WPL Preview: Round 4

by Zee Ko 0

By Zee Ko – 26/04/2013

Round 4 of the Women’s Premier League throws up a couple of interesting match ups, none more so than the Anzac Remembrance Day clash between last year’s Grand Finalists Box Hill and Bundoora. The Corner Flag reviews every single fixture ahead of this exciting weekend’s action.

Bundoora (2) vs Box Hill (5)

3:00pm, Saturday 27th April 2013
Hillsview Recreation Reserve, South Morang

Bundoora – WWW
Box Hill – DDW

Head to Head:
28 Apr 2012 – Bundoora 2 Box Hill 2 (Epping Stadium)
13 Jul 2012 – Box Hill 2 Bundoora 1 (Wembley Park)

All eyes will be on Hillsview Reserve as Bundoora United look to finally get one defending champions Box Hill. The corresponding fixture last year looked all but won before Box Hill staged a last gasp comeback to tie the game. Box Hill have looked uncharacteristically shaky in these early rounds, only managing their first win against Casey last week. Bundoora on the other hand have been eviscerating all before them, though the come-from-behind win over Bulleen did give a hint of some defensive frailty that future opponents might decide to exploit. Diarna Cartwright returns for Bundoora so Matildas goalkeeper Brianna Davey will most likely sit out this encounter, while Box Hill’s controversial rotation policy will keep us guessing as to their starting lineup.

Key Players:
Seyma Erenli (Box Hill) – Box Hill’s 2013 recruit will most likely be tasked with leading the line once again, hoping to add to her two goal tally this season. Erenli is not afraid to come deep to help out her midfielders, but woe betide any defenders who get sucked in with her for Box Hill’s wingers will be waiting to pounce.
Rachel Alonso (Bundoora) – Bundoora’s strength lies in their strength going forward, no doubt adhering to the maxim that attack is the best form of defence. While Alonso has proven she can be handy chipping in with goals, it is in the assist column that she has impressed so far this year. Six assists in three games puts her far ahead of her nearest competitors. Box Hill will have to be wary.

South Melbourne (1) vs Preston (12)

3:00pm, Saturday 27th April 2013
Lakeside Stadium, Albert Park

South Melbourne – WWW
Preston – LLL

Head to Head:
15 Apr 2012 – Preston 0 South Melbourne 0 (B.T. Connor Reserve)
23 Jun 2012 – South Melbourne 3 Preston 0 (Lakeside Stadium)

As you would expect in a top versus bottom of the table clash, this looks an awful mismatch on paper as well as on the pitch. South Melbourne have blown away every opponent over three rounds, with goalkeeper Cassandra Dimovski having had little to do at all. On the other hand, Preston have struggled to even find the net, let alone win a game, with Paula Massouh finally scoring a consolation against Ashburton last week. The Lions will be hoping for a miracle in order to get anything out of this game, but sadly it looks like it will be more of a damage limitation exercise rather than a real test for the current league leaders. South Melbourne welcome back central defender Sarah Sumner after a bout of illness, while Preston don’t look to have any injuries to report since last week.

Key Players:
Morany Chek (South Melbourne) – The former French U20 midfielder has a growing reputation after only three league games this season, with some stellar performances for South Melbourne not going unnoticed. Her blossoming partnership with Natalie Martineau has given the team a very creative core for striker Laura Spiranovic to feed off , as the two central midfielders have combined for a goal and six assists so far.
Alexandra Bogdanovski (Preston) – The former Bundoora goalkeeper seems to have found a new lease of life at Preston, playing with confidence and displaying no small amount of ability in the three games so far. While a porous defence might not give her much protection, Bogdanovski’s performances have already drawn praise with a superhuman effort against Sandringham particularly noteworthy.

Ashburton (8) vs Cairnlea (9)

3:00pm, Sunday 28th April 2013
Ashburton Park, Ashburton

Ashburton – LLW
Cairnlea – WLL

Head to Head:
25 Mar 2012 – Ashburton 2 Cairnlea 1 (DISC)
03 Jun 2012 – Cairnlea 2 Ashburton 0 (Cairnlea Park)

Two teams with similar records so far meet at Ashburton Park, with both Ashburton and Cairnlea having won only one out of their three opening games. It doesn’t make for pretty reading, but while Ashburton sport the better goal difference (-4 to Cairnlea’s -13), Cairnlea will be hoping to draw on their magnificent opening win over Casey rather than the two capitulations to free-scoring Bundoora and Sandringham. Ashburton will be buoyed by the return of vital defender Kristin Stensholt from suspension, while Cairnlea will have a new coach installed on the touchline following Nick Koutroumanis’ departure from the club.

