As round 16 beckons in the #NPLWNSW competition, it could be the final chance for four teams to stay in the hunt for play off football.
Blacktown Spartans v Bankstown City
It is a must win game for these two at Blacktown Football Park as the Blacktown Spartans host Bankstown City.
With three points only minutes away last weekend, the Spartans were stunned at home against the Illawarra Stingrays, succumbing to a 3-2 defeat in the dying stages of the match.
How Brad Attard’s team will bounce back from that defeat is anyone’s guess. They will also lose eight players to the Young Matilda’s as their World Cup preparation ramps up, leaving for Mexico today.
It will be a massive task for the girls from Blacktown but will also be playing with no pressure and nothing to lose.
Bankstown on the other hand have given themselves a lifeline for finals football, losing only once in their last five outings.
Keeping that positive run is key and three points here will go a long way to keeping them in the hunt. They’ve been tough to break down also since their thumping at the hands of Manly and had it not been for the five goals conceded there, they would have the second best defence in the competition.
The Spartans took all three points last time they met in a tight encounter, winning 1-0.
Emerging Jets v Sydney Olympic
Sydney Olympic make the long trip north on Sunday as they face the Emerging Jets at Lake Macquarie.
The Jets suffered another defeat last week, taking them to 13 losses for the campaign and sitting bottom with one point. They made a game of it though, just as they did the week before against Macarthur and will do so again here.
They’re back home also after a couple weeks on the road.
Olympic have had to battle without a number of their stars over the last month and have given a solid account of themselves. They came close to pinching a point last week against an in form APIA too.
They’ll be stronger for Mackenzie Hakwkesby and Cortnee Vine this week, their two most dangerous attacking threats that they have definitely missed.
It was one-way traffic when they met at Belmore earlier in the season, Olympic comfortably winning 5-0.
Macarthur Rams v Northern Tigers
Lynwood Park is the venue for Sunday’s third v Fourth clash as the Northern Tigers travel to take on the Macarthur Rams.
The Tigers form has been indifferent, winning only two of their last five and losing the stranglehold on first place that they had.
They’ll need to turn that around soon because not only have they lost first place, but could be in danger of dropping out of the top four should their fortunes not change in the next few weeks. They can hurt the Rams but will need to find form quickly to do so.
Maddie Bart and Hannah McNulty are weapons in the front third as is Shadeene Evans who returned to the squad last week.
They will also be without Ella Tonkin who is another on her way to Mexico with the Young Matilda’s.
At Lynwood on the other hand, they sense an opportunity to overtake their rivals with a victory on Sunday evening.
Two straight victories after going a month winless, the Rams are turning the corner at the right time and will want to head into this final third of the season at full steam.
Laura Murtagh was finally back on the scorers’ sheet as was Leena Khamis and they could be keen for the Rams in the attacking third.
A lone goal was enough the last time these two met with the Tigers taking the points.
NWS Spirit v Manly United
It’s derby after derby as this time NWS Spirit host Manly United at Cromer Park on Sunday night.
A change of coach and a change of fortunes as the improvements continue for Spirit. They pushed the league leaders and the most in form team in the competition all the way on Sunday, losing by a freak goal.
Tiana Gauci’s role as head coach is to achieve the best possible results, and by doing that, Spirit will move up the ladder and get closer to their rivals, like Manly who are currently only four points ahead of them.
United registered another draw last Sunday night. Draw number nine of the season and we must be getting close to some sort of record now for most draws in a season. Had Tom Hopley’s team only turned half of those into victories, they’d be right up there in the finals mix.
Manly has not won in over a month now and failure to do so again on Sunday will almost extinguish all hopes of finals football.
You also guessed it, they drew last time they met in an enthralling 3-3 draw.
APIA Leichhardt v Sydney University
All eyes will be on the final fixture of Sunday night at Lambert Park as second placed APIA Leichhardt host league leaders Sydney University.
They are currently the two teams with the best form stats in the competition heading into this one. Uni don’t know for defeat since their second game of the season defeat, while APIA haven’t lost in six weeks.
APIA played some good football last week but struggled to break their opponents down. The winner eventually came in the dying embers of the game but it didn’t matter as the points stayed at Lambert Park.
Shea Connors is without a doubt a standout for APIA but with the incredibly calm Sarah Hunter leaving for international duty, APIA will have some gap to plug up. Princess Ibini will be back from international duty this week, having watched her team mates from the sideline on Sunday.
Spirit made it tough for Uni last week but when you are at the top of the competition, confident and in form, things go your way. Only conceding six goals this season, Uni’s defence will need to be at their best to stop APIA’s top scorer Connors.
Should Emily Husband’s team record all three points in this top of the table clash, they will definitely have placed one hand on the Premiership trophy.
Sydney Uni took the spoils last time they met with a 2-0 victory, a comfortable three points on that occasion.
Illawarra Stingrays v Football NSW Institute PP
-By NPL NSW Women’s Chief Writer and Commentator Nikola Pozder