There was a major twist in the last round of games that have turned up the heat in the three remaining rounds in the National Premier Leagues NSW Women’s competition.
NWS Spirit v Illawarra Stingrays
The action kicks off on Saturday afternoon at Christie Park as NWS Spirit host the Illawarra Stingrays.
Spirit left it late last weekend against Manly United but managed to record the victory which more or less consolidates third spot for them.
The return of Sophie Harding will only add further depth to the squad, her presence already well felt with Sunday’s winner coming after a foul on her.
At the other end will be an Illawarra Stingrays team flowing with confidence after an incredible come from behind win over the league leaders.
Defeat against the Blacktown Spartans only two weeks ago would have made for a poor mood within the camp, but Sakura Nojima masterminded last week’s victory.
The Stingrays will come into this knowing that any points will all but secure safety in the competition for 2024.
Sydney University v Football NSW Institute
In the early game on Sunday afternoon, Sydney University will host the Football NSW Institute at Sydney Uni Football Ground.
Uni made it three games without defeat after coming from behind against the Gladesville Ravens on Sunday to earn a point in a 1-1 draw.
Holly Caspers had found the net for the first time this campaign with the late finish, something that Emily Husband’s team could have done more with this season.
The Institute suffered another defeat on the weekend, taking them to only one win in their last seven starts.
It won’t be any easier this week as they will need to do without influential goalkeeper Tahlia Franco who received her marching orders against Bulls FC Academy.
APIA Leichhardt v Gladesville Ravens
At Lambert Park at 2:55pm on Sunday, APIA Leichhardt will host the Gladesville Ravens.
It was a colossal collapse from APIA Leichhardt on Sunday and after being in the driving seat to claim the Premiership, they have now given the Macarthur Rams some hope of pinching first place.
This week Spencer Prior will need to lift his team and remind them that they are still in first place in both the Premiership race and the much-coveted Club Championship and remain on course for the Quadruple with the Sapphire Cup and potential league Grand FInal.
Star striker Holly McNamara scored a hat-trick and seems to be finding form at the right time also.
It will be a busy few weeks for the Ravens as they play catch up and try to sneak into the finals.
They have a mid-week away trip to Sydney Olympic on Thursday night before this one and will need to recover if they are to throw themselves into the mix for a Top Four spot.
Bulls FC Academy v Macarthur Rams
Also, at 2pm on Sunday in a very intriguing fixture, Bulls FC Academy host the Macarthur Rams at Northbridge Oval.
Inconsistency is what has damaged Bulls’ finals hopes over the last seven games where they have recorded two draws, two losses and three victories.
Most importantly, they are still right in the hunt for fourth place and with Aideen Keane in some good form, they may cause the Macarthur Rams some problems.
APIA Leichhardt ensured we’d have a grandstand finish in the women’s competition after suffering defeat last weekend which coincided with Macarthur’s win over Sydney Olympic.
It meant that the gap at the top of the competition table is only one point with three fixtures remaining.
It’s hard to pick a player that stands out for the Rams as all across the park they have been fantastic, making it easier to look at Stephen Peters’ biggest problem which is the ACL injury suffered by Amalia Plummer and who will step into her position.
Sydney Olympic v Manly United
At Peter Moore Field on Sunday afternoon, Sydney Olympic host Manly United.
Olympic’s finals hopes are still alive and if they are able to secure victory mid-week against the Gladesville Ravens, a win here could see them sneak into the top four by the end of the week.
They will be encouraged by the returns of Ash Irwin, Angelique Hristodooulou and Kiara De Domizio, all who managed to get some minutes under their belts against the Macarthur Rams.
Manly United have somewhat unexpectedly been drawn into the relegation battle but can distance themselves once more with a result or two on Sunday.
They lost it late last week from the spot against NWS Spirit and will need to recover from that disappointment here.
Bankstown City Lions v Northern Tigers – MOTR
The match of the round takes us to Jensen Park on Sunday at 3pm as Bankstown City Lions host the Northern Tigers.
There is so much riding on the line for both of these teams with finals football the carrot.
Bankstown did what was asked of them last week against the Emerging Jets and in the process gave themselves the best goal difference of the battling teams for fourth spot.
None of that will matter here though if they don’t take all three points as mathematically, they will not be able to catch the Tigers should they lose.
Susan Phonsongkham got herself back on the scoresheet with a brace last week and she will be key for the Lions.
The Tigers have continued their good form late in the season as they scored an impressive 3-0 win over the Blacktown Spartans with Claudia Cholakian the star of the show.
As mentioned previously, a win for the Tigers will eliminate a direct competitor for fourth spot and inch them closer to another finals appearance.
They come into this one with only one defeat in their last five games and are finishing the season strong.
Blacktown Spartans v Emerging Jets
Blacktown Football Park will be the venue for the Blacktown Spartans’ clash against the Emerging Jets on Sunday.
After their incredible win against the Illawarra Stingrays, the Spartans were brought back down to earth with their defeat against the Northern Tigers on Sunday.
There is little bearing on this game for the Spartans but they may use it as a confidence booster if they can win for their final two vital games in the season.
Time is running out for the Jets to register their first win of the season but they may feel this could be the moment.
After a few tight results and an excellent come from behind draw against NWS Spirit, they suffered a humbling defeat on Sunday at the hands of Bankstown City.