The first round of the #NPLWNSW competition comes to an end this week as we reach the half way mark with the Northern Tigers at the top of the table.
Only four points separate second to seventh on the ladder with some important fixtures taking place this week.
Emerging Jets v NWS Spirit
It’s last against second last at Lake Macquarie on Sunday as the Emerging Jets host NWS Spirit in the first game of the afternoon.
There has been visible improvement from the Jets in the last month and aside from the 5-0 defeat to the Northern Tigers, they have been right in the battle in the other three matches.
In that time, they secured their first point of the season and will feel quietly confident going into this game to add to their tally of points.
In short, more was expected at Christie Park for 2022. They have struggled to put it together and have been on the back of some heavy defeats.
After coming from behind to draw with Manly, defeating Bankstown, you would not have been mistaken for thinking they had turned a corner. That win was followed by a 6-1 drubbing by Olympic and another defeat to the Institute.
Should Spirit lose here, the Jets will find themselves on equal points with their rivals.
Bankstown City v Football NSW Institute
At Jensen Park on Sunday afternoon, Bankstown City host the Football NSW Institute.
Frustrating. It is the best way to describe Bankstown City at this point of the season and Matt Costantini will not be feeling any better in the Jensen Park dugout.
Consistency has been the major issue for Bankstown and after two phenomenal results against the Northern Tigers and APIA Leichhardt, City was pummelled by Manly on Sunday afternoon. It was a second half capitulation after they led at the break and Bankstown throughout this season have been a strong second half team which only added to the surprise.
It was the Institute’s heaviest defeat on Sunday afternoon of the season as they went down to Sydney Olympic.
The young side had recorded their first win of the season the week before and despite being understrength, put up a good fight last weekend. They should have their top players back this week and will be confident they can inflict some damage on Bankstown.
Illawarra Stingrays v Manly United
JJ Kelly Park is down as the venue for this one but will the Illawarra Stingrays finally host a game this season at their home ground is the question as Manly United come to town.
It’s been a tough campaign for the Stingrays this season with the above issues along with a range of others. They haven’t given up though and have been competitive. They could have hit the front last week against the league leaders but their captain fantastic Michelle Carney could not put away the spot kick.
They will feel they can come away from this one with something and potentially kick start their campaign. They have played two games less also so a win here is almost imperative for the Stingrays.
Manly United cracked into the top five after their big win on Sunday and will hope to stay there beyond this weekend. It was some second half performance from Tom Hopley’s team, coming out and blasting five un-answered goals.
They have still only lost one match this season, an incredible feat for this team. Six draws though haven’t really helped United and they will need more results like that from Sunday.
Macarthur Rams v APIA Leichhardt
Another massive fixture takes place at Lynwood Park on Sunday as the Macarthur Rams face off against APIA Leichhardt.
The Rams are coming and they are coming hard. One of their best performances of the season ended in a draw but they showed great character to take a point after being down a goal and a player after Alex Huynh was sent off.
They will need to do it without their leading central defender this week and Holly Williams will need another repeat performance. Leena Khamis has played herself into form and if she performs as she did on Sunday, the APIA defence will have their hands full.
Something is not right at APIA at the moment. They sit in seventh place and finals football could start getting away from them should they not win here. Their hopes of finishing top with the squad they have are almost extinguished, sitting eight points behind the league leaders.
They will be missing some key players this week, including Tori Tumuth who had to go off injured on Sunday night with a suspected serious injury. Shea Connors has been their most potent player and will need to test the Rams defence in this one.
Sydney University v Northern Tigers
It’s a top of the table clash at Sydney University Football Ground as the first placed Northern Tigers take on the second placed Sydney University.
Uni managed to come away with a point from a tough clash at Lynwood Park on Sunday where they were not at their best. Having lead though and having a player more on the park, they probably should have taken all three points.
Holly Caspers was dangerous against the Rams and has been one of Uni’s best this season. She will be key on Sunday to what Emily Husband’s team does in the attacking third.
The Tigers managed to extend their lead at the top of the table after registering their sixth win of the season and remain the only undefeated team in the competition.
Blacktown Spartans v Sydney Olympic
What a cracker this promises to be at Blacktown Football Park on Sunday afternoon as Sydney Olympic travel to take on the Blacktown Spartans.
The Spartans were at the top of the table a few weeks ago, they now sit in sixth place, albeit with two games in hand. That’s how quickly things can change in the top tier of women’s football in NSW.
A Spartans victory on Sunday could move them above their opponents should they win their mid-week clash with the NWS Spirit. Finding the back of the net remains an issue for the Spartans and something coach Brad Attard will be working on.
Two games in hand, third place and some fine form. Seven games without defeat for George Beltsos’ team and they are scoring at will as well as holding the fort defensively.
We know that this team really does not have many weaknesses, if any and their strength is all over the park.
Having been selected into the Matildas squad, there will be no Taylor Ray, Mackenzie Hawkesby, Winonah Heatley and Cortnee Vine. How will Olympic cope without their four stars with the likes of Sarah Yatim having to step up.
-By NPL NSW Women’s Chief Writer and Commentator Nikola Pozder