NPLW Round 4 Preview
Canberra United Academy v Monaro Panthers | Saturday, 3pm @ Hawker
Monaro continue to look for their first win this weekend when they face the Academy at Hawker Synthetic on Saturday afternoon. Panthers are at the base of the table and have already shipped 12 goals in just three matches, and relief doesn’t look to be coming this weekend against one of the best scoring sides in the competition. They have lost both of their past two by five goals to Belconnen United and Canberra FC and haven’t showed major signs of improving at the back. The synthetic will prove to be a different environment and Panthers may enjoy the flat surface away from home, but they will have to shore up at the back to be competitive here.
The Academy put three past Gungahlin in the first half last week to set up their 4-2 win and pick up their second win in a row. Ryan Grogan’s side have arguably not full hit their straps so far, and will miss Hayley Taylor-Young, Sarah Morgan and Isabel Mulhall this week so will need some reshuffling. Karly Roestbakken and Laura Hughes have impressed so far and will look to control the pace of the match this weekend, and the Academy’s quick ball movement and pace out wide can cause problems for the Monaro side. A win here will keep them on pace with the top of the table, while dropping points would not be ideal, even early in the season.
Canberra FC v Woden-Weston | Sunday, 2pm @ Deakin Stadium
Mark Risteski and Canberra FC will go for their third win in a row on Sunday afternoon as they continue their strong rebound from a Round one loss to Belconnen United. Last week brought a 5-0 win over Monaro Panthers and a jump to equal third on the table, but it was also their first game scoring more than one goal this season. They will face a Woden-Weston side far more disciplined in defence than Sunday’s opponents, but still have the firepower to break through. In both wins so far this season Risteski’s side have had far more chances than goals, and finishing those chances will be imperative this weekend against a side that can hit back.
For Woden-Weston this match is a second test against a 2017 Grand Finalist in two weeks, but Deigo Elmoudawar is likely relishing the chance for his young side to test themselves again. His side gave a good account of themselves against Belconnen United in Round Two and showed that they are likely to be in the thick of things come the end of the season. This is a rematch of last season’s Elimination Final where the Wanderers ran the eventual Champion’s close, but Elmoudawar will be hoping for a better result. Wanderers have so far taken their chances when presented and have shown glimpses of a strong counter-attacking game, which they can put to use this weekend if Canberra FC look to take the initiative and control the outing.
Gungahlin United v Tuggeranong United | Sunday, 3pm @ Gungahlin Enclosed
Crunch time is now for Gungahlin United and Tuggeranong United, as they two meet on Sunday afternoon looking to close the gap on the ladder leaders early in the season. The hosts come in on the back of two straight defeats to Canberra FC and the Academy after an opening Round win, and they performed strongly in the second half last weekend but conceding three in the first proved too much of a barrier to overcome. This new look Gungahlin side are taking a little while to get going, but are presented with a chance to play their own way this weekend against a struggling Tuggeranong side.
Tuggeranong were beaten heavily by Canberra Olympic last week, where the lack of fresh legs available showed in parts. United came out strongly in the second half but much like Gungahlin the three-nil deficit at the break had already decided the damage, and Michael Aldred must find a way for his side to come out of the blocks quickly. A goal in the first 30 seconds last week against them set the tone from the outset, something that must be avoided this week. If they can begin strongly and keep themselves in the game then this side has enough talent in certain areas to make it count and steal points.
Canberra Olympic v Belconnen United | Sunday, 3pm @ O’Connor – LIVE on BarTV Sports
Two of the competition’s form sides will clash on Sunday afternoon as Canberra Olympic host Belconnen United in a blockbuster matchup. Both sides head into this match undefeated, but it is Canberra Olympic making plenty of noise up the top of the table after a winless year at the foot of the ladder in 2017. Eddie Senatore’s recruitment of experienced campaigners and talented youth has borne fruit already, with the Olympic outfit already settled in defence and ruthless going forward. Grace’s Maher and Field have made an immediate impact through midfield, while the pairing at the back of Bec Kiting and Sally Rojahn has added stability at the back and there are scoring dangers across the park. Olympic so far appear to offer a real threat to Belconnen and Canberra FC this year and while only early days, they have the chance to prove it this week.
Belconnen meanwhile have simply continued to do their thing, with a 3-2 win over Woden-Weston last weekend keeping them in top spot with a perfect record. That win came in a testing match though, with the Wanderers pushing Belconnen for much of the 90 minutes. Antoni Jagarinec’s side will be motivated this week to come out and show they are still the best team in the competition against the new Olympic threat. One of this side’s greatest positives is that their goals can come from seemingly anywhere, with six separate goal scorers inside just three rounds of Football. That will prove to be a big test for an Olympic defence who have not faced a fully-fit top line attack just yet, and will be keen to prove their mettle against the league’s best. United will match up well with Olympic’s talented midfield though, and Jagarinec’s side still have the clear edge in experience. Michaela Day is playing some of her best football and has scored in every match so far, and will be a danger for the hosts, particularly from set pieces. As mentioned it is only early in the season, but this game can still offer a sneak peek of the season’s pointy end.