ABC1 and ABC HD from 3pm.

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