Five points separate the top four after 11 rounds of the #NPLWNSW competition with a few more hoping to throw their hats in for finals football.
We are on the home stretch now and there can be no more mistakes for most teams.
Bankstown City v Macarthur Rams
Jensen Park will be the venue for Sunday’s clash between Bankstown City and the Macarthur Rams.
Since their massive win two weeks ago against APIA, Bankstown have not been able to back that up in their next two games, capitulating in the second 45 against Manly and drawing blanks against the Institute on the weekend.
A win here would slot them just behind the Rams who sit just outside the top 5. A loss though would really dent Matthew Costatini’s finals hope. A team that on their day can beat the best but just like that can also lose to those less fancied.
You can’t really say Sunday’s loss was a shock but when taking into consideration the Rams’ form and their performance last week, you would have put them in a good position to take the spoils. It was their first loss after going four games on the bounce without defeat.
It did not seem like a typical Rams performance and they were punished by their opponents. They sit outside the five but a win could propel them to third place on the ladder.
Macarthur have only three games at home in the second half of the season and won’t have the advantage of Lynwood Park as much as they would like.
When these two met back in round one, the Rams came away with all three points with a 3-1 victory. It was not as straight forward as the result seems though with Bankstown definitely feeling as though they should have got more from that one.
Northern Tigers v Emerging Jets
It’s first against last at North Turramurra Rec Area on Sunday as the Northern Tigers host the Emerging Jets.
After a fantastic start to the season, the Tigers lost their first match of the year last Sunday. Despite that defeat, they remain at the top of the competition ladder.
Ash Brodigan has been in excellent form and comes up against her A-League Women’s employers here, looking to do some damage. For only the second time in the season, the Tigers didn’t score a goal and Brodigan, Hannah McNulty and Maddie Bart will need to set the record straight.
There was definite improvement in the ranks at the Jets until Spirit came to town last week. The Jets suffered another heavy defeat and will need to regroup and refocus again.
These two met just over 20 days ago in a round one re-scheduled fixture. The Tigers came away with a commanding 5-0 victory and will be hoping for the same again.
Manly United v Football NSW Institute
The Football NSW Institute travel north to face Manly United at Cromer Park.
Two defeats, a win and a draw has seen Manly’s form dip and rise over the last month. This has resulted in them sitting in seventh position on the ladder.
They are yet to taste defeat at home this season and they have made Cromer Park a fortress difficult to take points from.
Victory for Manly would move them back into the five and having played a full quota of games, it is imperative they win to remain within touching distance of their rivals.
Only one win in the first half of the season has the Institute sitting in 10th place. They have been much better than their ladder position suggests and could do some damage in the second half of the season.
Their third straight away game, the Institute could feel they could cause some damage here against Manly.
Two teams with the most draws in the competition face off here and you guessed it, they drew when they met in round one, 0-0.
Sydney University v Blacktown Spartans
All eyes will be on the round 12 clash at Sydney University Football Ground as Sydney Uni host the Blacktown Spartans.
When these two met last time, you could say it was a real tactical battle which the Spartans managed to sneak away all three points from with a 1-0 win.
That loss remains Sydney Uni’s only loss this season, winning five and drawing three since that match.
Uni come into this one inflicting the league leaders with their first defeat of the season. Taren King returned to the squad in the heart of defence and Uni looked extremely difficult to break down. Only one point off first place and a game in hand, Uni are in pole position to return to the top of the table.
The Spartans took a confidence lifting come from behind win against Sydney Olympic on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t Brad Attard’s teams best performance on the weekend but a team that win when they aren’t performing at the best of their capabilities, are signs of a quality unit.
Until Sunday, the Spartans weren’t in the best form over the last month, losing two and drawing the other. Attard will be hoping the win on Sunday will be a confidence boost, in particular for Rosie Galea who had a good game.
These two have only conceded 11 goals between the two of them which would still make them the best defence in the competition, incredibly.
NWS Spirit v APIA Leichhardt
At 5pm on Sunday night NWS Spirit will host APIA Leichhardt at Christie Park, also known as ‘The Arctic Circle’.
Picking up only their second win of the season last round, NWS Spirit enter this one with wind in their sail. It was a dominant victory for Spirit with Rachael Patterson and Tahlia Macri both scoring doubles.
They made APIA work for it when they played back in round one and will be hoping to go a step further and take some points at home.
APIA has won two in a row now but their performance on Sunday against the Macarthur Rams was probably the best of the campaign with Nikki Flannery putting in a fine performance.
Two straight clean sheets will also be encouraging for Spencer Prior and his team as they look to throw themselves back into the premiership mix. A tough run of fixtures lie ahead for APIA and this would be the perfect way to kick it off.
Sydney Olympic v Illawarra Stingrays
The round finishes off on Sunday night at Belmore Sports Ground as Sydney Olympic face the Illawarra Stingrays.
George Beltsos’ depleted team put up a brave fight last Sunday and would have left Blacktown Football Park they didn’t go home with at least a point. Missing five of their super stars, Olympic took the lead and looked on their way until two errors cost them the game.
If Olympic can repeat that performance and minimise those errors, they should be able to take the points on Sunday. Sarah Yatim and Claudia Cholakian both stepped up for Beltsos and put in fine performances, much will be expected of them again this week.
The Stingrays finally came back home last week and celebrated that return with their third win of the season. Chloe Middleton scored two, one of those an absolute worldie to secure the three points for the south coast side.
A victory for the Stingrays puts them closer to the finals, in particular with two games in hand, they can really throw themselves in the mix for the top five.