So first of all, apologies for the lack of posts this week but have been struck down by unfortunate case of killer flu. Next week will (hopefully) be back to normal. But before then we have a whole of Round 4 to go and it's going to provide some crackers. Just thinking of last year's game between Canberra United and Melbourne Victory makes me all wistful for the amazing talent that is Amy Chapman, I can still picture her wonder-scross that curled in over Melissa Barbieri that ended up being the winner in the 93rd minute. Obviously Chappy is not here this year, she's injured, but can this game provide something special too?
And then there is the match-up everyone wants to see, Brisbane Roar up against Sydney FC. Plus it's all starting to really count, Perth's John Gibson has said it - it's his first 'must win' game of the season. Oh the possibilities, but let's delve into each game with a little more detail.
Saturday, ADELAIDE UNITED v PERTH GLORY at Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide. Local kick-off: 2.30pm (3.00pm AEDT). Referee: Jacqui Melksham
Live and exclusive on ABC1 and ABC HD from 3.00pm AEDT
So Adelaide gain some strike power back from international duty in Ruth Wallace and a couple more back from injury, including their captain Christina Papageorgiou and Karina Roweth. Perth welcome back Sam Kerr, who helped Australia to its thumping win over Thailand in the first ever under-16 girls ASEAN CUP final last Sunday. So the questions are, can Adelaide score its first goal this season and could they possibly hold out Perth's dangerous forward line enough to win? It's a tough ask and one that still seems a little out of reach. Given that Emma Wirkus used to play for Adelaide, I think she'll be keen to keep her old team out too. Perth should win, but I think that United are getting stronger and may score a goal sooner rather than later. Perth coach John Gibson has put the pressure on already. “After this week we are half way through the season. It is a must win game, and going into the next few weeks, the games will get tougher so we need to capitalise this weekend. Most of the Adelaide squad are home grown and very similar to us so it should be a great game” he said.
“It is a must win for us this weekend, we want to continue our recent form, play a solid ninety minutes and it’s a game that we go into really wanting to win. “We were disappointed to drop two points last week (against Canberra), it was one of our best performances for the year, our first half was outstanding. We had a few lapses of concentration in the second half and that cost us.”
Adelaide United squad: 1.Sian McLAREN (gk), 2.Ebony WEIDENBACH, 3.Renee HARRISON, 5.Ashlee FAUL, 6.Thomai KEZIOS, 7.Racheal QUIGLEY, 8.Ruth WALLACE 9.Angela FIMMANO, 10.Marijana RAJCIC, 11.Georgia CHAPMAN, 12.Katerina BEXIS, 13.Lauren CHILVERS, 14.Donna COCKAYNE, 15.Tenneille BOALER, 16.Christina PAPAGEORGIOU (c), 17.Karina ROWETH, 18.Rochelle KUHAR, 19. Nenita BURGESS, 20.Kristi HARVEY (gk) *four to be omitted*
In: Ashlee FAUL (returns from international duty), Ruth WALLACE (returns from international duty), Christina PAPAGEORGIOU (return from injury), Karina ROWETH (return from injury)
Perth Glory squad: 1. Emma WIRKUS (GK), 3. Carys HAWKINS, 4. Sam KERR, 5. Shannon MAY, 6. Ella MASTRANTONIO, 7. Elissia CANHAM, 8. Tanya OXTOBY (C), 9. Dani CALAUTTI, 11. Lisa DE VANNA, 13. Elisa D’OVIDIO, 14. Collette McCALLUM, 15. Alex SINGER, 16. Sadie LAWRENCE, 17. Marianna TABAIN, 18. Ellis GLANFIELD, 20. Zoe PALANDRI
*one to be omitted*
In: Sam KERR (return from national duty)
NEWCASTLE JETS v CENTRAL COAST MARINERS at Wanderers Oval, Newcastle. Local kick-off, 4pm. Referee: Kirralee Gardner.
