So sorry everyone on the latest of the preview this week. Have just been a little busy, but here it is anyway. A shortened version this week so we can just get right to the juicy stuff. All games are today, so a very short-sharp round with (hopefully) lots of action.
CANBERRA UNITED v BRISBANE ROAR at McKellar Park, 3pm. Live on ABC TV.
Refereee: Prue Donohue. So the W-League may have only been going for a total of 18 rounds - but this rivalry is already a great one. Canberra and Brisbane have played each other four times, including in the first ever Westfield W-League grand final earlier this year. Brisbane have the better record, with two wins out of those four games. But Canberra are also the only team to have ever taken three points from the Roar. That was back in Round 2, 2008 when Lara Boon was the goalkeeper instead of Casey Dumont (who was away on international duty), and a mistake allowed Kara Mowbray to shoot into an open goal. They won 1-0. But it wasn't just a fluke, in the round nine game, only an 89th minute goal from Vedrana Popovic helped Brisbane to come away with a point. Brisbane have comprehensively won the past two games, the grand final 2-0 and the Round 1 2009 rematch 3-0, but can Canberra put the spark back into the rivalry today? It does seem hard. From my preview, that was kind of cut in today's paper but here it is in the full version, they are certainly down on numbers. But in saying that, Jeff Hopkins also said this week he would never underestimate Canberra and expects today's game to be a cracker. If Tameka Butt does play her first game in three weeks in a return from injury, she could be the difference. But the message is, if you are in Canberra, come along to McKellar Park, wear green and support United. It is the TV game after all - make sure everyone knows United have plenty of support!
Canberra United co-captain Ellie Brush will be given until the last minute to prove her fitness for today's crucial clash against Brisbane Roar at McKellar. Brush tore ligaments in her right ankle in last weekend's draw with the Central Coast Mariners and has not trained this week, but yesterday she was confident she would be able to take her place at the centre of defence against Brisbane.
``I think I will be able to play,'' Brush said. ``I still need to have a fitness test, but it's just kept improving and I've done everything I can to make sure I can play.''
It would be a huge boost to the team if Brush could line-up, given defender Lin Chiung-Ying is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury and Ellyse Perry is out on cricket commitments.
If Brush could play, Ray Junna would need to make just one change to his starting back-four and is likely to give Bronwyn Studman her first start this season. Studman impressed after she was subbed on for Brush last weekend.
In Perry's spot in midfield, Junna is likely likely to hand 15-year-old Kahlia Hogg her first W-League start.
Injury replacement-player Lucy Allan, who was a senior member of the team last year but wasn't given a senior contract at the start of this year, is will be considered for a midfield or defence role. Whatever does happen with his line-up today, Junna said he certainly wouldn't ask his team to play defensive despite the fact that United need a result in the round six game to keep its season alive.
``There is no use going out there and building a wall and trying to defend, I think the second we do that everything we have been working towards goes to waste,'' Junna said.
`We've been playing attacking football and we'll go out there and give it a go.
``If it doesn't work well then that's ok and we'll learn a lesson, but there is no reason to stop playing the way we have been.''
Also if anyone can't make the game and would like to listen to it, you can hear myself on air with the excellent Russ Gibbs and lovely Luzy Zelic on the livestream of 2XX 98.3fm radio, http://www.2xxfm.org.au/08/. We live call every Canberra home game on the Canberra community station.
NEWCASTLE JETS v ADELAIDE UNITED at Wanderers Oval, Newcastle. 4pm. Referee, Kate Jacewicz. So the replay of the Round 1 game that saw a 0-0 draw and the only points that each team has claimed this season. But in recent weeks Newcastle have been steadily improving, they have scored some goals and apart from the blip against the Mariners, have generally kept a fairly tidy defence. But Adelaide United will be very keen I think to firstly, score its first goal this season, and secondly perhaps claim the three points in the second real chance they have had to do so this year. This game could decide the wooden spoon, so the chance to avoid it will be plenty of motivation. I think the Jets may just have Adelaide at home though, particulary with the strong crowds they have been getting at Wanderers Oval. Adelaide have a few new players this week, including Thomai Kezios and Greta French-Kennedy.
PERTH GLORY v CENTRAL COAST MARINERS at Clipsal Stadium, Inglewood. 3pm Perth time, 6pm AEDT time. Referee. Lee Corey. So Perth are very keen to make up for last week's 6-0 thumping at the hands of Brisbane. “It’s about getting back on track, it was obviously a very disappointing result last weekend and we are looking for a positive reaction from the team against the Mariners on Saturday” said Glory coach John Gibson. “We need to get back to basics, do the things that have worked well for us in the past. If we do the one percenters, we can compete and have a chance at success.”
“The players have been switched on at training, we have worked on a few things for the weekend and have looked fairly sharp, so we are hopeful of a much improved showing.”
They have Lisa de Vanna back from suspension, but they could lose another Matilda Collette McCallum for the rest of the season. She has an ankle injury that could put her out for six weeks. Mariners have included a few players like they did for last weekend's Canberra game, but ended up going in with an unchanged line-up. A very interesting game in terms of the top-four.
MELBOURNE VICTORY v SYDNEY FC at Deakin Reserve, Shepparton, Victoria. 7pm. Referee, Catherine Hofmann. So this is another game moved from Bob Jane Stadium as the ground has been judged unfit for use, but I think it's actually kind of fantastic. Shepparton, and the rest of country Victoria for that sake, doesn't get to see much elite level football (apart from the odd men's VPL game), so taking the game to areas like this is a fantastic idea. It's also a fantastic idea just for the 'Canberra factor' as I think I will call it. In Canberra at around this time, there isn't much else on in terms of outdoor sport. Pretty much just local cricket, so for a great afternoon's entertainment on a lovely day - you can't beat an afternoon at McKellar Park for some top-quality football. If other games were taken to rural areas where they aren't competing with cricket or other major events in capital cities, I think it would boost crowd numbers. But back to the game. Another very interesting one when it comes to shaping the top-four. Sydney FC finally hit top form last week, can they carry it on? They have an unchanged line-up. The Victory have included three of their most experienced players. All have international experience, Marlies Oostdam, Julianne Sitch and Selin Kuralay. For more from Victory's camp, check out this podcast from Victorian radio host Teo here.
And also remember to check out http://www.thewomensgame.com/. this week for Ann Odong's stories, including speaking to Leeanne Grantham and Julie Rydahl.