With Central Coast Mariners Academy mathematically confirming the Premiership last week, the run home will now be focused on the sides chasing for a top four finish.
Round 17 will see important clashes for the teams hoping to continue their season, most notably when sixth placed Western NSW Mariners host fourth placed Inter Lions.
Sydney Olympic vs Northern Tigers; at Peter Moore Park, Sunday 3pm
Sydney Olympic need to bounce back from their 2-0 loss to Southern Branch, and what better place to start than against last placed Northern Tigers? While they sit in second spot, their place in the top four is not yet secure and a dip in form at this stage of the season could cause a few nerves. They face Northern Tigers next, knowing that they defeated them 5-0 last time they played. Northern Tigers are also coming off a 4-1 loss to UNSW Lions, although the score line was perhaps not fully reflective of the match. With five games to go, Tigers can only hope to avoid finishing last, but even that looks like an impossible task, with Sutherland sitting five points ahead in seventh spot.
UNSW Lions vs Central Coast Mariners Academy; at David Phillips Field, Sunday 3pm
Even being reduced to 10-men was not enough to prevent Central Coast Mariners Academy from comprehensively defeating Western NSW Mariners 5-2 in a match which saw them wrap up the NPL NSW Women’s 2 Premiership. Central Coast have been light years ahead of the competition this season and are 20 points clear of second place with five games of the normal season to go. The task for Central Coast is to now continue their dominance, making sure their form does not slip before the finals series at the end of the normal season. This weekend they face UNSW Lions, who defeated Northern Tigers 4-1 to move into third spot but in the past two meetings between UNSW and Central Coast, the Mariners have put eight goals past their opponent.
Western NSW Mariners vs Inter Lions; at Glen Willow Stadium, Sunday 3pm
After 10 rounds of the season, Inter Lions were sitting comfortably in second place with 19 points, eight behind runaway leaders Central Coast Mariners. Fast forward six weeks and Inter Lions now sit nervously in fourth spot on 22 points, 23 points behind Central Coast Mariners, but more importantly just one ahead of the chasing Southern Branch in fifth. Their amazing spiral downwards continued last week, when Inter were comprehensively beaten by seventh placed Sutherland Shire, 5-1. Their previously strong defence has now conceded 17 goals in six games and they now face a side who are aiming for a top four finish. With a game in hand, Western NSW Mariners are four points behind Inter Lions and a win will ease the pain of their 5-2 loss to a 10-man Central Coast last week.
Sutherland Shire FA vs Southern Branch; at Harrie Denning Centre, Sunday 3pm
Southern Branch inched that little bit closer to breaking back into the top four as the season reaches its final stages, beating second placed Sydney Olympic 2-0 last week. They will hope to consolidate that win when they travel to the Shire to take on seventh placed Sutherland. Although they are in seventh spot, Sutherland still have a slim chance of extending their season. Their shock 5-1 win over Inter Lions helped close that gap to six points and a run of wins will help their cause. But the match up doesn’t read particularly kindly – although Sutherland defeated Southern Branch 3-2 the first time the two sides met, Southern Branch put six goals past them the next time.
-By Kate Cohen