Round 14 – NPL 2 NSW Women’s Preview

National Premier Leagues 1st - NPL 2 NSW Women's 2018 Round 2 fixture between Nepean FC and Marconi Stallions FC on Sunday 18 March 2018 at Cook Park, St Mary’s

Photo: Ali Erhan

Why do you have to make things so complicated crooned Avril Lavigne, although the Canadian singer could’ve been describing the mid-table logjam that hangs over NPL2, as teams couldn’t make it more obvious their intentions for finals football in another smorgasbord of football across the long weekend.

Match of the Round: SD Raiders vs APIA Leichhardt Tigers, Monday 11th June, 6pm, Ernie Smith Reserve

Finish off the long weekend right – with some National Premier League action! SD Raiders welcome APIA Leichhardt Tigers in an exciting climax to the weekend, as the two sides jockey for top four positioning headed to the finals.

SD Raiders have cut a swathe through the NPL competition in the past month, six straight games undefeated and 18 goals scored – makes them one of the form sides. Meanwhile APIA has slumped slightly with a loss to Central Coast and draw with Gladesville sandwiched between huge victories against the bottom two sides.

Despite their slew of recruits, APIA lost their first home game in three seasons last weekend. The Tigers weren’t their usual fluid selves and Mariners took advantage, Matteo Maiorana will have the wounded Tigers primed for a clash against a tough Raiders side.

These two sides played out an end-to-end contest with fireworks on the pitch and in the dugouts between two of NPL2 womens most passionate coaches – in Maiorana and Matthew Costantini make this must watch for those free on Monday and near the south-west.

Add to that the form of the forwards for both sides, highlighted by APIA’s Ash Palombi 15 goals this season and across the field, Cassidy Chidgey with 13. Not to mention the supporting casts that has these sides side-by-side on the ladder and a fantastic way to end the long weekend.

Inter Lions vs Marconi Stallions, Sunday 10th June, 3pm, Concord Oval

These Lions are starting to roar. Inter head back home to Concord Oval, ready to host the stuttering Marconi Stallions Sunday afternoon, as these two mid-table foes collide.

Sitting in eighth place, Inter has been on a run recently – back-to-back successes over Nepean and Southern Branch puts them right into the finals hunt. Danny Abboud’s young squad are brimming with confidence and found their style of football.

Natasha Pentecost has been a rock between the sticks for the Lions; the custodian has produced fantastic saves across the season and her safe hands allows their strike force in Sarah Mandile, Georgia Bourbous and Dominique Caridad to prosper.

Marconi Stallions despite their recent setbacks remain in contention, but they need to fire quickly. One positive has been the recent form of Jess Beale, the striker has seven for the season and is the key for the Stallions success.

Nepean FC vs UNSW FC, Sunday 10th June, 3pm, Cook Park (St Marys)

Currently Nepean FC are the queens of the fifth place mountain, while the rest of the mid-table, including this weekend’s opponent, UNSW FC Sunday afternoon, try to capture of the flag at Cook Park.

Last week we got the good Nepean FC – Tasses side were clinical in front of goal as they downed Marconi Stallions 4-1 as the students downswing continued in a heavy defeat against the buzz saw that is Sydney Olympic FC.

The problem for Nepean FC this season is consistency. On their best days, they are an irresistible force that can blow away any team in NPL2 but unlike last season, where they snuck up on teams, their best days have been fewer this season – mostly coming when Stefanie Trovato fires.

Right now, for UNSW FC, they need to discover that winning feeling again. Last time they felt success was in mid-April against St George FC, and against Nepean last time out, it was a 0-0 draw, so Sunday is important for both sides chances.

Western NSW Mariners vs St George FC, Sunday 10th June, 3pm, Sir Jack Brabham Park

All quiet on the Western front as the Mariners wedged themselves into mid-table, now they have a chance to shoot for three straight against eleventh place St George FC, in Orange.

Their triumph against formerly fifth place Gladesville, came with them missing several key starters including top-scorer Teegan Courtney, but their young core stepped up including a bullet header from 14-year old Anna Hunt in the 3-1 success.

Hopefully the Mariners welcome back their stars, and a helpful run of home games coming up, they can put some pressure on the rest of the mid-table pack. Also helping them is their 4-3 win back in round three against the Saints, so this game is set up for action.

Southern Branch FC vs Central Coast Mariners, Sunday 10th June, 3pm, South Nowra Football Complex

Central Coast Mariners are the latest side to take the long trip down to Nowra, the rampaging side look to continue their dominant form Sunday afternoon on the south coast.

In last week’s Match of the Round, the Mariners laid down a huge marker in their 5-2 win against APIA Leichhardt, where Jordan Evans stole the headlines with a four-goal performance while Southern Branch fell 3-nil to Inter Lions.

Post-match last week, Mariners boss Dan Barrett sent a message that his side aren’t slowing down their dominance anytime soon, and with dueling dynamos in top-scorer Candice Phelan and Evans may send a chill down opposition spines come later in the season.

Sydney Olympic FC vs Gladesville Ravens, Sunday 10th June, 3pm, Valentine Sports Park #2

Rounding off Sunday’s action is Sydney Olympic FC looking to extend their unbeaten streak to 14, as they travel to Valentine Sports Park, to face embattled Gladesville Ravens.

Taking on Sydney Olympic FC at times, can be like David vs Goliath. They swept past UNSW FC 8-nil last week, Lieke Bever opened up a six-pack of goals as the forward inched closer to chasing down Candice Phelan for the top-scoring title.

Olympic remain four points clear of the chasing pack, last year’s premiers hungry to make sure that they sweep all the competition this time around. With talent like Bever, Madelaine Costanzo and Danielle Calvi leading the way they make a strong argument for that.

Gladesville Ravens flew high to start the season but recently, have had their wings clipped as their success has dried up. It will be tough going against the premiers, but David slayed Goliath so like Kevin Garnett said “anything is possible”

By Justin Davies