The thrills and spills don?t let up this weekend with some more match ups between top sides plus a game or two where points will be at a premium for the teams involved. This comes after tonight?s international friendly between The Matildas and Canada at the SFS. That game kicks off at 5.15pm. Apparently there?s some less important game on afterwards.
This weekend?s match of the round coverage will be from Lynwood Park where second placed Macarthur Rams line up against fourth on the ladder Penrith Nepean United. Both sides are coming off losses last weekend; Rams in a tough encounter with The Stallions and Penrith at the hands of competition leaders NWS Koalas.
Leading into last weekend both teams were arguably the form teams of the competition, having stacked up a series of wins in the preceding weeks. Macarthur in particular were taking on that awesome look that defending premiers often do. Unfortunately though, their ?Marconi hoodoo? bit with a vengeance last Sunday as they struggled to match The Stallions. That loss was compounded by the dismissal of midfield wizard Kylie Ledbrook who will now be missing from this weekend?s game due to suspension. Rams also have plenty of injury worries with both Renee Cartwright and Sigrid Manty unavailable due to ongoing problems. All this adds up to leave The Rams in a vulnerable state for a clash with the tenacious Penrith side.
Whilst Penrith weren?t able to extend their winning streak against The Koalas last weekend they did put in a creditable performance. They?ve proven, with their earlier win over The Stallions, that they can match it with the front runners any time. Rockall, Stewart and Stott have all been amongst the goals for the Penrith girls in recent games and the mountain girls will be looking to these three to provide plenty of spark to Sunday?s challenging encounter.
Despite the injury and suspension concerns Rams must start favourites at home. Memories of their form in beating NWS Koalas just a few weeks back are still vivid in my thoughts. Rams by two. Sorry girls!
The other big game of the weekend would appear to be third placed Marconi Stallions versus fifth placed Manly United at Cromer Park. The first round clash between these two sides was a very tight affair. Marconi are coming into the match after a great win over Macarthur Rams last Sunday. Trudy Camilleri bagged a brace for The Stallions last weekend; form Marconi Coach Mauro Tacco will be hoping Trudy can repeat this weekend. Marconi?s form has generally been quite strong and they will take a big boost from their solid win over The Rams.
Manly?s mindset this weekend will be interesting. They will either still be shell shocked from unexpectedly dropping points to lowly ranked Sydney University last Sunday or ramped up for a big performance to erase the memory of that effort. The seasiders are a tough outfit who have been extremely competitive in every game they?d played this season. With a touch of good fortune here or there they could be much further up the competition ladder than what they currently are. This match presents an opportunity for the girls to remind everyone in the league that they intend to have a say in premiership honours at the business end of the season.
This will be a close one. I just have a feeling that Manly will come out firing for this one. A narrow win to the home side. (Mauro, you owe me big time for this!)
Competition leaders NWS Koalas will host the premiership cellar dwellers Central Coast Lightning at ELS Hall Park. The Koalas have met all of the contenders in the last few weeks with only one small hiccup against Rams to dent their record. Alicia Cavanagh has been amongst the goals in the last few weeks culminating in a hat trick against Penrith last Sunday. Cavanagh hasn?t been the sole catalyst for this side though with in form players across the park contributing to The Koalas success in 2008. Koalas aren?t what I?d call a ?flashy side? but they certainly get the job done.
Central Coast have had a miserable season. Last year?s premiership challengers have had massive changes in personnel which has left a side of youngsters to carry the flag. The girls have battled hard but the season has been a gigantic learning curve for them. It was, I?m sure, a big thrill for the side to record their first win of the season last Sunday against Sutherland. Kirstyn Pearce would have been the most popular girl on the Central Coast after providing the winning goal. Coach Scott Howison would be more than happy for Kirstyn to do something similar this week!
I?d love to be able to tip an upset but the form book begs some realism on my part. The Koalas look potential premiers, The Lightning are struggling to stave off the wooden spoon. Koalas comfortably.
The final game of the round sees two sides desperate for pints coming to grips at The Harrie Dening Centre. The recent form of the two teams is in stark contrast. Sydney University, who have struggled for most of the season, have put two fine performances back to back; a win over Central Coast Lightning and a 1-1 draw with Manly United FC. That last effort appears most significant and should ensure a lift in confidence from the University girls. They will be keen to continue their move away from the cellar with a win over the unfortunate Sharks.
Sutherland have stalled after taking four points from their first two games of the season. They?ve now lost six on the trot with Coach Michael Michael?s hair going from jet black to a light tinge of grey! Sutherland can?t seem to get the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis; an obvious deficiency in a game of football. They have some very talented players on the roster who must be capable of breaking this drought sooner rather than later. The Sutherland girls could take some heart from the fact that they defeated University 2-0 earlier in the season.
I hate doing this to Michael Michael and his girls as they seem such a nice bunch of people BUT??I?m tipping The Sharks to grab three points from this game.
Look for our Football NSW Review of the action next Monday, complete with our coverage of the match of the day between Macarthur Rams and Penrith Nepean United. Whet your appetite for the action by getting along to the SFS tonight to cheer on the Mighty Matildas against Canada in their international friendly. Go Aussies, Go!
-By Ross Anderson