Round 18 marks the final turn for the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens competition before it turns into a sprint to the finish for the top five. This weekend features some fascinating clashes which may boost or dash teams hopes before the final month. Let’s get onto the preview.
Match of the Round: SD Raiders FC vs Marconi Stallions, Sunday 7 July, 5pm, Ernie Smith Reserve
On the outside peering in, SD Raiders FC and Marconi Stallions clash at Ernie Smith Reserve on Sunday evening trying to claw their way back into the top five.
Sitting in sixth and seventh respectively, both sides kept their hopes alive with positive results last weekend. SD Raiders swept aside St George FC in a 6-1 romp whilst Marconi Stallions shared a point with UNSW FC as they drew 0-0.
SD Raiders FC hit their sweet spot in the performance against St George. Kristi Pavlicevic netted four goals as the home side enjoyed their return to the field. Terry Gray is stocked for plenty of options to find goals which they’ll need against the free-scoring Stallions.
For Marconi, Sunday could be the tonic to their recent woes. The Stallions can put some space between themselves and SD Raiders with a result. In Jasmin Courtenay scoring for fun and Junior Matilda Chloe Carmichael between the sticks, Matt Turvey has enough ammo to make this a mouth-watering Match of the Round.
Western NSW Mariners vs Nepean FC, Sunday 7 July, 1:35pm, Glen Willow Stadium
Looking to keep their form rolling, Nepean FC travel out to Glen Willow Stadium to take on Western NSW Mariners in the early afternoon kick-off.
Nepean FC finished off the tough part of their schedule with a tense 2-1 result against Sutherland Shire FA. They head west to Mudgee, against a Western NSW Mariners side that put together a 4-nil success against Southern Branch FC.
After their own tough run, Western NSW Mariners showed their class in their triumph against Southern Branch FC. Their two big guns in Anna Hunt and Teegan Courtney both found the back of the net and they’ll need a repeat performance against a battle-hardened Nepean FC side, looking to play spoiler in the central west.
Exhale. Nepean FC sit comfortable in fourth, taking three huge victories against their finals foes, now Alan Tasses side have to avoid slipping on a banana peel against the eighth placed Mariners. There is enough experience in defender Desiree Vassallo and midfielder Madison Mccomasky to avoid skidding off the track and dropping back into the pack.
Gladesville Ravens vs St George FC, Sunday 7 July, 3pm, Christie Park
Gladesville Ravens aim to rebound as they head back to Christie Park to take on a chastened St George FC on Sunday afternoon in a third against tenth battle.
Both are licking their wounds from losses in the last seven days. Gladesville Ravens did all the hard work to bring it back to two-all but conceded late against Central Coast Mariners. St George FC bore the brunt of a 6-1 thrashing against SD Raiders FC.
Christie Park has been a fortress for the Ravens this season. The former leaders are yet to taste defeat at the venue, with the only concession in the wild 3-3 draw against APIA. This is their second last home game for the season so will want to make their penultimate fixture a fun time for the crowd.
St George FC’s season might be at the spoiler/playing for pride stage but in Ana Araujo, the Saints have found a gem this season. Araujo scored a consolation against SD Raiders and with their established strikers and a steady keeper in Lani Dodd, there is some building blocks for the future.
Inter Lions vs Southern Branch FC, Sunday 7 July, 3pm, Concord Oval
Two sides out of the finals race but with plenty of fight – Southern Branch FC travel to Concord Oval on Sunday afternoon to take on the feisty Inter Lions.
Both sides come into the contest off losses – Inter Lions were swept aside by double figures against APIA Leichhardt Tigers and in the distance derby, Southern Branch fell 4-nil to Western NSW Mariners.
Southern Branch FC travel to Sydney full of confidence. The Nowra side took the spoils in the first meeting between the two 3-1, now look to complete the sweep. Shaylee Meehan is the focal point of their attack with six goals this season, aiming for further success on Sunday.
For Inter Lions, the second half of the season has been an improvement. Now, if they can defeat Southern Branch FC on the weekend, they can move off the bottom of the ladder. In recent weeks, goalkeeper Kasia Glennie has pulled off some impressive saves and hopefully, may have a quieter afternoon on Sunday.
Sutherland Shire FA vs Central Coast Mariners, Sunday 7 July, 3pm, Harrie Denning Centre
Top of the tree Sutherland Shire FA take on an inform Central Coast Mariners in a possible finals preview on Sunday afternoon at Harrie Denning Centre.
The lead at the top has been cut to a single point after Sutherland Shire FA fell to a 2-1 defeat in a robust clash against Nepean FC. On the other side of the scale, Central Coast Mariners left it late to deal a 3-2 success to Gladesville Ravens in the afternoon.
Despite their loss, Sutherland Shire FA are flying high. After their slight mid-season blip, they remain at the summit of the competition with the finish line in sight. Jordan Baker continues her strong form in front of goal while custodian Hannah Ryan was solid at the back with another attacking force to repel this weekend.
Central Coast remain on the hot seat in fifth. The yellow-and-navy take the best form into this contest with a seven-game unbeaten streak which has them dreaming of a repeat appearance in the Grand Final. Danielle Wise has banged goals in for fun, taking on the Sutherland Shire FA front three will make for a mouth-watering contest.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers vs UNSW FC, Sunday 7 July, 6:30pm, Lambert Park
Finishing off our weekend is a trip to Lambert Park. APIA Leichhardt Tigers host UNSW FC on Sunday night underneath the bright lights.
The Tigers head back to the fortress after piling on 12 goals against Inter Lions, taking them a point off the top of the table. UNSW FC battled hard and were disappointed to share the points in a 0-0 draw against Marconi Stallions.
APIA have made no secret of their quest for promotion. Heading into the final five weeks, they are slightly ahead of Nepean FC and Sutherland Shire FA. Ash Palombi has also gone ahead in the Golden Boot and the Tigers that have been at 50% much of the season, have turned their football to full volume for the run home.
The visitors head to Lambert without fear. Alex Nolan’s side have switched their mentality and ready to take on the competition heavyweights. They will get a huge test against APIA, and need to replicate the game plan which saw them keep Marconi to a stalemate.
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)