Round 16 was full of massive fixtures in the #NPLWNSW competition with one team taking a major leap toward securing the Premiership.
Blacktown Spartans 1-2 Bankstown City
Bankstown City kept themselves in the hunt for finals football with a tight victory over the Blacktown Spartans at Blacktown Football Park.
It took the visitors only 9 minutes to hit the front. Liana Danaskos put the Lions in front with her first goal of the season to give them the perfect start.
They kept the pressure up after that but couldn’t add to lead going into half time.
But 10 minutes into the second half they took advantage and doubled their lead. A corner to the back post was capitalised on by Demi Koulizakis whose bullet header found the back of the net.
Brad Attard’s team needed a quick response but it didn’t arrive until the 85th minute.
Ash Crofts was on hand to score her eighth of the season, capitalising on a fine through ball by Maja Markovski and finishing expertly.
It was Bankstown that finished the match stronger with some fine game management.
Emerging Jets 0-1 Sydney Olympic
It was a much better performance by the Emerging Jets this week as Sydney Olympic had to work hard to break them down.
Just the odd goal but it was enough for Olympic to register a major three points in their hunt of fourth place.
Sarah Yatim picked up the ball on the right and let fly with a powerful first time effort giving Behne-Smith no chance in the Jets goal.
Olympic won the reverse game 5-0, showing an extreme improvement from the Jets.
Olympic face a difficult run home now with a heap of games to come in the next 6 weeks as they try to run down that coveted fourth place.
Macarthur Rams 1-1 Northern Tigers
It was third v fourth at Lynwood Park as the Macarthur Rams and Northern Tigers shared the spoils.
Stephen Peters welcomed Sham Khamis back to the Rams line up on Sunday but it didn’t change much early on.
The Rams were punished for a slow start as the Tigers hit the front after three minutes. A loose ball on the edge of the area had Izzy Gomez getting onto the end of it, blasting her volley beyond the returning Khamis.
Macarthur responded well to going down, Mel Caceres in particular putting up a fine performance.
Khamis went close first off for the home team, latching onto a long ball from Lauren Keir, only for Morgan Aquino to save the attempted lob.
Patty Charalambous was next to test Aquino with a fantastic effort, forcing the Tigers keeper into a spectacular save.
With the danger not full averted and cleared, the Rams came back at the Tigers again, this time through Caceres who was clipped on her way into the box, with the referee pointing to the spot.
Charalambous stepped up and beat Aquino, blasting her effort down the middle of the goal to put the Rams level.
The second half saw the home team continue where they left off, Caceres and Beth Gordon dominating midfield.
Half chances fell to Khamis, Murtagh, Gordon and Caceres but with Malia Steinmetz being colossal at the back for the Tigers, it was difficult to break them down.
The best chance of the second half fell to substitute Danielle Bishop with only minutes remaining. Charalambous played in a fine ball for Bishop and with Aquino committed, all the substitute had to do was get a foot to the ball which she failed to do.
Despite their late pressure, the Rams could not create another notable opportunity.
NWS Spirit 1-1 Manly United
Manly United recorded their 10th draw of the campaign on Sunday night as they were held at Christie Park by NWS Spirit.
Spirit entered this one having taken the league leaders all the way last week but falling just short of picking up some points against them.
They brought that form into this week but could not break Manly down in the first half, the teams going into half time locked at 0-0.
Spirit continued the second half the way they played the first and thought they had the lead 10 minutes into the second half, only for Tahlia Macri to be in an offside position.
In the 67th minute Manly was in front though. Nicole Stuart crossed into the box, Yuka Honda flicked her header on before Tegan Biasi headed over Katie Offer in the Spirit goal.
It didn’t take long for Spirit to equalise through former Manly star Sunny Franco. Sophie Harding, herself a former Manly player, combined with Franco who slotted the ball into the back of net to bring Spirit level.
There were no more goals as the two settled for their second draw against each other this season.
APIA Leichhardt 0-1 Sydney University
Sydney University continue their march toward the Premiership, edging one step closer after a one-goal victory over second placed APIA Leichhardt.
They score, they soak up pressure, leave with a clean sheet and all three points, that is the summary of Emily Husband’s team.
Uni hit the front after 19 minutes following an error by APIA in midfield. Rola Badawiya took full advantage of the error, picking up the ball and firing a thunderbolt beyond Sarah Langman.
It was an excellent finish by Badawiya who after a slow start to the season has been on fire of late, scoring her seventh of the season.
From there, first Estelle Fragalle went close from distance before the Uni defence somehow kept out the ball following an APIA corner.
Just before the break Rhianna Pollicina let fly with a thunderbolt of her own, her shot slamming against the crossbar.
APIA continued their pressure in the second period and 10 minutes into the second half, Courtney Newbon made a fine save from Shea Connors to keep the home side and the American striker at bay.
APIA huffed and puffed but couldn’t break down the Uni wall as the Students continued their fine run, stretching it to 13 games undefeated.
Illawarra Stingrays v Football NSW Institute PP
-By NPL NSW Women’s Chief Writer and Commentator Nikola Pozder