So the Mariners only just lost to Brisbane, 1-0, and the goal was scored in the last few minutes. Newcastle only lost 1-0 to Sydney FC, but both teams looked fairly ordinary last week in that game and Leena Khamis scored the only goal after four minutes. How will they turn up this week for the F1 derby? I still think the Jets are struggling for striking options without Katie Gill and Emily van Egmond, well clearly they are struggling to score as they haven't yet this season, but I think it's a similar problem to Canberra - they just don't have anyone who possesses that killer blow in front of goal. Perhaps even floating captain Hayley Crawford, who was a Matildas striker who scored at junior FIFA World Cups before her second coming in the midfield last season, could be an answer? The Mariners will see this as a game where they should claim the points and will be eager to and go closer to securing that finals spot that seemed very unlikely at the start of the season. No big ins or outs for either team so I expect the Mariners to win comfortably - unless the Jets can a striker with a clear purpose.
Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Alison LOGUE (gk), 2. Libby SHARPE, 3. Pelay INGLES, 5. Stacey DAY, 6. Amber NEILSON, 7. Gema SIMON, 8. Bronte BATES, 9. Kate HENSMAN, 10. Hayley CRAWFORD (c), 11. Carlie IKONOMOU, 12. Emma STEWART, 13. Caitlyn JARVIE, 16. Kirstyn PEARCE, 17. Maddy SEARL, 18. Leia SMITH, 19. Tara ANDREWS 20. Emma-Kate DEWHURST (gk) *two to be omitted*
In: Libby SHARPE (promoted), Tara ANDREWS (promoted), Maddy SEARL (promoted)
Out: Loren MAHONEY (not selected)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1. Jillian LOYDEN (gk), 2. Caitlin COOPER, 3. Lyndsay GLOHE, 4. Rachael DOYLE, 5. Jessica SEAMAN, 7. Teresa POLIAS, 8. Kelly GOLEBIOWSKI, 9. Renee ROLLASON, 10. Kendall FLETCHER, 11. Michelle HEYMAN, 12. Samantha SPACKMAN, 13. Tudy CAMILLERI, 14. Ashleigh CONNOR, 15. Elizabeth O'REILLY, 16. Jenna KINGSLEY, 17. Britt SIMMONS, 19. Lydia VANDENBERGH, 20. Rachel COOPER (gk).
*three to be omitted*
In: Ashleigh CONNOR (promoted), Elizabeth O'REILLY (promoted), Britt SIMMONS (promoted)
CANBERRA UNITED v MELBOURNE VICTORY at McKellar Park, Canberra. Local kick-off 5pm. Referee: Sara Hodson
So we all know what a classic this was last year. It was round nine and secured Canberra's finals hopes while crushing Melbournes. It's a lot earlier in the season now, but this game could also be crucial. United are sitting seventh on the ladder with only one single point. Melbourne are third on six. With the Mariners also on six and likely to move to nine this week with another win, the Victory and the Mariners could get an eight-point jump on Canberra. And United's finals chances could be slipping away before even their season gets started. It just shows what an awfully short season it is. But, even putting aside by Canberra bias, I feel weirdly positive about the ACT's chances at home. Firstly their strikers finally started scoring goals last weekend and they claimed their first points in emphatic fashion by a comeback against Perth. Strangely it was that exact same occurence last year in Round 5 that really kickstarted Canberra's run into the first grand final. Canberra have the wood over Melbourne, winning 1-0 last year in Melbourne before that 3-2 thriller in round nine. And Canberra have Bec Kiting, who was one of its best defenders in season one but has been injured so far this year, available and Em van Egmond back from international duty. Van Egmond is doubly important - she had United's only decent chances against Brisbane in Round 1. While the Victory have youngster Stephanie Catley back, it's also meant they lose Kara Mowbray who was on injury replacement contract in Victoria. Mowbray played for Canberra last year, scored the second goal in the 3-2 game against Victory and some of the most important ones in United's campaign. I bet she would have been keen to score against Canberra. So will Canberra hit top gear or Melbourne keep cruising at its already high level? I can't wait to watch. Spoke to Melissa Barbieri today and she said that Melbourne just want as many points as they can early this year to avoid the heartache last year. "Last year after that Mariners game [in round 10] that we lost, well that was pretty disappointing," she said. "So we just want to wrap up as many points as we can early on so that doesn't happen again."
