So firstly, a few interesting happenings this week. Number one is that Matildas star Lisa de Vanna has been suspended for her little outburst last weekend. From the AAP report, De Vanna was angry at being substituted in the 31st minute of the Glory's 1-0 win over Adelaide on Saturday. She swore at coaching staff and a fourth official and also raised her middle finger towards members of the crowd as she went down the tunnel. Football Federation Australia has found her guilty of bringing the game into disrepute and issued a two-match ban. One match is suspended, to be put into action if de Vanna re-offends in the next six months. Glory coach John Gibson was not a happy man either. “We accept the penalty handed to Lisa by the governing body, the incident was unacceptable on many levels in terms of respect for the game and the fans” said Glory coach John Gibson.
“As a group this goes away from our one of our goals for the season, which is about respect, and from the culture we are trying to establish this season. From the team's point of view the issue is over, we react positively, move forward, stay together and look forward to this weekend’s game."
It's certainly not a good example and de Vanna has been known in the past to have a very short-temper, I remember reading stories about how she had walked out on numerous clubs around the time she was starring for the Matildas at the 2007 World Cup in China. But I can't help but wonder, would she have been suspended if it wasn't the TV match?
Anyway, onto some more positive news and Melbourne and Newcastle play the first ever W-League game on a synthetic pitch. Moved from Bob Jane Stadium due to the poor pitch there, it will be interesting to see what happens.
They opened one of these new generation surfaces in Canberra recently at Hawker and I have walked on it, kicked a ball on it and watched a few games there. The first thing about one here is that you have to get very very close to realise it's not actually grass. Then once you are on it, it basically plays like a pitch should except unlike the drought-affected pitches we have these days, it's an even surface so you can actually read the bounce. In that sense, the one in Canberra is amazing. But in the first few months players did complain of more grazes and sore muscles, but it seemed to clear up as time went on and the pitch settled. I'm not sure how old the pitch at the Veneto Club is, but they played an NYL game on it last week so it must be ok. Will be interesting to hear the feedback from it, as really, these pitches are the way of the future. Because the drought doesn't look like breaking, pitches that don't need watering are a good idea plus the idea that these can be used 24/7 and 365 days of the year. Let me know what you think Melbourne readers :)
And so now to the actual game previews. How much will the absence of de Vanna and Sam Kerr hurt Perth against Brisbane? And can Canberra United continue its stellar form and knock off the impressive Mariners. It's all ahead in Round 5. I'll keep it as a shorter post this week, if you want the full teams please click through to Ann Odong's fantastic website, http://www.thewomensgame.com/.
SATURDAY, MELBOURNE VICTORY v NEWCASTLE JETS at the Veneto Club, 2pm. Referee: Rebecca Durcau. So the Victory were not happy at all with their performance against Canberra last week and I assume they would have had the chance to train at the synthetic pitch this week so hopefully they know the ground. They lose Selin Kuralay (unavailble), Steph Catley (international duty) and Marlies Oostdam (injury), but regain Kara Mowbray, who has obviously signed another injury-replacement contract, Jess Humble, Sarah Groenewald, Gulcan Koca and Ursula Hughson. Lose a lot of experience with Kuralay and Oostdam out, so could be another danger game for Melbourne. Except that Newcastle are losing even more players this week and showing their young age, it's all either so they can sit their HSC exams or play for the under-16 Australian team. Elizabeth Sharpe, Kristyn Pearce and Emma Stewart are out with HSC, Tara Andrews (the Jets only goalscorer so far this year), Maddy Searl and Hannah Brewer are all with Robbie Hooker's Australian squad. But the ins are promising, Stacey Day is back as is Loren Mahoney and Harmonie Atwill. They have also signed a new player, Renee Cartwright, who scored a few goals in the NSW premier league last season and is a former Young Matilda, originally from Crookwell. Find out all about her in this great story from the Newcastle Herald.
BRISBANE ROAR v PERTH GLORY at Ballymore Stadium, Local kick-off 2.30pm. Referee: Casey Reibelt. Don't forget, this is now the Westfield W-League Match of the Round live and exclusive to ABC1 and ABC HD, after they switched from the Melbourne game late last week. So Perth look to be a much lesser force without the two players that have created so many chances for the Glory this year, Lisa de Vanna and Sam Kerr, but that's exactly when teams can come up and surprise you. They still have Collette McCallum, who is one of the best set piece takers in the Matildas. De Vanna and Kerr the only outs, with three youngers in the extended squad, Katarina Jukic, Ciara Conway and Ellis Glanfield. Brisbane haven't made any outs yet, but added Pam Bignold, Tameka Butt, Leah Curtis and Steph Latham to an extended squad. Butt will definitely be back in. After smashing Canberra 3-0 in Round 1 though, Brisbane have scored just two goals in the other three games. Their draw last week came courtesy of a Sydney FC own goal. So are they ready for a huge win? Or is their dominance slipping slightly? I shall tune into ABC TV to find out.
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS v CANBERRA UNITED at Canberra Stadium, 4.15pm. So yes, I have listed the Mariners first for a reason. It may be in Canberra, but it's still a Mariners home game as it's a curtain raiser to the boys clash against Adelaide United. But Canberra will be hoping the home crowd is an advantage in its race to keep its finals hopes alive. Tseng Shu O, with her pretty purple bob, scored two excellent goals last weekend. The first one worthy of any highlights reel as she completely outstepped the senior Matildas goalkeeper in Melissa Barbieri. I spoke to her this week (through a translator) and she said one of the things that has been so amazing is the crowd support, she said that in Taiwan no-one would ever bother to watch her play. So she is loving the United fans on the McKellar hill. Still Canberra will need a super effort to beat the inform Mariners and the leagues leading goalscorer in Michelle Heyman. Particulary as the Mariners have been playing three up front. United's defence worked super well last week, but that was when they just had one striker to deal with, Katie Thorlakson, who wasn't that quick. This week I expect the Mariners to keep the back-four extra busy, which means that Nicole Sykes and Ellyse Perry probably won't be able to run it up the line as much as they did last week. Em van Egmond is a big loss too, she was outstanding against Melbourne. But as attested to last year in its run to the grand final, once Canberra have its confidence up, the girls are hard to stop. Hopefully a huge crowd turns out for the first ever women's national league game at Canberra Stadium.
SUNDAY, SYDNEY FC v ADELAIDE UNITED at the Sydney Football Stadium, 2.15pm. Referee, Kiralee Gardener. So another Sunday fixture for the Sydney FC girls. Unlucky not to get a win against Brisbane last week, and only having beaten the Newcastle Jets 1-0, I have the feeling it could be Adelaide's turn to get punished this week. Sydney have SUCH a good team on paper, they should really be putting away teams like this. Defender Danielle Brogan is out with a knee injury, scarily it says unknown next to her name, which will be a big blow for the Sky Blues and two more girls are out with Hooker's team, Brittany Whitfield and Teigan Allen. No players in. It's a similar story for Adelaide, with Ashlee Faul and Ruth Wallace out and no players added. Can Sydney get it together, or will Adelaide battle away for another respectable loss? As the only team yet to score a goal this W-League, I think the Reds will be pretty happy if they can just focus on that first, like their captain said last week.
So enjoy the halfway round of the season this weekend, see you on the other side :)