Macarthur Rams remain the only undefeated team in the NPL NSW Women’s competition after seven rounds but face a stern away test this week at Lambert Park against Lisa De Vanna’s APIA Leichhardt.
Manly United will welcome the Emerging Jets, while the Illawarra Stingrays host Sydney University.
High-flying Football NSW Institute will look to continue their good start to the season when the face the North West Sydney Koalas while at Peter Moore Field, Sydney Olympic take on the winless Bankstown City.
Having pulled off the shock of round seven, Blacktown Spartans will look to do it all again against the Northern Tigers.
Manly United v Emerging Jets @Cromer Park, Sunday 3pm
At Cromer Park on Sunday afternoon, Manly United and the Emerging Jets kick off the round with both teams desperate for victory.
The rut continues for Tom Hopley and his side, with their winless run stretching to five games after another defeat on the weekend.
They’ve only picked up one point in their last five matches, losing their last three and seeing them slide down the ladder to eighth place.
United sit five-points outside of finals football with fifth place having played one game less, meaning that any more points dropped will mean post-season football is slipping away.
They are conceding almost two-goals a game on average and with Remy Siemsen yet to properly hit the ground running, along with her strike partner Tara Andrews, Hopley will be hoping his stars start finding the back of the net.
Nothing but three points will be acceptable here and could push Manly up into sixth position should results go their way.
Yet to taste victory in 2021, the Jets won’t be disheartened by their beginning to the season with some solid performances along the way.
They’ve pushed both Macarthur and Olympic right to the end and been in the battle for a host of different matches.
Kirsty Fenton was in some form on Sunday and alongside Tessa Tamplin and Moana Walker, they could cause Manly some trouble.
It’d be the perfect time to strike for the Jets with confidence low at Cromer Park.
Illawarra Stingrays v Sydney University @JJ Kelly Park, Sunday 3pm
Down the south coast the Illawarra Stingrays will host Sydney University at JJ Kelly Park on Sunday.
A great start for the Illawarra Stingrays after seven rounds of football.
They currently find themselves in third place on the competition ladder with a host of players in good form and finding the back of the net.
It was Erica Halloway and Talitha Kramer’s turn on Sunday (giving superstar Michelle Carney a rest) in a tough away clash at Christie Park.
At this pace, the Stingrays will find themselves in a good place to secure finals football and a win on Sunday could see the gap from sixth further expand.
Uni’s start to the season has been somewhat inconsistent with two wins, a draw and two losses to kick off after five games.
They showed fine character against the Institute and then Spartans mid-week but threw away all their momentum with defeat against the league leaders on Sunday.
Bianca Galic is key along with Kaitlyn Torpey who has found some goal scoring form with a brace against the Spartans.
Finding the back of the net has been a problem for the Students with more than half of their season tally of goals came in one game against Blacktown.
This game becomes a six pointer and potentially could see either the Stingrays going 10 points ahead or Uni closing the gap to four points with a couple games in hand.
Sydney Olympic v Bankstown City @Peter Moore Field, Sunday, 3pm
At Peter Moore Field on Sunday afternoon, Sydney Olympic welcome Bankstown City.
Olympics disrupted start to the season due to W-League commitments has rubbed off on their form so far this season.
Consistency has been one major problem, unable to get off on a run of results so far, securing two wins, two draws and a loss so far.
With Cortnee Vine out indefinitely, Olympics other major problem is not having an out and out striker at the pointy end.
Having scored 13 goals so far in five games, George Beltsos would be happy with the attacking return.
But without someone making those ‘forward strikers runs’, it is left to Aimee Phillips, Teigen Collister and Mackenzie Hawkesby to fill the void, exuberating themselves and then not able to fulfil their own roles and duties.
So far the creativity of Teresa Polias has been missing but with the quality that both her and Taylor Ray possess, Olympic arguably have one of the best midfield combinations in the competition.
Collister leads the clubs scoring charts with five for the season, four of those coming against the Spartans a couple weeks ago.
It’s been a difficult campaign for Bankstown and that’s why they find themselves in 11th position on the ladder.
Gone are the times where you could call them ‘unlucky’, it’s now time for Matthew Costantini’s girls to start getting results.
Liana Danaskos will need to be up to the task when she comes up against the Polias-Ray combo but will need support from her team mates to get that job done.