Key Players:
Kristin Stensholt (Ashburton) – The centre back’s presence has been missed in defence since her sending off against South Melbourne for a dangerous tackle, and her teammates will no doubt be cheered by her reappearance this week. Stensholt will most probably be tasked with keeping Cairnlea’s Tijen Hussein quiet, not an easy task on the best of days but if anyone can do it, it’s the Ashburton defensive rock.
Candice Sallama (Cairnlea) – 19 goals conceded in three games does not make for pretty reading, but don’t for an instant be fooled into thinking that Cairnlea’s goalkeeper is not up to scratch. Many of Cairnlea’s youngsters will be looking up to their experienced custodian for guidance, and Sallama on her day can be pretty much unpassable. Ashburton captain Christine Pfeiffer and the rest of her attacking unit will have their work cut out for them.

Casey (7) vs Altona (11)

3:00pm, Sunday 28th April 2013
Comets Stadium, Cranbourne

Casey – LWL
Altona – LLL

Head to Head:
None (Altona were in State League 1 last season)

At topsy turvy start to the season promises to continue for the Comets as they face winless Altona at home in Cranbourne. An demoralising 5-4 loss to Cairnlea was followed by a 3-1 win over Bulleen, before Box Hill brought them back down to earth with a thump in a 3-1 defeat at Wembley Park. Coach Ian Williamson had some stern words for his charges behind locked doors after the game, and will be expecting them to bounce back up with a win this weekend. City are still without a win after three games, but might just get their season up and running if they do get a result here. It’s a big ‘but’ though as Nathan Rogers has limited resources to draw upon from his playing squad.

Key Players:
Brittany Dudley-Smith (Casey) – The burly winger is one of Casey’s most potent attacking weapons, possessing good vision and a willingness to take opponents on. Woe betide any defender who gets in her way, for the Comets player has struck three goals in three games, including a double against Cairnlea.
Aliesha Newman (Altona) – Altona too have an attacking threat on the wing, in the form of Newman. The Altona winger will be tasked with making plenty of darting runs down the flank, looking to create as well as put away chances. If Altona are to win this contest, Newman will have to be her usual consistent self.

EAP (4) vs Heidelberg (6)

3:00pm, Sunday 28th April 2013
DISC, Darebin

Heidelberg – DWL

Head to Head:
26 May 2012 – Heidelberg 5 EAP 0 (Olympic Village)
26 Aug 2012 – EAP 0 Heidelberg 9 (DISC)

EAP have been impressive this season, looking nothing like last year’s incarnation after a failed Country experiment. It’s no surprise that the team is so strong given they are drawing from the NTC squad this time round, but the start of the Boys U15 leagues mean that several girls will be effectively playing two games per season while key players might be rested for the Tuesday night games. Heidelberg have a complete set after three games with a draw, a win and a loss but will need to regroup after a 5-0 humbling at home to South Melbourne. While EAP’s lineup is uncertain after Tuesday’s exertions, Heidelberg will welcome back Penny Bakopoulos after a one game suspension. Midfielder Tammy Hendriks will have to continue sitting this one out on the sidelines though, after serving only one week of her four game suspension.

Key Players:
Kat Smith (EAP) – The only player-coach in the league leads by example in the heart of her team’s defence, cajoling this EAP side to greater heights during games. Her height and build make her stand out among a team of young girls, but Smith seems to have already had an impact on the way her team plays. EAP have been unafraid to take shots from distance to complement a pretty passing game, and it has been very effective to date.
Belinda Pannella (Heidelberg) – Heidelberg’s captain demands a lot from her team, but to be fair Pannella sets a pretty high standard in central midfield. Her high octane playing style and superior technical ability means she sees plenty of the ball during the game, while her midfield partnership with Julia Nicolaci is bound to reap plenty of rewards once they start dovetailing to perfection.

Sandringham (3) vs Bulleen (10)

8:30pm, Monday 29th April 2013
Kingston Heath Reserve, Cheltenham

Sandringham – WWW
Bulleen – LLL

Head to Head:
None (Bulleen were in State League 1 last season)

Based on form alone, this result looks to be a no-brainer but there might be more than meets the eye. Sandringham are the third of the three teams with perfect records so far while Bulleen have failed to win in all three games they have played. But it is not unfair to say that Sandy have yet to be really tested, with makeshift goalkeepers Lucy Parton and Sian Rogers letting in just one goal between them. On the other hand, Bulleen have shown plenty of pluck, even giving high-flying Bundoora a scare by opening the scoring on Monday evening before crumbling in the second half. And that in itself is significant, for Bulleen seem to be a 45 minute team at the moment. Adrian Drury has to figure out how to keep his team going in the second half after playing their hearts out in the first.

Key Players:
Stephanie Tanti (Sandringham) – Tanti is the creative fulcrum, if not the heart and soul of this team. Almost everything in the attacking third seems to go through her, as her advanced position just behind the strikers allow her a chance to both create and score goals. Her hattrick last week indicate a player who is bang on form, and Bulleen will do well to keep her quiet.
Emily Dolzan (Bulleen) – Dolzan’s experience and leadership qualities will be called upon as she leads her team out for the second time this season following her rise to the captaincy. It might be awhile before Ashleigh Beagley does return, but in the meantime Dolzan has to work hard on the right flank and outsmart the Sandringham left back whenever possible.

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