The first week of the finals series is upon us, and with Western NSW Mariners crowned the Premiers, they have earned the week off.
For the remaining matches, Sydney Olympic face a difficult task against form side UNSW, while Bankstown City will play Southern Districts at Jensen Park.
Bankstown City v Southern Districts Emeralds. Jensen Park, Saturday 3.30pm.
A fortnight ago these two sides met in Moorebank, with Bankstown City earning a 1-0 victory thanks to an early goal from Samantha Muscat. While Bankstown might be in better form than Southern Districts, this will be a battle of two very different sides. Southern Districts are tough, uncompromising battlers with a never say die attitude, while Bankstown City like to play pretty football but often fail to hold their nerve against the better teams. As an example, Southern Districts have scored just 41 goals this campaign, while Bankstown have registered a whopping 81. For Southern Districts, defending high up the park will be important to unsettle their opponents, while Bankstown will be looking to keep track of Kristy Rohrer, Southern Districts’ emerald in the midfield. Expect both sides to fight tooth and nail, as the loser is automatically eliminated from the finals series.
UNSW Lions v Sydney Olympic. Valentine Sports Park, Sunday 3.30pm
UNSW have to be one of the form sides of the competition. After a mixed start to the season which was interrupted by washouts, the eastern suburbs side has roared back into contention with six consecutive wins, including a five goal demolition of fellow finalists Bankstown City. By virtue of their place on the ladder, both sides have a ‘second chance’ should they lose this game. However, with Sydney Olympic nursing an injury-laden squad, they’ll want to get their finals campaign off to a positive start. With Lisa Mitchell expected to play despite being part of the walking wounded, Olympic possess plenty of attacking threats. Still, it’s an area well matched by UNSW, who will look to Gabrielle Marzano and Ayse Adalis to lead the line. Despite all the attacking prowess, expect a low scoring game in Glenwood, as both sides have tough centre-backs and excellent goalkeepers.
-By Joe Gorman