Headed into the penultimate weekend of the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens season – the Grand Final picture is almost set.
We have a barnstormer of a Preliminary Final between Sutherland Shire FA and Gladesville Ravens in their fourth meeting of the year to see who makes it to the big dance.
Preliminary Final: Sutherland Shire FA vs Gladesville Ravens, Sunday 25 August, 3:45pm, Valentine Sports Park #3
Once more with feeling! Sutherland Shire FA tangles with Gladesville Ravens for a fourth time this season, with the prize of the last Grand Final spot up for grabs Sunday afternoon at Valentine Sports Park.
How they got here:
Sutherland Shire FA has been through the finals wringer. The Shire based side beat Gladesville Ravens in a 2-1 comeback in week one then last weekend were the latest to fall at the hands of the dominant APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 4-1, but have arrived at the last chance saloon.
For Gladesville Ravens, their first finals experience has been full of twists and turns which led them to Valentine Sports Park on Sunday. Their defeat to Sutherland Shire FA in back-to-back weeks threw them into an elimination final against Central Coast – which they triumphed in a comfortable 2-nil success.
Head to Head:
Round 11: Sutherland Shire FA 2 defeated Gladesville Ravens 0
Round 22: Gladesville Ravens 0 defeated by Sutherland Shire FA 1
Finals Week 1: Sutherland Shire FA 2 defeated Gladesville Ravens 1
The key strength for Sutherland Shire FA has been the flexibility of their forwards which has shown their three different scorers this post-season (Maddison Farmer, Ursula Bratjankscak and Morgan Maxwell) and the always looming threat of Jordan Baker.
Baker might not have found the back of the net but she has played a pivotal role with some sublime passing. The equal-second top scorer has a knack of scoring the important goals – if she does that on Sunday afternoon it will go a long way to getting them to a Grand Final.
Probably the unsung heroes for Sutherland Shire FA this season is their defensive structure – defender Genevieve Nisbet and goalkeeper Hannah Ryan – the standouts. In such a tight contest their ability to keep their cool and marshal the robust attackers in the Ravens attack and keep a third cleansheet against them this season.
Moving onto the Ravens side it is a simple task for them – find the back of the net! One goal in three games against Sutherland Shire FA is their lowest return this season. Emily Diaz and Annalise Schiraldi both can fashion chances from anywhere on the park – shown by Schiraldi’s strike last weekend – and with able assists in Kasia Wojtowicz and Zoe Zaczek there is plenty of strikepower to earn them “revenge”.
The engine room for the Ravens is their midfield. Yume Kashima played a star turn in their success against Central Coast with fantastic touches and two efforts on goal which electrified the crowd. Her partner in Carlie Ikonomou causes danger when she is on the ball, with her ability to score from deep and taking on all the Ravens set pieces.
Lastly for the Ravens is their superb shotstopper Eri Arikawa. Across the season, Arikawa has produced some magnificent and world class saves which has as one of the best goalkeepers in the league. Helping her is the experience of former Olympic defender Eloise Taylor and Ashleigh Smith to try and blunt the Sutherland Shire FA attack.
What the coaches said:
Sutherland Shire FA TD Jon Long: “I’m sure Gladesville will think they are due a change of fortune against us but we know what style they will bring on Sunday. So, we’re confident going into the game next Sunday.”
Gladesville Ravens coach Albert Disciascio: “Last week served as a wake-up call for us. The priority was to win the game and move onto next week. Now, it is another meeting with Sutherland Shire FA and hopefully some revenge for us.”
Saying all that Sunday will be a fabulous showcase for the women’s game with two sides that know how to score goals and have the way their opponents play embedded into their memory with their fourth meeting. So, get down to Valentine Sports Park and see who qualifies to take on APIA Leichhardt Tigers next weekend in the decider.
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)