Yes, it?s true that the matches are basically top four versus bottom four, but maybe there?s an upset or two possible.
Certainly the match with the most hinging on the result would appear to be the Penrith Nepean United v Marconi Stallions game at Cook Park. Penrith have to keep winning to retain their slender semi final prospects. Whilst they have two games in hand and what appears to be an easier run home than the team their chasing, Manly United FC, it?ll only take one slip up for the Penrith girls to be left planning for 2009. Hopefully the locals will come out in numbers (and warm, woolly jackets!) to support the team on Sunday.
Penrith have been weakened by the loss of players to overseas football scholarships and injuries but they?re a no nonsense type of team who certainly give every game every drop of petrol they have in the tank. They?d not be out of place in the semi finals.
The Stallions are perennial contenders in the league. Their form this season shows that they will certainly be hard to beat once the whips start cracking. Does Mauro Tacco have a whip? Tacco is one of the league?s most respected coaches who, I?m sure, will have his team primed for the big games. Trudy Camilleri has been in fine form for The Stallions and will be keen to continue her goal scoring steak against Penrith. The Stallions have played some good football in the last few weeks. The best teams rise to the occasion in crunch games; this Marconi side is one of the league?s best. That doesn?t go well for Penrith?s prospects in this one.
In my opinion this will be a tight game but I expect The Stallions to get home narrowly. Just a thought; can we be politically correct next season and call the girls The Stallionettes or something of a more feminine gender? Sorry, just thinking out aloud!
Competition battlers Central Coast Lightning host Manly United FC at Pluim Park.
Central Coast are struggling with injuries, having only a small pool of players to call upon to play first grade in the last few weeks. I?ve often mentioned the youth of this squad. It?s unfortunate to see the side suffering through such a tough season. They have a tough couple of weeks coming up with games against Marconi and Penrith on the horizon.
Manly have it all to play for. They have Penrith Nepean looming in the rear vision mirror so success in games like this one is essential. Manly are a strong physical side with plenty of flair. Their inconsistency has been what?s put them in their current vulnerable position. However, when they press the ON button these girls can play.
I sort of hope, for Central Coast?s sake, that I?m wrong but I?m thinking the awesome Manly United FC might stand up this weekend. I?ll tip Manly by a lot.
Competition leaders NWS Koalas have a tricky match on offer with Sydney University. The University side have a reputation for playing a defensively orientated game that?s proved quite frustrating for a number of their opponents this season. The Koalas are not a side that score lots of goals; despite the countless opportunities they are capable of creating. I?m sure that Koalas Coach Claude De Francesco will be working on some strategies to unlock the University blockade.
Now, before someone gets emotional about my comments let me say that Sydney University have done a pretty good job this season after a less than auspicious start. They?ve carved out results in seven of their sixteen matches which may not sound all that impressive but, for a team coming out of the second tier competition, they?ve generally competed well. I?ll be interested to see how they fare in 2009.
The Koalas are a dominant side though. They?ll win this one and it won?t matter by how far.
Our final match for discussion sees Sutherland Sharks clash with Macarthur Rams at the Harrie Dening Centre.
Ah, my little Sharks! Last weekend the weather came to Sutherland?s rescue; just when it looked as if they were about to cop a hiding from a rampant NWS Koalas. To their credit the Sutherland girls lifted their game after the storm break but this week they?ll need to click into gear right from the start against a Rams side that has goalscorers across the park.
The Rams gave Central Coast a real going over last weekend. They are a side who can do significant damage to your for and against if they?re allowed to play their game. Stephanie Haim, for one, will be thinking that scoring goals is a pretty easy job after last week?s ?foursome?. Now that Captain and defender Danielle Brogan has decide to get into the act Steph better be very careful or The Enforcer will be after a shot at the striker?s role!
Hmm, everyone knows that I always let my heart rule my head when it comes to The Sharkies girls but I?m sorry, I just can?t possibly tip them to win this one. Sorry Adriana! The Rams are an awesome team. If the Sharks aren?t careful the scoreboard attendant could get a good workout at this game. Macarthur should win comfortably.
This doesn?t look like around of matches that will change the face of the competition. However, it could be the round where the final four are confirmed. NWS Koalas head into the last four weeks with the competition lead but meet Macarthur, Manly United and Marconi in the last three weeks. Methinks there are a few twists and turns to come before the Minor Premiers and Club Champions are crowned in the Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Premier League.
-By Ross Anderson