Round 21 brings the end of the regular season into sight as the battle for the Premiership and top five continues unabated. We have six mouth-watering contests that will help to decide the fate of all the sides in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens. Let’s get onto the preview.
Match of the Round: APIA Leichhardt Tigers vs Marconi Stallions, Sunday 28 July, 6:30pm, Lambert Park
There are so many stakes for this week’s Match of the Round that it could open an Outback Steakhouse. APIA Leichhardt Tigers take on Marconi Stallions under the bright lights at Lambert Park on Sunday night.
The scenario is simple for APIA to secure the Premiership, after their 5-2 result against Central Coast. Victories in their final two contests will be enough for the silverware. Coach Matt Constantini will have the side ready to complete the job and with Georgia Bridges in fine fettle alongside mid-season recruit Amy Dahdah give them a good base to perform.
The last week in July will be pivotal for Marconi’s finals chances. If they win their catch-up it will vault them back into the top five and give them almost a free hit against the ladder leaders. They also take back-to-back victories as their form line so Matt Turvey’s side are ready to rumble.
As a final appetizer for this exciting contest it will feature the top two in the Golden Boot standings. APIA’s talismanic leader Ashleigh Palombi leads the way with 27 two ahead of Marconi’s Jasmin Courtenay. Courtenay has had a stellar first season at Marconi, so we’re set for an exciting contest with goals almost guaranteed.
Western NSW Mariners vs Gladesville Ravens, Sunday 28 July, 2:35pm, Jack Brabham Park
In their penultimate home game this season Western NSW Mariners aim to play spoiler as they welcome Gladesville Ravens to Jack Brabham Park for the Sunday afternoon kick-off.
The Ravens continued their impressive form with a slick 6-nil result against St George FC. Western NSW Mariners FC are limping to the end of the season after their 2-nil loss to SD Raiders FC in windy conditions last weekend.
Job one is done for Gladesville Ravens – they have qualified for the finals. Now, they could possibly swoop in late to finish second or even take the Premiership. The Ravens have a mid-week catch up against Marconi so they might rotate some of their team for Sunday but there is enough quality in their four different goal scorers to collect another three points.
Both Western NSW Mariners last two fixtures are in Orange so there is a chance for the Mariners to cause an upset. Josh Ward might be struggling for numbers but Anna Hunt has a nose for goal and might give them some joy on the scoresheet whilst they might end up on the wrong side at full-time.
Inter Lions vs Central Coast Mariners, Sunday 28 July, 3pm, Concord Oval
After their wild encounter last weekend, Central Coast Mariners head to hopefully more serene surroundings to take on Inter Lions at Concord Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The Mariners fought hard but a late onslaught from APIA Leichhardt Tigers condemned them to a 5-2 loss at Pluim Park. For Inter Lions, they battled hard but three goals in the second half saw Sutherland Shire FA take the spoils.
Suddenly, the race is back on. Central Coast Mariners hold fifth spot by a single point from Marconi and can see the Stallions riding alongside them. Coach Dan Barrett will have to juggle his side with red cards to Jordyn Drysdale and Brooke Miller making selection tougher.
One constant for the Mariners is Danielle Wise. the striker found the net for the opener against APIA for her 24th goal of the season, so she is another that can make a late push for the Golden Boot. Inter Lions can spy the end of the season but will hope for one final moment before they sign off.
Southern Branch FC vs St George FC, Sunday 28 July, 3pm, South Nowra Football Complex
Two sides looking to finish the season on a high clash with St George FC traveling to South Nowra Football Complex to take on Southern Branch FC.
Both sides sit in the bottom half of the competition ladder coming off losses to Gladesville Ravens and Nepean FC respectively. They will eye Sunday afternoon as a big chance to have one more rendition of the team song for 2019.
These two played out an entertaining Match of the Round back in Round 10. St George FC held off a fast-finishing Southern Branch FC side for their first win of the season. Down on the south coast, Southern Branch FC have the chance to square the ledger.
UNSW FC vs Nepean FC, Sunday 28 July, 3pm, Wentworth Park
Getting themselves ready for the finals series, Nepean FC go to take Wentworth Park, taking on UNSW FC looking to keep their roll going.
Nepean FC put together a solid performance as they returned from Nowra with a 4-nil victory against Southern Branch FC. UNSW FC were thumped 7-2 against a rampant Gladesville Ravens side.
With back-to-back finals series confirmed for Nepean FC, Alan Tasses has time to figure out his side for the upcoming finals series. Stefanie Trovato is their top goal scorer with 10 goals but has gotten contributions from Imogen Lane and Annie Halls to make them a threat to any of the other top four sides.
The students are using these final games as a litmus test for themselves in preparation for next season. Coach Alex Nolan has enough at his disposal to make a push for the finals next season but they need to regularly compete and defeat teams like Nepean FC.
SD Raiders FC vs Sutherland Shire FA, Sunday 28 July, 5pm, Ernie Smith Reserve
Chasing the leaders, Sutherland Shire FA head to Ernie Smith Reserve with one goal as they take on SD Raiders FC on Sunday night, win and take the Premiership race into the final week.
Both sides come into the contest off victories – SD Raiders FC arrested their slide with a 2-nil success against Western NSW Mariners. Meanwhile Sutherland Shire FA were made to work for their 4-nil result against Inter Lions.
If Sutherland Shire FA are to overhaul the two-point deficit to claim the Premiership, they will need to continue their clinical nature in front of goal. Sutherland Shire FA has plundered 14 goals in their last three games and sharpshooter Jordan Baker could make a late play for the Golden Boot with a big performance on Sunday.
For SD Raiders FC, whilst it won’t be back-to-back finals appearances, they can still have an impact on how things shake out. In Kristi Pavlicevic, Sarah Mandile and Christina McGrath they have enough support to give their strikers a chance to upset the applecart.
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)