Competition leaders Illawarra Stingrays meet Gladesville Ravens at J.J.Kelly Park in what is undoubtedly the match of the round. Illawarra have been dynamic so far this season, averaging almost eight goals a game.
They?ve simply been too classy for the opposition up they?ve encountered so far in the competition. The Stingrays have in form players across the park with Christie Akid, the Danyi twins and the Halloway girls playing dominant roles in every match. Of course the headliners for the Stingrays have been their deadly strike force of Michelle Carney and Michelle Heyman who have carved up opposing teams with a combination of pace and guile.
After a wrap like that for the opposition Gladesville must be wondering if it?s worthwhile showing up on Sunday! The Ravens have to survive a catch up game with Blacktown on Saturday afternoon before facing the premiership leaders on Sunday. A tough ask for the Ravens but they?ve been the quiet achievers so far in the competition. Undefeated so far the Gladesville side has made a positive impression on many who?ve seen them in action.
Goal scoring has not been something that?s been a forte for the team so far but defensively they?ve looked solid. The latter attribute will surely be put to the test this weekend. Paul Wade will have been working long and hard on tactics with his side this week in an effort to close down the various attacking options Illawarra have to offer. On wonders though if there are just too many options to close down?
Illawarra look too good in my opinion but, as my wife will attest, I have been wrong before.
Northern Tigers will host Blacktown Spartans at Parklands Oval. The tigers put up a very creditable performance against Gladesville last weekend. They are a determined group of players who never gave up last week. Rachael Lewis, Gabriella Dal Pozza and Georgie Eastoe all caused the much vaunted Ravens defence problems whilst Rosemary Toner was the mainstay in defence. Blacktown will have a battle on their hands backing up after a catch up game against Ravens on Saturday.
The Spartans have been involved in some tight games in the only three matches they?ve played but, running a line through that form, they look a touch short of the top sides in ability. This shapes as a close encounter but, given Blacktown?s quick back up and the good effort by Tigers last week I?ll go for a Northern Tigers win.
Unbeaten Western NSW Panthers invite Bankstown Wildcats into their Bathurst lair this weekend. The Panthers are yet to concede a goal in five matches. Gillian Rosconi has been in fine goal scoring form for the home side.
She certainly looms as a danger to a Bankstown defence which has bled goals in the last few weeks. Bankstown started the season with two good wins but have slumped with successive losses to Illawarra, Inter Lions and St George FC. A trip to Bathurst doesn?t exactly set the scene for a resurgence but the Bankstown girls will be keen to get their season back on track. Olympia Avramidis has been a bright light for Bankstown in recent weeks. The Panthers don?t score a lot of goals but when you?ve got a defence that doesn?t concede any one goal?s enough. I can?t see anything but a Panthers win in this match.
St George FC host UNSW at Peakhurst. Outside of their mauling at the hands of Illawarra, St George have looked to be quite a competent side. Their win last week against Bankstown was a solid one and they?ve proven quite capable of digging in when the matches get tough. Sitting on the edge of the top four the St George girls would be confident going into a match against a team that?s copped some major damage in the last couple of games. What can one say about UNSW? The side is struggling big time. The last two weeks has rained goals and the girls would be desperately seeking a silver cloud on a very overcast horizon. St George should win this one comfortably.
The fifth and final match of the round sees Southern NSW FC clashing with a resurgent Inter Lions in Nowra. Southern are still without a win this season but put in a strong performance against competition leaders Illawarra last weekend before going down 4-2. That effort must be a confidence boost for the locals but Inter are coming off successive wins over Bankstown and UNSW coming into this one. The visitors will be hoping to maintain fourth spot on the table with another win and Coach Joe Baldacci is sure to have his girls focussed on continuing their charge up the ladder. This will be a close contest but I feel that The Lions can prevail narrowly.
This is a fine round of football with plenty of intriguing clashes. Can Gladesville prove the testing material for the high flying Stingrays? Or will the girls from Illawarra continue on their winning way? Get away from early Mothers Day lunch with Mum and cheer on your favourite team. Better still, take Mum along to share the excitement that is the Arrive Alive NSW Womens Super League!
-By Ross Anderson