Arrive Alive Women?s Premier League Round 12 Preview


Will that have any effect on their respective teams during their absence? That?s a question that will be answered starting Sunday when the Arrive Alive Women?s Premier League moves into Round 12 of the competition.
At Cromer Park second placed Manly United FC take on fourth placed Inter Lions in what should be an enthralling encounter. Both sides sat out last weekend due to Sydney?s wet weather so you can be sure that the players and coaching staff will be as keen as mustard to get back on the field come Sunday.
Manly United will be missing their inspirational leader Gill Foster who leaves for South Africa this week. Foster will not be easily replaced as she is the side?s leading goal scorer this season as well as their ace penalty taker. However, Manly have been very consistent in 2010; a fact that will have them confident that they?ll be able to cover the loss of the Captain for a few weeks. At the time of writing Manly are hopeful of having the injured Emma Stewart back in harness to give the side a boost. Coach Larry Bates must fancy his side?s chances of pushing for title if they can remain in touch with leaders the Illawarra Stingrays in the coming weeks.
Inter Lions have been the opposite of Manly this season; they have all the talent in the world amongst their roster but their results have been somewhat haphazard.  Their most recent result, a 6-1 drubbing of Marconi Stallions, gave glimpses of this side?s true capabilities. Captain Catherine Cannuli leads the way in goal scoring for The Lions this season including a four goal effort against The Stallions. Inter Coach Joe Baldacci feels that his team have now turned the corner. If he?s right then all the league?s leading sides need to be looking over their shoulders.
The first round match between these two sides was an exciting clash with plenty of goals. Manly United finished all over Inter Lions that day and that must give them confidence going into Sunday?s game. I?ll plump for a narrow Manly win.
At ELS Hall Park the NWS Koalas host competition leaders the Illawarra Stingrays.
The Koalas come into this match on the back of successive wins; a 5-1 victory over Inter Lions and a 7-0 win over Southern Branch. Those two wins would certainly have given The Koalas some heart after a fairly miserable start to the season. They?ve now snuck up the ladder to be five points out of fourth place; a seemingly difficult gap to rein in but, should they keep winning, anything could happen. A match with the 2009 Premiers does provide a test of the home side?s mettle though; are they up to causing an upset?
The Stingrays have ten wins and a draw from their 11 matches this season. Like all champion sides they?ve managed to come up with the goods even in the most difficult of matches. They?ve had their share of injuries but Illawarra are blessed with a bevy of talented players who have been able to cover the gaps when one of their number has been relegated to the physio?s table. This week they may be stretched a little further though with the irreplaceable Michelle Carney on her way to South Africa for the World Cup. The Stingrays have their fingers crossed that striker Ash Connor will be back from injury to help steady the ship.
The Illawarra Stingrays without Michelle Carney? Isn?t that like a banana smoothie without bananas? Whilst I respect NWS Koalas recent resurgence but The Stingrays look to have too many big guns for mine. The Stingrays to win.
At Lynwood Park the Macarthur Rams play Sutherland Sharks.
The Rams are a clear third on the competition table, with a finals spot almost assured. The Macarthur girls battled at various times to subdue an enthusiastic Marconi side last weekend but eventually came away with the points. The Rams line up boast plenty of stars with Stephanie Haim finding some form after an injury ravaged start to the season and youngster Laura Donnelly playing like seasoned veteran. The question is, have Macarthur still got the power to take them to another title? Coach Matt Turvey certainly thinks so.
Sutherland Sharks sit one win above bottom placed Southern Branch with the 9th best for and against record of the season. I saw signs of better things from The Sharks earlier in the season but that improvement has failed to materialize into positive results. The Sharks girls tell me that their recent scorelines have been deceptive and that they have more to offer than my recent previews/reviews have suggested. I?d be more than happy to wear some egg on my face so, come on Sharks, show me exactly what you?re capable of!
The form guide makes it very difficult to predict anything other than a Rams victory in this game.
At Marconi Stadium the young Marconi Stallions do battle with Southern Branch.
Though their recent results haven?t brought Coach Rob Pearce much joy the Marconi side have continued to play some attractive football. The lament of all who watch this bunch of youngsters in action is that they just need to learn to consolidate rather than score one goal and charge headlong after another. Their own enthusiasm gets the better of them sometimes but this is something that they?ll learn to temper with experience. I hope that they continue to play the sort of football they are, however, as it?s certainly an enjoyable style to watch.
I don?t know what I should write regarding Southern Branch. It?s hard to be positive when the team has lost eleven in a row and concede an average of six goals per game. I want to be encouraging but I also have to be factual. Southern Branch have found the Arrive Alive Women?s Premier League to be a step too far for them in 2010. That?s not being critical of either the players or their coaching staff; it?s purely the way things are. For a team used to being right in the thick of things come finals time it?s a bitter pill to swallow.
Marconi must win to keep alive their finals hopes. They should be able to do enough to take the points.
Finally, at Sydney University Oval,Sydney University meets Western NSW Panthers.
This could be one of the more entertaining matches of the round with both sides having proven quite competitive in 2010.
Sydney University sat out last weekend due to the wet weather but have been showing improved form in recent weeks. As their squad slowly starts to come together again after a rash of injuries the University side has put together some strong performances. Wins over Marconi Stallions and Southern Branch were followed by a 3-1 loss to Illawarra Stingrays. That last effort is not one to be sneezed at and the University side are more than capable of inflicting some lasting damage to a few reputations in the final six or seven weeks of the competition.
The Western NSW Panthers started the season strongly but have come back to the pack in the recent weeks. A string of losses to the competition?s leading sides has only been punctuated by a big win over the struggling Southern Branch team. The positive for The Panthers is that they still sit only one point outside the top four and whilst those ahead have a game in hand there is still hope for the girls from Bathurst. The Panthers have lost none of their spirited style of play and they will cause plenty of headaches into the run for the finals.
This should be a hard fought game. I?m a Panthers fan from way back but my head says that Sydney University is the side on a roll. I?ll tip a narrow win to the home side.
This certainly looks like a good weekend of football with important games for many of the competition?s ?fringe dwellers?. With the finals getting nearer points are now of the utmost importance in the race for a top four spot. That should ensure we fans plenty of quality football in the coming weeks.
Football NSW is also pleased to advise that hummel have come on board as the Player of the Week sponsor for the Arrive Alive Women?s Premier League. The winner of the award each week will receive a Hummel gift pack which will include which includes a backpack, towel, ball, cap, socks, wristband, pump and t shirt. Clubs will be asked to nominate their Player of the Week each week for the remainder of the competition to give your team?s star the chance to win this impressive prize. Thank you to hummel Australia for their great support of women?s football.
See you at the ground this weekend.
-By Ross Anderson