Canberra United squad: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS (c), 2. Rebecca KITING, 3. Bronwyn STUDMAN, 4. LIN Chiung Ying, 5. Kahlia HOGG, 6. Ellie RAYMOND, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 8. Emily VAN EGMOND, 9. Grace GILL, 10. TSENG Shu O, 11. Cian MACIEJEWSKI, 12. Snez VELJANOVSKA, 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 15. Nicole SYKES, 16. Ellyse PERRY, 19. Jennifer BISSET, 20. Jocelyn MARA
*one player to be omitted*
In: Rebecca KITING, Emily VAN EGMOND (returns from international duty)
Unavailable: Chistine WALTERS (calf - indefinitely), Sally SHIPARD (awaiting clearance)
Melbourne Victory Women: 1. Melissa BARBIERI (gk), 2. Vedrana POPOVIC, 3. Marlies OOSTDAM, 4. Tal KARP, 5. Laura ALLEWAY, 6. Maika RUYTER-HOOLEY, 8. Katie THORLAKSON, 9. Stephanie CATLEY, 10. Deanna NICESKI, 11. Julianne SITCH, 12. Monnique HANSEN KOFOED, 13. Katrina GORRY, 14. Selin KURALAY, 19. Enza BARILLA, 20. Nicole PAUL (gk)
In: Stephanie CATLEY (promoted)
Out: Sarah GROENEWALD (omitted), Kara MOWBRAY (contract expired)
SUNDAY, SYDNEY FC v BRISBANE ROAR at Sydney Football Stadium, Local kick-off, 2.15pm. Referee: Rebecca Durcau
So a combined total of 22 players that have either played for the Matildas at some level or are currently Matildas will play in this game - plus two Danish internationals who have more than 200 international caps between them - this match has 'class' stamped all over it. If only this was the TV game. Oh well, anyone that is a women's football fan and in Sydney, don't even think twice - just go! As for the result? Well it shall be interesting to see what unfolds. After Brisbane's forwards smashed through Canberra's defence in Round 1 I thought they would be unstoppable, but they haven't managed huge bags of goals since then and Courtney Beutel and Tameka Butt haven't scored at all. Against an excellent Sydney defence, possibly the best in the league outside their own, can Brisbane regain its form or may they be held goal-less for the first time? Brisbane's best chance I think will be to put Butt on Heather Garriock's side and as we have seen so far, with Garriock being the most attacking left back I have ever seen, Butt is quick enough to catch her off-guard and get in down that right side. Now Sydney have goalscorers all across the park, but they certainly won't be allowed as much time and space as they were against Newcastle last weekend this time. Brisbane's defence has a big test on its hand. So what could happen? I think it will either be a very entertaining nil all draw, or it will turn into a shoot-out with snippets of individual brilliance from players like Sarah Walsh, Leena Khamis, Heather Garriock, Courtney Beutel, Jo Burgess or Tameka Butt.
Sydney FC squad: 1. Nikola DEITER (gk), 2. Teigan ALLEN, 3. Danielle BROGAN, 4. Alesha CLIFFORD, 5. Lisa GILBERT, 6. Servet UZUNLAR, 7. Heather GARRIOCK (c), 8. Julie RYDAHL, 9. Sarah WALSH, 10. Kylie LEDBROOK, 11. Cathrin PAASKE, 12. Michelle CARNEY, 13. Catherine CANNULI, 15. Kyah SIMON, 16. Linda O’NEILL, 18. Brittany WHITFIELD, 19. Leena KHAMIS, 20. Carla MONFORTE (gk). *three to be omitted*
In: Teigan ALLEN (return international duty), Lisa GILBERT (promoted), Brittany WHITFIELD (return international duty)
Unavailable: Nicola BOLGER (knee - season), Danielle SMALL (departed club)
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Casey DUMONT (gk) 2. Kate MCSHEA, 3. Karla REUTER 4. Clare POLKINGHORNE (c) 5. Brooke SPENCE, 6. Joanne BURGESS, 7. Pam BIGNOLD, 8. Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 9 Jenna TRISTRAM, 10.Lana HARCH, 11. Aivy LUIK, 12. Steph LATHAM 13. Tameka BUTT, 14.Sasha MCDONNELL 15. Leah Curtis 16. Lauren COLTHORPE 18. Courtney BEUTEL, 19. Ellen BEAUMONT, 20. Kate STEWART (gk)
*four to be omitted*
In: Karla REUTER (promoted), Jenna TRISTRAM (return from injury), Steph LATHAM (promoted), Leah Curtis (promoted)
Unavailable: Emily GIELNIK (Foot)