PS4 NPLW Grand Final Preview
PS4 NPLW Grand Final
Belconnen United v Canberra FC – 4:30pm Sunday – McKellar Park
After 21 rounds of regular season and three finals matches, the 2017 PlayStation4 National Premier League Women’s Grand Final is here. Belconnen United are in it once more, but they will meet Canberra FC for the third straight year.
Canberra FC progressed with a gritty 1-0 win over Gungahlin United last weekend, following their defeat of Woden-Weston in the first round of finals. Mark Risteski’s side have been consistent against the top sides so far, but are yet to beat this weekend’s opponents so far this season. Their most recent encounter came in Round 18 at Deakin where United clinched the Premiership with a one-nil win, with Risteski opting to put Chantel Jones in goal for the game, sacrificing her versatility in the middle of the park.
That was the approach for the second half against Gungahlin last weekend, where with his side a goal up, Jones was dropped out of midfield into the goals where she put on a comfortable showing. A big decision looms for Sunday’s clash regarding Jones with her calm head and great hands so important in goals, weighed up against her ability to change a game from midfield.
Grace Gill will also be a key part of this match in the midfield, and her goal in the Preliminary Final was the difference. She admitted during the week that while she was not a regular on the scoresheet, it was nice to get on the board and the same this week would be even better. Breaking down the tough Belconnen defensive unit will be key to Risteski’s plans, but they should take confidence from Gungahlin’s multiple breaches of the backline in the Qualifying Final.
For Belconnen, they now need to take just one more step to complete the treble again. Far and away the best side throughout the year, they finished seventeen points clear of Gungahlin United on the table and 19 ahead of this weekend’s opponents. The Blue Devils conceded only five goals all through the regular season, and dropped points on only two occasions.
Antoni Jagarinec’s attacking line scored an incredible 106 goals, with Maddy Whittall and Chloe Callaghan in particular combining for over 50 of those. They will be the main danger to Canberra FC’s defence, and one only needs to wind back to the 8-0 thrashing United handed out to them in the Federation Cup to know that the threat is real. They have not conceded a goal against Canberra FC this season, winning 3-0 on two occasions and 1-0 in that Round 18 match.
Having had a week off after the Qualifying Final win, Jagarinec brings in a largely full-strength squad that is well rested and prepared. The luxury of having a week off was not lost on the team, who missed a training session after that match through inclement weather. Their attacking brand of football will excel with fresh legs, and they are not short of options to come off the bench either, with super-sub Jessie Williams always primed for a big occasion. It is hard to go past this side to take the match, however the final between the two last season, similarly billed, ended up as a very even matchup and only a one-goal win for United.
Whether it is a similar result here or not remains to be seen, but Canberra FC will need to be at their absolute best if they are to wrestle the title from Belconnen’s grasp.
The match will be streamed LIVE on Youtube and Facebook thanks to BarTV Sports.