Roar leave it late

A late goal from substitute Sasha McDonnell has seen the Brisbane Roar continue their flawless start to the Westfield W-League season with a gritty 1-0 triumph over the Central Coast Mariners at Ballymore Stadium on Sunday.

A late goal from substitute Sasha McDonnell has seen the Brisbane Roar continue their flawless start to the Westfield W-League season with a gritty 1-0 triumph over the Central Coast Mariners at Ballymore Stadium on Sunday.

Mariners keeper Jillian Loyden battled superbly to keep the defending champions at bay until McDonnell broke the deadlock in the 81st minute, only seconds after entering the fray at the expense of Joanne Burgess.

McDonnell made her first touch count, tiptoeing into the box and curling the ball into the right corner of the net with aplomb.

It was a tough pill to swallow for Loyden, who was one of her side's best in what was a pulsating and highly entertaining encounter.

The US import was put under duress for much of the match, but managed to get behind everything that Roar stars Tameka Butt, Courtney Beutel and Elise Kellond-Knight threw at her.

Roar captain Clare Polkinghorne was satisfied to see her side claim outright top position on the table after notching a third win from as many matches.

"Last year we played the Mariners twice and every time it was a physical game and we knew ... they'd be ready to play," Polkinghorne said.

"It was a top-of-the-table clash and both teams had everything to play for - they played a tough game, it was really good to get the win."

"We've got a little bit of a breathing gap, but we don't want to rest on that, we want to keep winning every week."

The first half was largely the 'Butt and Beutel show', with the pair wreaking havoc and creating a plethora of chances.

In what was a free-flowing game of football, the visitors also had a number of handy opportunities, and the Roar had to defend desperately to stop Kelly Golebiowski and Lydia Vandenbergh either side of the half-time break.

Butt continued to run circles around the Mariners defence in the second stanza, but the Roar had problems of their own down back, and Michelle Heyman's sizzling 72nd-minute strike went within inches of the woodwork.

McDonnell's goal proved to be the difference, while Lana Harch had an excellent chance to double her side's lead in the dying stages after finding a paddock of space in the box, but fired straight at Loyden.

Brisbane Roar 1 (McDonnel 81) Central Coast Mariners 0