The Federation Cup done and dusted, it is time for WNPL to come back this weekend, and a chance for the bottom four teams to try and reduce the gap with the lead.
Tuggeranong United kicks off the action at Greenway Oval against Canberra Olympic on Friday night. Freshly crowned with a first ever Federation Cup, Nicole Begg’s players won’t have time to rest on their laurels.
The trip down South would be a good opportunity to put pressure on the other three teams at the top before their games on Sunday. Anything else than the three points would be seen as a misstep for Olympic.
United showed resilience and great defensive work in the late round six game again the Academy last Thursday, and they will need more of it against the title contenders this Friday. There is room for improvement offensively to reap the reward of the good performances in their own half, and hopefully Paulo Romero will be able to count of the return of some key elements missing last week.
This is not the week we would expect Canberra Croatia to abandon the front seat as they meet Wagga City Wanderers. A result in the Riverina can never be taken for granted, but the level shown by Jenny Bisset and co this season make them an outright favourite on Sunday.
The firepower of the reigning champions is simply impressive this season once again, with an average of six goals per game scored. And that is without Brittany Palombi scoring as many as we are used to.
The Wagga City Wanderers know what to expect when the red and white chequered shirts visit them. It will yet another opportunity for the young group to learn from the best in the competition, and to try and cause an upset at home. It will not be an easy task and will take a very special performance, everywhere on the pitch.
The Wanderers have conceded almost eight goal per game this season on average and need to work on the defensive end if they want to get their first point soon.
The game of the round maybe is played at Gungahlin Enclosed Oval on Sunday, where Gungahlin United will host Federation Cup runners-up Belconnen United. It has not been an easy first round of games for the Gunners, surprising sixth on the table with only a single win.
There are of course still 13 game weeks to go, but the northernmost team needs results and points fast if they want a chance to come back on the top four. It starts on Sunday against a tough opponent.
The Federation Cup Final was hard fought, and the Blue Devils gave everything to try and get that equaliser. It is now back to regular business, and time to refocus on the WNPL for Scott Conlon and his troops.
Getting so close to getting silverware could have taken a toll on the players donning the light blue jerseys, but it also surely gave them the belief that they can hold their own against any opponent.
The young Belconnen players are growing well and quick, and so long as Keira Bobbin, Olivia Bomford, Talia Backhouse and co keep their scoring form, count on the Blue Devils to fight for the top spots.
Hawker will be stage to the last game on the weekend when Canberra United Academy faces the West Canberra Wanderers late afternoon. Expect a tight game between two teams that have not been able to win against each by more than a single goal since 2018.
West Canberra won three times, the Academy twice and there was a draw in the last 6 duels the two young teams battled. Without their star player and captain Chloe Lincoln, called up once again with the Young Matildas, the task won’t be easy for the team coached by Sarah West, but it is mainly due to the talent they are facing on Sunday.
Rey Castro and his players are the real surprise of 2022. Tara Cannon is confirming all the talent she displayed at the Academy, Hattie Cram has arrived on the WNPL scene with a bang, and the experience and guidance of the likes of Melinda O’Callaghan and Sarah Whitfield helps the team improving week in week out.
The Wanderers’ ability to score goals at will makes them much more than just a solid defensive unit. They have only lost points to the top two teams so far and intend to keep their good run going.
Friday 10 June
Tuggeranong United v Canberra Olympic (Greenway Enclosed, 19:45)
Sunday 12 June
Wagga City Wanderers v Canberra Croatia (Gissing Oval, 14:30)
Gungahlin United v Belconnen United (Gungahlin Enclosed, 15:00)
Canberra United Academy v West Canberra Wanderers (Hawker Football Centre, 17:10)
|3||West Canberra Wanderers||8||6||0||2||0||18|
|5||Canberra United Academy||8||3||0||5||-6||9|
|8||Wagga City Wanderers||8||0||0||8||-59||0|
Words: Jeremy Magan