The five coaches who almost jumped off the closest high rise building on Friday are probably glad they stepped back from the edge! I have one question: why don?t the TAB or Sportsbet take wagers on the Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Super League?
Now, let?s get down to talking about the real headline grabbers, the women of the Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Super League. There were no upsets over the weekend, leaving the race for both the Minor Premiership and the Club Championship as an absorbing battle between Western NSW Panthers and Illawarra Stingrays.
Seemingly the match of the day for Round 14 was the South Coast Derby between Southern NSW FC and Illawarra Stingrays. Southern NSW have been steadily climbing their way up the ladder, eventually working their way into a clear fourth place on the table. Teams don?t like journeying to Ison Park as Southern seem to play their best football there. However, The Stingrays obviously aren?t a superstitious lot.
Illawarra came out full throttle with their dynamic strike force of Carney and Heyman reunited after Heyman?s return from injury last weekend. After just ten minutes Heyman reminded Illawarra supporters just what they?d been missing by opening the scoring. Eight minutes later Michelle was at it again, doubling Illawarra?s lead with her second goal. Southern attempted to stabilise, actually managing to stem the tide for a period.
However, in the 33rd minute, Michelle Carney decided that her team mate shouldn?t be having all the fun, adding Illawarra?s third goal. Would it be an Illawarra Stingrays game without a Carney goal?
Not to be outdone the ?other Michelle? decided that the best way to announce her return from injury was to snare a hat trick with her third goal coming in the 35th minute. This was an Illawarra side missing two of their most influential players, Erica Halloway and Christie Akid. Southern?s cause looked over when they went to oranges at 4-0 down.
The second half provided plenty of opportunities for The Stingrays but they were unable to convert these into goals. Unfortunately Michelle Heyman suffered another injury; this time to the opposite ankle which had kept her out for the last few weeks. The injury doesn?t seem as serious this time around but it?s obviously still a cause for concern to the Illawarra camp.
Finals score, a dominant 4-0 win to the Illawarra Stingrays. The girls sit atop the ladder, though second placed Western NSW Panthers have a game in hand. We?re getting down to the business end of the season!
Southern NSW FC 0
Illawarra Stingrays 4 (M.Heyman 3, M.Carney)
The Inter Lions and UNSW sides clashed at Ron Routley Reserve. Both sides have been decimated with Inter fielding only five of their usual 1st grade roster. The UNSW girls have shown plenty of courage with the majority of their players numbering up for both 1st and Reserve Grades. That?s a pretty gutsy effort.
Both teams had their chances in the first half but neither could stir the scoreboard attendant into action. The 0-0 half time scoreline didn?t reflect any lack of effort. Rather both teams managed to close each other down.
The second half saw The Lions surge forward but the UNSW goalkeeper Gigi Tsang, pulled off some brilliant saves to keep her side in the match. What makes that even more intriguing is that Gigi is actually the UNSW striker but was filling in ?between the sticks? to help out on the day!
Finally though, in the 67th minute, Stephanie Padilla and Niqui Caridad combined to set up striker Jess Abrahim for what tuned out to be the winning goal.
Neither team may have that much to play for in terms of the competition table but that certainly didn?t affect the amount of passion and commitment they put into their game. Well done girls! Another reason I love women?s football.
Inter Lions 1 (J.Abrahim)
St George FC maintained their semi final hopes with a strong win over Bankstown Wildcats at Peakhurst.
Whilst Bankstown opened the scoring with a goal to Susie Gallagher in the 12th minute, St George hit back quickly through goals by Gardener (27m), Hill (33m) and Arnold (36m) to snatch a 3-1 half time lead. Try as Bankstown might they couldn?t find a way back into the match with Arnold scoring her second goal for St George in the 56th minute to seal the win.
St George are back within a win of fourth placed Southern NSW FC. Their clash at Ison Park on 27th July could be the decider for both teams? semi final hopes.
St George FC 4 (L.Gardner, A.Hill, C.Arnold 2)
Bankstown Wildcats 1 (S.Gallagher)
Northern Tigers and Gladesville Ravens repeated their first round nail biter at Parklands Oval.
Unfortunately for Northern Tigers the result was the same with Gladesville finding goals through Najla Eid and Alyssa Hardie to cancel out the lone strike by Tigers? Kurmann.
These two sides play with plenty of heart but The Ravens seem possessed of a little more firepower than their opponents. Whilst Gladesville will be preparing themselves for the semi finals, Northern Tigers will be looking to build for 2009.
Northern Tigers 1 (S.Kurmann)
Gladesville Ravens 2 (N.Eid, A.Hardie)
The final game of the round saw Blacktown Spartans venture over the mountains to do battle with the Western NSW Panthers in Bathurst.
The Panthers were obviously keen to show the rest of the premiership contenders that they are serious about bringing the championship to Bathurst in 2008 with a convincing win. By half time they?d more or less achieved that goal with four worthy strikes by Sammie Wood (5m), Ashleigh Sykes (15m), Gillian Rosconi (25m) and Amberlee Ryan (35m). Blacktown weren?t sure what had hit them but managed to keep the 2nd half scoreless until the 70th minute when Sykes added her second gaol to leave the final score 5-0 to the locals.
Blacktown?s season of woe continues whilst The Panthers continue their struggle with Illawarra Stingrays for both Minor Premiership and Club Championship honours.
Western NSW Panthers 5 (A.Sykes 2, S.Wood, G.Rosconi, A.Ryan)
Blacktown Spartans 0
With just four rounds to go in the competition there?s plenty of interest, not just in the battle royal atop the ladder but also in the race for fourth spot. Southern NSW FC and St George FC are fighting it out with Southern holding a three point advantage as well as a significant for/against difference. The odds would seem to be against St George but anything can happen as the pressure builds in the final rounds.
-By Ross Anderson