We’ve made it to the final stretch. There is two weeks left in the National Premier Leagues 2 Womens competition, and we have plenty still to be decided so strap yourself in for a smorgasbord of fantastic football in another weekend of action.
Match of the Round: APIA Leichhardt Tigers vs Gladesville Ravens, Sunday 29 July, 6pm, Lambert Park
We had back to Lambert Park for the Match of the Round this weekend, as a refreshed APIA Leichhardt Tigers welcome a foe that may encounter again in the finals, Gladesville Ravens for the weekend’s nightcap.
We have two sides in form going into Sunday night. APIA Leichhardt has recovered from their mid-season slump to vault to third, courtesy of a two-goal success against Marconi. For Gladesville it was the Emily Diaz show in a 4-nil against the Saints.
Diaz has been the livewire for the Ravens attack in recent weeks. Her return of nine goals in the last month put the black and whites in pole position for the finals, so they need another huge performance from the winger and the spine to combat a sparkling APIA side.
Finals were the objective for APIA Leichhardt headed into their maiden campaign. Now that has been secured, Matteo Maiorana will refine his side to get them ready for the upcoming challenges. Captain Lucy Gilfedder has led from the front and needs to be marshalled by the Ravens defense to prevent the Tigers free-flowing football.
Saying all that makes for mouth-watering reading, so Sunday night is set up as a possible preview between two sides that should feature heavily at the business end of the season, and maybe a rematch in the near future.
Nepean FC vs Sydney Olympic FC, Sunday 29 July, 3pm, Cook Park
Only two games remain until perfection for Sydney Olympic FC. This week’s task is a revitalised Nepean FC in a rare afternoon kick-off at Cook Park in St Marys.
Both sides will come into the weekend buoyed with confidence. Olympic FC because they piled ten past last placed Southern Branch FC, whilst Nepean FC kept their finals hopes alive, in a 2-nil escape from the country.
The back to back premiers were admittedly below their usual excellence in previous weeks, but some powerful performances from Lieke De Bever and goal poacher, Danielle Calvi has them nearing the century mark for goals this season. Olympic also on Central Coast mid-week which may affect their starting side.
Regarding Nepean FC, the equation is simple. They need to find some points from the contest, so the ladies from the foot of the mountains will rely on their experienced heads – Stefanie Trovato and Desiree Vassallo – to launch them into the finals.
Central Coast Mariners vs UNSW FC, Sunday 29 July, 3pm, IFS
Locked into the finals place, Central Coast host UNSW FC as Dan Barrett’s ladies aim to prime themselves for the finals series, starting with a good result at IFS on Sunday afternoon.
The Mariners turned in a fighting performance, coming back from a goal down to down Marconi Stallions 4-2 whilst UNSW FC continue their rollercoaster ride of a season, facing another set-back in a two goal loss to APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Whilst the Mariners are locked into second, the big storyline is the chase for the golden boot. Candice Phelan has dominated the charts like the Spice Girls in the 90s but might be pipped at the post by Lieke De Bever, the Olympic striker leads by a pair of goals so expect a hunger from the Mariners striker for that net to bulge.
Remaining on the pop music analogy, UNSW FC shined bright like a diamond in the opening weeks of the season but they faded out now, playing for pride, Renato Jelen will want his side to stick to their style and possibly pull off one of the results of the season in a close fixture.
Western NSW Mariners vs Inter Lions, Sunday 29 July, 3pm, Sir Jack Brabham Park
Two sides that may be out of contention, but plenty to play for as Western NSW Mariners host Inter Lions at Sir Jack Brabham Park on Sunday afternoon.
Coming into the weekend, Inter Lions were back to their sublime best as they took all three points against SD Raiders, with a 2-1 success as the home side were left to rue their luck in a 2-nil defeat against Nepean FC.
Kirilee Cook has been the star for the Lions in the second half of the campaign. A bulk of her eight goals have come since Round 12, and will keep Jess Daymond in the Mariners net and her back four busy all afternoon.
Western NSW Mariners have been honourable in their last two defeats. Honour only goes so far though, so the home side want to finish off the season in style, finding some goals and possibly three points as eighth and ninth jostle for final positions.
Southern Branch FC vs St George FC, Sunday 29 July, 3pm, South Nowra Football Complex
Eleventh takes on twelfth as the Saints make the pilgrimage down to Nowra trying to finish their away program on a high and complete the season double on their southern rival.
St George took the spoils on the previous encounter, a sole Lara Nicholls goal was the difference. Since then the Saints have taken seven more points and shown there is plenty of spirit and talent in the side, led by Nicopoulos and Grace Ha which should make for an open game of football.
For Southern Branch, they are confirmed wooden spooners for the season but have been gallant in their performances. They have their final two games on the picturesque south coast, so they want to send their crowd home happy, maybe splitting the series against St George in an intriguing contest.
SD Raiders vs Marconi Stallions, Sunday 29 July, 5pm, Ernie Smith Reserve
SD Raiders have started to wobble before the finish line, they look to defend their home turf against last ditch Marconi Stallions in a rare Sunday twilight fixture at Ernie Smith Reserve.
The Stallions have to channel Dumb and Dumber – “so you’re saying there’s a chance” they could play finals football. They would have to take maximum points in their final two games whilst getting some help from other teams.
Matt Constantini has the weight of the world on his shoulders, missing the talisman of his side, and a proliferate performance in their loss to Inter Lions has him starting to go grey. He needs Logan Garard and Kasia Wojtowicz to fire to taken down a talented Marconi side.
Those Stallions can be a side that can punish a wasteful Raiders. When on song, the Stallions cut through their opponents with ease. Captain Hannah Voloder is a key cog in their side finding the net regularly and linking with Jess Beale and Demelza Howard making this an exciting exhibition of attacking football in the south west twilight.
By Justin Davies