The competition is creeping closer to the semi final stages. The Minor Premiership is still up for grabs as competition leaders NWS Koalas and 2nd placed Macarthur Rams are separated by just four points on the ladder. Their Round 19 meeting on 10th August may be crucial in deciding who takes the honours.
Meanwhile third and fourth placed Manly United FC and Marconi Stallions will be sneaking a look over their shoulders to make sure Penrith United don?t manage to tip one of them out of the four. Marconi have two games in hand so they may feel slightly more comfortable than Manly. Penrith, however, have two tough games coming up in the next fortnight; namely NWS Koalas this Sunday, then Macarthur Rams the following weekend. The Penrith girls have to keep winning to stay a chance of competing in the finals.
This weekend?s round has some matches with an important bearing on various aspects of the competition. The Match of the Round is certainly the clash between Macarthur Rams and Marconi Stallions at Lynwood Park. These two sides have met twice this season with Marconi having run out convincing winners on both occasions. The Macarthur girls will be keen to exact from revenge at their home ground. The last meeting between the two sides had an edge to it. Two players; one of them being Rams playmaker Kylie Ledbrook, were red carded. Lynwood Park can take on an imposing atmosphere at the best of times, with The Rams vocal supporters urging their team on, but Sunday might just have that extra touch of excitement.
Both sides boast plenty of talented players; Ledbrook, Haim, Cartwright and Brogan amongst many for The Rams. Marconi?s Camilleri, Perfilio and Bain will lead the visitor?s charge towards victory. I?m sure that both coaches will have a trick or two up their sleeve. This game may not change the respective teams? positions on the ladder in relation to each other but both sides will want to gain a psychological edge from their last meeting before the finals.
I?m really looking forward to this match. It?s a game that has so much to offer. The Rams are usually pretty awesome at home but Marconi?s 5-0 win at Lynwood in Round 1 sticks in the memory. I can find plenty of reasons to tip either side. However, I?ll plump for Macarthur by the narrowest of margins.
The other important game on Sunday is the NWS Koalas v Penrith United clash at ELS Hall Park. The Koalas continue to lead the way atop the competition table whilst Penrith are stalking a semi final spot; currently sitting fifth on the ladder.
The Koalas are coming off a narrow 1-0 victory over Marconi Stallions whilst Penrith knocked over the struggling Sutherland Sharks 3-0 in their most recent match. Taryn Rockall is the ?engine? of United?s midfield; the player who launches most of Penrith?s most lethal attacking raids. She?d had great support this season from players like Emma Stewart, Joanne Saliba and Ellie Stott. Stewart and Saliba are off to the USA in late July to take up scholarships at University. They?ll obviously be sorely missed.
The Koalas keep on winning. Pressure doesn?t seem to deter their resolve as they always seem to come through in the tight encounters. Dani Calvi has been in great goal scoring form recently. With Alicia Cavanagh and Sanaa Hawkins also playing well, The Koalas have a formidable attacking presence that causes problems for any side.
I find it hard to tip against The Koalas at any time. Penrith are a gutsy side but that may not be enough in this one. NSW Koalas by two.
At the other end of the table we see a match that could decide the unwanted title of wooden spooners for 2008. Central Coast Lightning travel to the Harrie Dening Centre to take on the Sutherland Sharks in a game both sides will be desperate to win.
The two teams have a win a piece in their meetings so far this season. Sutherland have lost 12 games in succession. In recent weeks they?ve looked somewhat dispirited. Pride is at stake on Sunday as it?s likely the loser will be stuck at the bottom of the table until season?s end. The Sharks have plenty of talent and a fair bit more experience than their young opponents. Can they do the job this week?
Central Coast have bled 11 goals in their last two matches. However, on Sunday they face a side that have had problems finding the back of the net all season. The Lightning girls will take confidence from their win the last time the two teams met. If they can?t be motivated for this game they never will be!
Gee, I always seem to tip The Sharks. My well known soft spot for them always gets in the way. Maybe the soft spot is in my head but I?m going to tip them again on Sunday. One goal difference at least please girls???
The final game we?ll be looking at in Round 15 is the Manly United v Sydney University clash at Cromer Park. A look at the competition table would have you think that this may be a mismatch but Sydney University have grown in status as the seasons progressed. Whilst Manly comfortably won the Round 1 clash 5-1, University showed their true mettle with by snatching a 1-1 draw in the next encounter. University come into this match off a 4-0 win over Central Coast Lightning whilst Manly took a 5-2 beating at the hands of Macarthur Rams.
Manly?s lack of consistency this season has been their Achilles heel. One week they play like contenders, the next they struggle against sides they, on paper at least, seem much better than. This is a game they should win. Home ground advantage won?t hurt either. I?ll tip Manly United FC by three.
Looks like a round of football with lots of highlights. It?s well worth a trip to any of the grounds this weekend to see the stars of the Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Premier League in action. I hope to see you at Lynwood Park!
-By Ross Anderson