The half-way point of the season is here with premiership and finals battle only just heating up in the NPL NSW Women’s competition.
The Spartans will look to continue their rise up the ladder this week, while Manly will be looking for back to back wins.
Bankstown are flying high and welcome Sydney University full of confidence and it’s a massive clash at Valentine Sports Park as the Institute host the Northern Tigers.
At Christie Park, coming off a win, the Koalas face APIA and the round is completed at Lynwood Park as Sydney Olympic take on the Macarthur Rams.
Blacktown Spartans v Emerging Jets@ Blacktown Football Park, 3pm
The Blacktown Spartans will continue their ascension up the competition ladder when they face off with the Emerging Jets at Blacktown Football Park.
Since that heavy defeat to Sydney Olympic, the Spartans have only lost to Sydney Uni and are one of the form teams of the competition.
Losing two stars in Kyra Cooney-Cross and Courtney Nevin to the Matildas, you wouldn’t have been mistaken if you thought the Spartans would struggle.
They came out of a tough away clash at JJ Kelly Park with all three points and a brace to Maja Markovski, scoring six goals in her last three games.
Ash Crofts also managed to find the net for the first time this season and now Brad Attard will expect one of his best attacking threats to kick into gear.
A win for Attard’s girls could push them into the top five for the first time since round two.
The Jets continue to battle away but go home with nothing to show for their fight.
They put on a solid display once more on Sunday but weren’t able to secure anything against Bankstown.
It seems as though they can’t sort out costly errors, literally giving away goals to their opposition.
Experience is a key factor and they’ll hope to improve as the season progresses.
Manly United v Illawarra Stingrays @Cromer Park, Sunday 3pm
At Cromer Park on Sunday, Manly United will host the Illawarra Stingrays.
Finally! A win against one of their finals contenders, in last season’s grand final rematch.
It could well be the turning point for Tom Hopley’s side who haven’t been all that bad but have more so struggled to keep concentrated for 90 minutes.
They got the job done last week against Uni and know that a win here will see them jump above the Stingrays and stay close to the top five.
Remy Siemsen is in good form and is leading the side as she is expected to, along with Caitlin Jarvie and Nicole Stuart who had a fine game over the weekend.
They’ve only scored two wins in their last eight games though and cannot afford to drop too many more points this season, in particular against direct competition.
With no Caitlin Cooper, the question becomes, can the Stingrays put up a real fight?
They did so for 45 minutes on Sunday but fell away in the second period and ended up losing heavily.
Michelle Carney leads the club scoring charts with eight and she is vital to this team creating opportunities and scoring goals in the final third.
But it’s at the back where they’ll need to tighten things up, in particular with their leader missing.
Bankstown City v Sydney University @Jensen Park, Sunday 3pm
High-flying Bankstown City will welcome Sydney University to Jensen Park on Sunday afternoon.
Two straight wins has Matthew Costantini and the Lions finally feeling good about themselves.
They’ve come close and played good football for long parts of the season but things finally seem to be clicking into place for them.
Bankstown managed to score more goals in the last two games as opposed to the whole season so far and it looks to be clicking now where it matters most.
Olivia Price had a brace over the weekend and will do the world of good to her confidence as she is a major part of what the Lions do.
A few wins in a row had Uni as the inform competition team but they were quickly brought back down by Manly last week.
They’ll need to bounce back this week but it definitely won’t be a walkover.
Kaitlyn Torpey leads the scoring charts for the premiers but would want to forget last week’s guilt edged opportunity against APIA.
Uni has shared the goals around though, with eight different scorers already this campaign.
Football NSW Institute v Northern Tigers @VSP, Sunday 3pm
Football NSW Institute will host the Northern Tigers at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday afternoon.
Institute, third and the Tigers, second, both have first place ambitions and three points here will be imperative.
For the first time this season, the Institute are winless in back to back games.
They’ve been ruthless this year and bounced back following defeat two weeks ago to put in a fine performance against APIA and go home with a draw.
But more dropped points could put them further away from the premiership fight they currently find themselves in.
Charlie Rule has been incredible, as has Holly McNamara and these two provide much of the attacking spark for the Institute.
With Bryleeh Henry due to return in a few weeks, if the young stars can stay within touching distance of first place, we could see them seriously in the mix at the pointy end.
‘The curse of the commentator’ said Jason Eagar after last Thursday’s loss. Two of the side’s three defeats this season have come when yours truly is on the microphone.
But the Tigers have managed to only win half of their away matches this season, three wins and three defeats.
An emphatic win at home against the league leaders pushed the Tigers into second placed and they’ll be disappointed they didn’t turn up mid-week as they could’ve been in first place.
Lauren Allan, Aideen Keane and Shay Evans have all been amongst the goals in recent weeks but special mention must go to Malia Steinmetz who is in some form when it comes to scoring screamers, her most recent over the weekend.
Winnie Heatley has been a rock at the back and her leadership from the back is important to what Eagar’s team does.
NWS Koalas v APIA Leichhardt @Christie Park, Sunday 6pm
APIA Leichhardt travel to Christie Park on Sunday night to take on the North West Sydney Koalas.
It was a long time between drinks for Adam Keramea’s side but finally, after six weeks they managed to register their second win of the campaign.
And it came against non-other than premiership hopefuls Sydney Olympic and they did it away from home.
They need to build on those three points now against APIA after what has been a tough campaign.
Rachael Soutar and Sophie Harding are so vital to the Koalas and if they are on their games, the going could get tough for the visitors.
APIA are desperate for a win after going three straight matches without a victory.
Those matches did come against Olympic, Sydney Uni and the Institute but with a team like the one Spencer Prior has acquired, results are expected against everyone.
Prior won’t be looking for excuses though and will expect his team to turn the form around and get the job done come Sunday.
Rhianna Pollicina has been one that has managed to pull the side out when the going gets tough in the past but hasn’t been at her sparkling best yet this season.
Grace Maher is the form APIA player, having scored three goals in as many games over the last two weeks.
Macarthur Rams v Sydney Olympic @Lynwood Park, Sunday 7pm
The round concludes with a blockbuster at Lynwood Park as the Macarthur Rams welcome Sydney Olympic.
Macarthur, current league leaders, suffered defeat last weekend in fairly convincing fashion to the hands of the Northern Tigers.
More concerning for Stephen Peters was the injuries to both central defenders Renne Rollason and Holly Williams.
They’ve been here before though and bounced back the following week in style, something Peters will expect from his team.
Right now, they lead the race, but will the Rams have the stamina to hold onto first place moving into the second round of competition?
Leena Khamis and Mel Caceres will be key. Khamis the club’s leading scorer, Caceres the creative midfielder, returning from injury.
Just when you think Olympic are on their way and there will be no stopping them, they fall over.
After seven games without defeat, and four wins on the bounce, Olympic slipped up at home Sunday to the Koalas.
George Beltsos’ team has done well without the charismatic midfield magician Teresa Polias (return imminent) but need points here to keep in touch with the Rams.
In Polias’ absence, it’s been Mackenzie Hawkesby who has been the star, along with Sarah Yatim’s return to the squad.
A defeat could see Olympic fall eight points off the pace and they’ll be desperate to avoid that.
BY: NIKOLA POZDER, CHIEF NPL NSW WOMEN’S WRITER