McKellar Park is the stage to the first game of the weekend in the Women’s NPL as Belconnen United go up against Wagga City Wanderers. Fresh off a convincing Federation Cup win, the Blue Devils will be eager to bounce back after losing at Deakin last weekend. Captain Talia Backhouse has found the back of the net the past three rounds and will expect her name to be on the scoresheet once again on Saturday.
The Wanderers are the only team still after their first point in the competition. The progress shown by the club is yet to translate on the ladder. Megan Castle and her teammates have only found the back of the net twice this season so far, a lack of efficiency that they need to correct to hope for an upset at McKellar.
Tuggeranong United celebrated their comeback to Kambah with a draw against Gungahlin United, a crucial first point in 2022 for Paulo Romero’s squad. The Tuggies’ morale must be high as they get ready to face Canberra United Academy. A win to confirm the promise they have shown so far could be on the cards. If Lauren Hall’s goal last Sunday is anything to go by, Tuggeranong are heading in the right direction.
The Academy bounced back well after losing to Belconnen two weeks ago. They will need to get the recipe out again, after losing midweek to the Blue Devils in the Federation Cup semi-finals. A win at Kambah is the opportunity for Sarah West’s group to stay in touch with the top four, before facing the might of both Canberra Olympic and Canberra Croatia in the next two rounds.
The game of the weekend maybe will be at O’Connor Enclosed, where Canberra Olympic and Gungahlin United will face each other. Nicole Begg’s team is still undefeated and will want to keep their perfect record. Led by a Meg Roden once again inspired in front of goals, they scored five against a defence that had not conceded when they brushed past West Canberra Wanderers last week. Facing Gungahlin. and their more experienced core, could be a different story for Ashleigh Sykes and cohorts.
Just like in 2021, the Gunners have not convinced early on this season. Playing Canberra Olympic and Canberra Croatia in consecutive weekends is not ideal, but it will also be an opportunity for Pat Mills and his team to put their name on the map again. Getting a result at O’Connor would be a surprise, but Gungahlin has been able to rise to their opponents’ level in the past. The Gunners will need a complete, serious performance if they want a chance at an upset on Sunday.
Canberra Croatia is the other undefeated team in competition. The return of Angelica Pahina to the league, to replace the injured Nat Vasta, is a great coup for Zoran Glavinic. The keeper has already shown her value against Belconnen United last week, and will no doubt be put to the test against West Canberra Wanderers this weekend. With Jamie Berkeley, Amy McLachlan, and Brittany Palombi back and fully fit, the reigning champions look as dominant and scary as ever for their opponents.
The Wanderers were humbled last week by Canberra Olympic after keeping consecutive clean sheets in their first four games. Their ability to bounce back in adversity will be a real test for this young group. They can cause problems for Croatia, like they did in the Charity Shield for large parts of the game, but Rey Castro will need to find the formula to prevent a second defeat in a row, although not a lot of teams travel to Deakin with the hopes of getting a point.
Saturday 14 May
Belconnen United v Wagga City Wanderers (McKellar Park, 15:00)
Sunday 15 May
Canberra Croatia v West Canberra Wanderers (Deakin Stadium, 14:30)
Tuggeranong United v Canberra United Academy (Kambah 202, 14:30)
Canberra Olympic v Gungahlin United (O’Connor Enclosed, 14:30)
|3||West Canberra Wanderers||5||4||0||1||+2||12|
|5||Canberra United Academy||5||2||0||3||0||6|
|8||Wagga City Wanderers||5||0||0||5||-39||0|
Words: Jeremy Magan