Belconnen United v Tuggeranong United | Saturday, 3pm @ McKellar Park
Another week, another massive clash in the context of the top four at McKellar Park. This time, Belconnen United host Tuggeranong United with the latter right back now in the finals picture after an important win over Monaro last weekend. Aisosa Ihegie and Daniel Roberts netted in the first half to give United what turned out to be an unassailable lead, and they will want to build off that here. Mitch Stevens’ team used this fixture the last time it was played as a springboard off some poor form, and won it 3-0 at Hawker with goals from Ihegie and Regan Walsh in a 15 minute second half blitz. A similar performance would be welcome here but they need to avoid a sluggish start like the one they had against Gungahlin a few weeks back. A win here jumps them over Belconnen and truly into the thick of the race for fourth with matches against Woden-Weston and the Rhinos to finish the campaign.
Belconnen drew with second-placed Canberra Olympic last weekend in a very strong performance, but will hope to show a bit more going forward this week against a Tuggeranong United backline that has kept just three clean sheets all season. McKellar has been something of a fortress for Steve Forshaw’s side this season, undefeated in five of their six games there, although that does not take in to account the clash with Gungahlin where they were down by two goals before it was halted. They’ve scored four goals each in three of those matches and a strong attacking performance in that vein would not go astray here. A win could be a huge boost ahead of finals against a fellow to-four candidate but anything else, given the situation they face on Tuesday against Gungahlin, could be a big hit to their chances.
Woden-Weston v Canberra Olympic | Saturday, 3pm @ Melrose Synthetic
A 5-1 thumping at the hands of Gungahlin last weekend has all but mathematically ruled Rey Castro’s Woden-Weston team out of the finals race, but they still have time to spoil the party of others. It will be no easy task this week though, matched up against second-placed Canberra Olympic who knocked them off 2-1 at O’Connor Enclosed earlier in the campaign. Their last victory of the season, against Tuggeranong, came the following weekend in round eight meaning it has been just over two months since they last tasted victory. Jackson Paisler’s stunning strike was a highlight in the big loss last week but too often the defence was found out by the ball movement and switching of Gungahlin. Castro’s side will need to be on their game and avoid similar lapses in concentration here if they are to take points off Olympic.
For Olympic, the equation is fairly simple in regards to the Premiership. Win out from here, including in the final round against Tigers FC and hope for Canberra FC or Gungahlin United to do them a favour somewhere in between. That task for them begins against Woden-Weston at Melrose on Saturday afternoon, and they will be looking to do it without Andre Jancevski as he serves a suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. After serving the same suspension last weekend Nathen Megic should be a welcome addition to Frank Cachia’s side and will be a big boost. If they do the business on Saturday, then there will be some keen eyes keeping watch over Nijong on Sunday afternoon.
Riverina Rhinos v Gungahlin United | Saturday, 3pm @ Solar Mad Stadium
The Riverina Rhinos will officially be relegated after this weekend if they fail to win against Gungahlin United at Solar Mad Stadium. Even if they do win, a win for Woden-Weston would produce the same result and the Rhinos should come out firing at home. A damaging loss to Canberra FC at Deakin last weekend was a rough summary of their tough campaign, with Gabriel Abdala only travelling with 12 players to Canberra. Jacob Donadel should return from suspension this week in a boost for numbers, and their effort out of the blocks will be important. Against Canberra FC they were not overrun early, but lapses of concentration is what cost them, particularly the concession of two quick goals before half-time and four goals in the final ten minutes. A big effort will be expected here to stave off the drop for at least another round.
Gungahlin United put in a second five-goal performance against Woden-Weston for the season last weekend and in the Rhinos come up against another side they put five on last time they played. Marcial Munoz’s side have now scored five goals at least four times this season and are the equal highest-scoring team in the competition with Canberra Olympic. Now in third with 19 points and a game to come against Belconnen that they will be 2-0 up in United are in an advantageous position for the top four and victory here on the road would bring them very close to being locked in for finals.
Tigers FC v Canberra FC | Sunday, 3pm @ Nijong Oval
After Canberra Olympic’s draw with Belconnen last weekend Tigers now only need to win two of their remaining matches to claim the Premiership, and they can begin that task this weekend when they host Canberra FC at Nijong. Tigers head in off their FFA Cup Round of 32 loss to Hume on Wednesday night where they put in a strong performance against the Victorians but had the bye last weekend so will still be reasonably fresh. Everyone appeared to come through Wednesday’s game unscathed and it should be a full-strength side that runs out, but they will certainly have a task on their hands. These two teams have been all but inseparable this year, drawing 1-1 in round seven before a goalless draw across 120 minutes in the Federation Cup Final saw them progress on penalties. A tough outing here but they have not conceded in 180 league minutes and will hope to continue it at Nijong.
Canberra FC put their fellow top four competitors on notice last Saturday with a 9-0 thumping of the Rhinos at Deakin Stadium and will be out to claim a big scalp on Sunday afternoon. That victory was a first league win since the 2-0 win over Canberra Olympic at Woden Park, and a visualization of the strange season the reigning Champions have had. It was also showed a good idea of what Luka Ujdur’s side can do when they finish their chances, with inconsistency in front of goal plaguing them so far. Daniel Colbertaldo returned to the lineup and played well, he will be a key cog here, while Daniel Barac and his fellow forwards looked in excellent touch. They are unlikely to be afforded as much time on the ball by the ladder-leaders as they were at Deakin, but will certainly feel up to the challenge that awaits them.