It’s a Super Sunday of finals action in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens competition. Two mouth-watering fixtures which will help to solve the jigsaw puzzle that is the Grand Final picture in a fortnight.
Semi-Final 1: APIA Leichhardt Tigers vs Sutherland Shire FA, Sunday 18 August, 6:15pm, Lambert Park
Enter the Tigers.
The APIA Leichhardt Tigers host the Major Semi-Final for the first spot in the Grand Final against Sutherland Shire FA this Sunday night at Lambert Park.
The Premiers enjoyed a week off which has allowed them to bring back some important pieces to their side. APIA Leichhardt Tigers are ready to add the final jewel in their crown as they aim for Grand Final success.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers were the standard bearers this season. The Tigers lost their opening fixture of the season, 2-1 to Gladesville then ripped off 21 straight unbeaten games to sweep to the Premiership. In that streak, there was a six-game run where they conceded no goals so it no mean feat to take them down.
Central to their success was Ashleigh Palombi, this season’s Golden Boot. In her second season in NPL2NSW Women’s she smashed home 32 goals and her partnership with new signing Georgia Bridges brought an extra dimension to their attack.
Behind their twin strike force, APIA start plenty of their work through both fullbacks – Jennifer Bisset and Jennifer Bennett – that help their midfield generate the 105 goals across the regular season. It will take a mighty effort to knock over the Premiers.
Sutherland Shire FA got past the first stage of the finals crucible, putting together a comeback to defeat Gladesville Ravens 2-1. Sutherland also were one of three sides to take points off APIA in a 2-2 draw back in Round 2.
Finishing in second spot, Sutherland Shire FA showed their grit in the comeback. Goals of Maddison Farmer and Ursula Bratjanscak were enough to give them this chance to be the first into the Grand Final.
It was a rare off-night for sharpshooter Jordan Baker, with only the ninth time she hasn’t been on the scoresheet. Her tireless work behind the defense whilst it didn’t result in goals, gave Gladesville and this weekend’s opponent APIA food for thought.
One of the unsung heroes for Sutherland Shire FA is goalkeeper Hannah Ryan. She came in mid-season after the horrible injury to first choice Chloe Avgoustou and has shined. Ryan made some fantastic saves against Gladesville and needs a similar performance against the APIA firepower.
Semi-Final 2: Gladesville Ravens vs Central Coast Mariners, Sunday 18 August, 3:45pm, Valentine Sports Park #2
There is one shot, one opportunity for Gladesville Ravens and Central Coast Mariners to advance in Semi-Final #2 on Sunday afternoon at Valentine Sports Park.
Coming into this semi-final, Central Coast Mariners are riding the wave of their 4-2 extra-time victory over Nepean FC which kept their season alive. Gladesville Ravens lost 2-1 to Sutherland Shire FA and have activated their second chance card due to finishing third.
Looking at the tale of the tape, Gladesville hold a slight edge going into this encounter – they won 3-2 in Round 17 up at Pluim Park. Their earlier game was Match of the Round and was a nil-all draw so safe to say there isn’t much between the two sides.
The stakes are high Sunday afternoon – the season is over for the loser. Central Coast Mariners are on the hunt for back-to-back Grand Final appearances while Gladesville Ravens are looking to extend their first taste of post-season football for another week.
Once the glow has faded for Central Coast Mariners after their dramatic victory, Dan Barrett has some tough choices to make with his side. He has injuries and suspensions to deal with but one thing remains, the yellow-and-navy are always tough to beat.
Key to that is striker Danielle Wise. Despite being well-marshalled all contest, she struck in extra-time to send the Mariners on their way. Dan Barrett underlined the importance of Wise post-match “she only needs one chance to strike”. Her combination with Gabrielle Blanch is central to their success.
For Gladesville, it is about being clinical in front of goal. There were enough chances in the first half to give them a comfortable lead but wasn’t to be. Sharpshooters Emily Diaz and Annalise Schiraldi will be keen to repent against the yellow-and-navy.
Yume Kashima in her first season has been a revelation in the midfield for Gladesville Ravens. She was her usual busy self on the weekend, and her work alongside Carlie Ikonomou is the key ingredient to feeding their powerful strikeforce.
Sunday afternoon shapes up as a mouth-watering contest as two sides with their season on a line come together as the finals crucible cranks it up another notch. Enjoy the games this weekend!
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)