Sure, the chance was there for the girls to get over those niggling injuries that always hamper your game at this time of the season, but these girls are footballers and footballers just want to play!
The semi final race continues to heat up. Yes, it?s true that the top three teams are looking safe for semi final football. However, fourth spot now has five teams separated by just four points. Three of those sides meet the top three teams on the weekend. Is there an upset or two possible? Not according to the form guide but bookies get rich from people who take what form guides say as gospel!
Our Match of the Day coverage this weekend will be from the Gladesville Ravens versus Blacktown Spartans game at Peel Park. The Ravens are safely ensconced in third place on the ladder but are coming off a solid defeat at the hands of Southern NSW in their most recent match. Coach Paul Wade will have been working hard to pick his side up off the floor. One would think that a match with the disappointing Spartans side would be an ideal avenue for a return to form by The Ravens girls.
However, The Spartans have shown more than once this season that they are capable of a surprise. The last meeting between these two teams ended in a 1-1 draw; every reason for the locals to be very wary on Sunday. Blacktown City’s performances have included wins over Southern NSW and St George so they?ve proven that they are a capable side on their day. Question is; will Sunday be one of those days?
The Ravens have some very exciting players. I think they might have a touch too much firepower for Blacktown City on Sunday. Gladesville by two?
UNSW, still basking in the glory of their first win of the season two weeks ago, will host the Illawarra Stingrays at David Phillips Field. This is sure to prove a tough follow up for the UNSW girls. I hear that they love the ?under dog? status they have in our previews? Well girls, I think you can retain that status this weekend!
Illawarra are still the team to beat in the league for my money. They have so much to offer. The Stingrays play the most attractive attacking football of any side in the competition when their on their game. They have dominant midfield players who create opportunities and deadly shooters who convert those chances. Is it any wonder they?ve gathered 75 goals so far this season?
Last time the two sides met Illawarra walked away with a 15-0 win. I?m sure that the UNSW players will be looking to improve on that result this time around. If they win I?ll shout them a round at the Uni bar next Saturday night. Illawarra by a lot!
Southern NSW FC have done a fine job in lifting themselves into fourth spot after a less than auspicious start to the season. Their home form, in particular, has been very impressive. They?re coming off a fine 4-0 win over Gladesville Ravens in the last round. A win here, along with the right results at other games, could leave the girls from Nowra with some valuable breathing space in the run for that semi final spot.
Northern Tigers won the first round clash between the two sides 4-3. They too come into the game in winning form having beaten Bankstown Wildcats 2-1 in round 11. Having fought their way back into the semi final battle The Tigers will be keen to maintain the momentum. A win here could see them in fourth place by the end of the weekend. Can they overcome the hoodoo?
I?d love to tip The Tigers but I?m a big believer in hoodoos. Southern NSW by two goals.
The competition leaders, Western NSW Panthers, welcome St George FC to beautiful Bathurst on Sunday afternoon. The Panthers won the first round clash comfortably, though narrowly. The country girls have been in dominant form in recent weeks, appearing to gain in confidence since that great win over Illawarra. Coach Paul Waine really has this team humming along. The return of Vanessa Hart from the USA has been an added bonus for The Panthers. Hart and Rosconi are already forming a very dangerous partnership.
St George took something of a hammering from The Stingrays in their latest match. They sit just one point outside fourth spot but can ill afford to drop points and lose touch at this stage of the season. Have they the firepower to threaten the miserly Panthers defence? Maybe, but I doubt that there?s enough there to outscore Western NSWon their home turf.
The Panthers by four.
The final match of the round sees another battle of the big cats; this time it?s Lions and Wildcats! A vital game for both sides as a loss for either may spell the end of their respective semi finals hopes.
Realistically, Bankstown haven?t done enough recently to look other than a mathematical possibility of snaring fourth spot. They?ve struggled to match it with the premiership front runners and will need to improve considerably if they hope to move up the ladder. This is a game they?re capable of winning. Can they do the job?
Inter haven?t had much better luck against the top teams though they?ve appeared to be somewhat more competitive than a few of the other teams lurking around the four. Western NSW Panthers outplayed them at Ron Routley Reserve two weeks back but the Inter lasses would be more confident of their chances against The Wildcats. Coach Joe Baldacci remains very upbeat about his team making the finals. If that?s to be the case this is a must win match for The Lions.
Hmm, I have to punt on Inter being up for this one. I don?t think there?ll be much in it but one is enough. It was last time the two teams met!
This round will either make or break a few sides battling for a semi final spot. The Panthers and Stingrays continue their battle for the Minor Premiership and Club Championship. There haven?t been enough upsets this season. Maybe this weekend is the one to break the trend?
-By Ross Anderson