A thrilling NPLWA – Women’s campaign reaches its climax on Friday night when Murdoch University Melville and Northern Redbacks meet to decide the champions.
It is fitting that the destiny of the title should come down to a match between the competition’s two best sides.
Redbacks lead the table by a point and know a draw away at Wormall Civil Stadium will be enough for them to win the league and thwart their rivals as they bid to defend their crown.
The visitors will be encouraged by their 3-1 league win on MUM FC’s synthetic surface earlier this season. But Redbacks were well beaten 5-2 after extra time when the pair met there in the State Cup semi-final. The sides’ other meeting, in the league at Celebration Park, ended 2-2.
Redbacks coach Carlos Vega Mena said: “It’s been a good challenge coming up against MUM FC, who are a great team with a great coach.
“It’s been a good pressure because the girls have been motivated every week to get the three points and perform.
“We will keep doing the same things we’ve been doing all season. It’s been working and at this stage when you’re so close and you’re facing what’s pretty much a final, if you change too much it could end in a bad way. It will be the same work, the same commitment, the same professionalism, approach and intensity.
“I’m really happy with the girls. Murdoch have their strengths, but we have our strengths too, so we’re even in that respect. They’re obviously really dangerous so we have to keep working and keep being humble, because it’s going to be a hard game against one of the best teams in the competition, and I think it’s going to be a really tight one.”
Redbacks squeezed into the Top Four Cup in the final league game of 2020 and went on to win it. This season the club has stepped it up and lost just once in the league. They are on a six-game winning streak since that draw with MUM FC in Round 14.
“To be honest, I told the girls before the season it would be a transition after Conrad (McKelvie) was such a successful coach here who won everything and that was always going to be tough to follow,” Mena said.
“To change the system, put in my philosophy, we just wanted to take it game by game and planned to challenge for the top four. If you had asked me at the start of the season whether we would be challenging for the title, I’d have been lying to you if I said yes.
“But game by game, the girls have worked and trained really hard and deserve so much credit. It’s maybe come quicker than I thought, but I’m so proud of them and to be a part of this group.
“The team work has stood out. I’ve told the girls the way you train is the way you play, but importantly it’s about being a good team-mate and playing with courage and that’s been one of the keys.
“It’s really exciting and I think we will go out there (on Friday) and give absolutely everything. To play good football, put in a good performance, if there’s a good crowd there it’ll be even more exciting and I know it’s going to be a good game.”
The remaining three games of Round 21 will take place on Sunday as the regular season reaches its completion with all fixtures kicking off at 3pm.
Perth SC will host Subiaco at Dorrien Gardens with their place in the Top Four Cup virtually guaranteed following Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Balcatta. Jaime Duncanson and Abbey Meakins got the goals in a result which ended the latter’s post-season hopes.
Perth’s goal difference of +19 over Hyundai NTC means Danielle Brogan’s side are all but locked away for finals, but they could still finish as high as third and host a week one elimination final.
Subiaco, meanwhile, can avoid finishing bottom for a second straight season Curtin University drop points against NTC. Two goals for Monique Prinsloo, including an outstanding chip, helped NTC side defeat Subiaco 3-1 in Wednesday’s catch-up game at Percy Doyle Reserve. Ella Lincoln got the third, while Jen Walsh struck for Subi.
Fremantle City confirmed their Top Four Cup place last week despite a defeat to Redbacks and can secure a home final next week with a win over Balcatta.
MUM FC v Northern Redbacks
Hyundai NTC v Curtin University (Ashfield Arena)
Perth SC v Subiaco (Dorrien Gardens)
Fremantle City v Balcatta (Wauhop Park)