Is it too early to talk about best of the rest? Olympic and Croatia seem to be dominating to competition this season, leaving Belconnen United and the West Canberra Wanderers fighting for the 3rd or 4th spot with the Canberra United Academy and Gungahlin – with, at the end, a real chance at a championship.
The squad coached by Scott Conlon is on a solid run with 15 goals scored last week in two games, but a trip to Melrose is never easy to negotiate. The Blue Devils have countless weapons offensively, and they will need them to shake the solid Wanderers’ defence.
Rey Castro held an upset for almost half an hour against the reigning champions on Sunday, before the Croatia road rollers went into second gear. Playing on their synthetic will be an easier task than on the damp Deakin grass for the Wanderers, and the size of the pitch might be an extra advantage to avoid being surprised by the speed of the Belconnen’s forwards.
West Canberra have a few weapons of their own, starting with the fiery Hattie Cram, a relentless worker, and comfortable with ball at feet. Expect an entertaining showdown at Melrose.
In a duel between the two teams still after their first win, the Wagga City Wanderers face Tuggeranong United. At Gissing Oval, the Wanderers will need a bit more tightness in defence to avoid conceding as much if they want to get something from their game against the Tuggies.
Last year, the group then coached by Sam Gray got a win at home 3-0 in Round 9, but the group has evolved since, Gray is gone, and more importantly, their opponents are somewhat stronger than in 2021.
Paulo Romero indeed is reaping the fruits of his hard work in south Canberra. The point obtained against Gungahlin could not be confirmed the following week, with the Academy game postponed, so Tuggeranong will be keen to make that trip to the Riverina count!
Gissing Oval is familiar to at least one player in the green and white outfit, since it will be the first time Sam Emms goes back to her old stomping ground with a different jersey on.
Women’s NPL leaders Canberra Croatia are making the trip north to face Gungahlin United. The Gunners have been inconsistent in recent weeks. Unable to beat Tuggeranong two weeks ago, they fought until the last minute to steal a point at O’Connor on Sunday.
Pat Mills is finally close to have his full squad back after a complicated start of 2022, and the impact Michelle Heyman has had on the team already can’t be understated.
The reigning champions are experiencing something new this year. After being rather spared the last two seasons, Zoran Glavinic’s troops are seeing injuries creeping up in their ranks.
After Nat Vasta’s broken ankle, Bella Tammaro, Alice Churchill, and Bella Barac were sidelined last week. Luckily for Canberra Croatia, it is the time Brittany Palombi chose to launch the quest for her fourth consecutive Golden Boot, scoring four against West Canberra. Her partnership with Grace Gill is lethal and will undoubtedly be a source of worries for the Gunners.
Canberra United Academy will close the game week at home against Canberra Olympic. Sarah West’s protégées were rested last week after their game in Kambah was rained out, a welcome weekend off after playing a busy month of football.
Against 2nd spot Canberra Olympic, Sofia Christopherson and her teammates will need to be at the top of their game if they want a result. They should be able to count on their captain Chloe Lincoln, back from the Young Matildas camp, to try and stop the O’Connor armada.
Canberra Olympic’s experienced players will be put to the test against the Academy on their turf. You would forgive Nicole Begg’s players for feeling a bit of fatigue after two intense games last week, including some late drama against the Gunners. In Hawker, expect another full shift from Michaela Thornton, instrumental since the start of the season, to help her team stay at arms’ length of WNPL leaders Canberra Croatia.
Sunday 22 May
West Canberra Wanderers v Belconnen United (Melrose Synthetic, 12:45)
Wagga City Wanderers v Tuggeranong United (Gissing Oval, 14:30)
Gungahlin United v Canberra Croatia (Gungahlin Enclosed, 15:00)
Canberra United Academy v Canberra Olympic (Hawker Football Centre, 17:10)
|4||West Canberra Wanderers||6||4||0||2||-3||12|
|5||Canberra United Academy||5||2||0||3||0||6|
|8||Wagga City Wanderers||6||0||0||6||-48||0|
Words: Jeremy Magan