Only scoring three goals in seven games, it’s obvious that finding the back of the net has been a major reason for the lack of results at Jensen Park.
This is where the likes of Georgia Plessas and even Olivia Price will need to step up, two players with experience and exceptional talent.
Football NSW Institute v North West Sydney Koalas @VSP, Sunday 3pm
The high-flying Football NSW Institute will host the North West Sydney Koalas at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday.
Five wins from seven matches has Jaime Gomez’s girls flying out of the blocks in 2021.
The Institute coach also believes the squad should have more letting slip a golden opportunity to defeat Sydney Uni a few weeks back.
But aside from that game, they’ve been so clinical and disciplined in how they conduct themselves and showed some level of maturity for an extremely young team.
Holly McNamara and Charlie Rule have been phenomenal so far, scoring five and four goals respectively to open the campaign.
A good attack starts from solid foundations though and the defence needs to be commended on their performances, keeping four clean sheets already this season.
Victory on Sunday keeps the side within touching distance of top placed Macarthur with the two set to meet the following week.
Finals are already slipping away from the Koalas and Adam Keramea after only seven rounds.
It seems they leave it late to snap into games and then subsequently find it too difficult to chase down the opponent.
All of their games have been very tight and difficult for opponents to break them down, thus the three draws.
Only one victory though has them down in 10th place on the ladder.
Sophie Harding is the club’s biggest threat in the front third but has only found the back of the net once in 2021 and they’ll need her firing sooner rather than later.
Should the Koalas fail to win this one, you’d feel hopes of finals football are already distinguished.
Northern Tigers v Blacktown Spartans @North Turramurra Rec, Sunday 3:30pm
In the slightly later kick off of 3:30pm Sunday, the Northern Tigers host the Blacktown Spartans.
Jason Eagar’s side has dropped points only twice this season so far, in their first match of the season and in their mid-week match last week.
Aside from those two defeats, the Tigers have been scintillating!
They are the highest scoring team in the division, averaging three goals a game with the speedy Lauren Allan leading the clubs scoring charts.
Amongst the 18 goals scored so far, they’ve spread them around with nine different players getting themselves on the scoresheet.
But, the Tigers are susceptible to the counter, as exposed by APIA in their clash last week.
The defence will need to be on full alert against a dangerous Spartans side.
A Spartans side full of confidence, after it could be said, comfortably disposing one of the competition favourites In APIA.
They were strong defensively, Tanya Borazio putting in one of the best shifts of her career with Annie Daczko, Keisha Allen and Courtney Nevin contributing to the clean sheet.
Amongst Rosie Galea and Kyra Cooney-Cross, Hana Lowry was arguably the standout performer, breaking down the opposition attacks as well as creating opportunities for her team mates.
Brad Attard will remind his team that they’re only as good as their last outing though and will expect them to go on and start a run of positive results.
APIA Leichhardt v Macarthur Rams @Lambert Park, 7pm
All eyes will be on the final match of round eight as APIA Leichhardt host the league leaders Macarthur Rams.
APIA enter this match on the back of a defeat for the first time in 2021 after going down to the Spartans last weekend.
They weren’t great against the Tigers mid-week but Lisa De Vanna finished the game on her own and brought the three points to Lambert Park.
They had no answer for the Spartans on Sunday though and didn’t look like scoring aside from Grace Maher’s set-pieces.
Without a doubt, Spencer Prior will not be happy with what he’s seen over the last two games and will expect a reaction under the lights at Lambert Park.
The long injury list hasn’t made life easy for Prior after losing Nikki Flannery for the season, while Leah Davidson, Princess Ibini, Susan Phonsongkham and others still aren’t ready to return.
A full squad will create major headaches for the APIA gaffa but right now, he needs a response against the competition front runners.
‘Macarthur will lose this week’, ‘they’re done after this one’, but we’re at round eight and the Rams sit pretty at the top of the competition ladder.
A game at a time as Stephen Peters said it and the Rams are knocking off their opponents.
Another professional performance, another three points against the 2020 Premiers and the Rams continue to march on.
Having the option to call upon Kylie Ledbrook from the bench is some asset to have and when the game is at that breaking point stage, someone with her quality has the ability to influence the result, much like she did on Sunday.
Sunday night promises to be a blockbuster with two top teams that will leave everything on the pitch for the victory.
By: NIKOLA POZDER, CHIEF NPL NSW WOMEN’S WRITER