Round 11 sees another set of absorbing games as teams jockey for position on the ladder as the season moves inexorably towards finals time.
First-up at 2pm, the FFA COE welcomes Woden-Weston FC to the AIS with the home team possibly still wondering how they let slip their 3-1 lead to lose 4-3 to Woden-Weston back in Round 2 at Woden Park.
On that occasion John Roberts netted a hat-trick for the FFA youngsters who were cruising, only for a dogged and determined Wanderers to force themselves back on level terms before winning it late on. Their draw at McKellar Park a fortnight ago snapped a five-game losing streak ahead of their midweek match with the CU Academy.
The two local Academies meet at the Australian Institute of Sport on Wednesday afternoon at 4.30pm in a match brought forward from the scheduled date in Round 15. Whether this ninety minutes will have an impact on FFA COE’s performance against Woden-Weston FC remains to be seen.
Attention will then switch to McKellar Park as Belconnen United, off the back of a 6-4 win over the CU Academy and a gruelling midweek Westfield FFA Cup Semi-Final match with Canberra Olympic, plays Monaro Panthers.
The Panthers match with FC was postponed due to the inclement weather last Sunday, perhaps slowing the moment they were building after their incredible win away to Olympic the week before. No doubt the Panthers will be well organised again and tough to break down, meaning the Blue Devils will be made to sweat for the points that will keep their title hopes in the balance.
One of only two teams to deny Tigers FC maximum points this season, the other being Belconnen United, Gungahlin United will no doubt be presenting a game-plan that will be aimed at nullifying the ball-threat of their talented opposition who are deadly in the final third and have proven to be an attacking delight in the 2016 campaign when the pair meet at Nijong Oval on Sunday. But it’s not just defensively that Gungahlin could cause problems for the leaders.
In their 2-2 draw at Gungahlin Enclosed, the Gunners wide players enjoyed plenty of success on the flanks, stretching the Tigers midfield and denying them the opportunity to get their short-passing midfield game flowing. However, the Tigers have lots of options and are not adverse to an early ball on the counter-attack where they can utilise the trickery of Stephen Domenici and the raw physical presence of Daniel Barac. It all adds up to what should be an intriguing afternoon.
There is a potential blockbuster encounter at O’Connor Enclosed as two teams with realistic aspirations of the title, and a shot at NPL Finals Serries glory, meet as Canberra Olympic welcome Canberra FC to their home ground. Olympic played during the Canberra deluge last weekend and back up in midweek with a Westfield FFA Cup Semi-Final at McKellar Park. FC meanwhile had their match with the Monaro Panthers postponed and will be grateful for the extra rest time.
FC has a horrendous injury list with Robbie Deeley, Nathan Evans and James Field long-term absentees and doubts surrounding the availability of Aidan Brunskill, Josip Jadric, Ryan Keir and Jordan Lamb, leaving Head Coach Zoran Glavinic with a huge headache and calling upon the services of a number of the clubs’ young talent to plug the gaps.
Olympic too has injury problems which will disrupt their preparations and could make for a lively encounter. Goals from Jordan Tsekenis and Robbie Cattanach gave Olympic the points in the return fixture at Deakin Stadium earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, at Hawker Football Centre, CU Academy will welcome Tuggeranong United. It was against the Academy that United finally halted their 18-match losing streak at this level with a 5-2 success at Kambah in Round 2. Even then United was forced to come from 0-2 down and only a brace of goals in quick succession from Marco Gayer gave Tuggeranong the platform for their win.
Since then each team has suffered a number of setbacks and will view this match as a chance to reignite their season. Tuggeranong will be favourites but will need to work hard for the points.
Round 11 Fixtures
Wednesday 8th June
CU Academy v FFA COE (AIS, 16:30)
Saturday 11th June
FFA COE v Woden-Weston FC (AIS, 14:00)
Belconnen United v Monaro Panthers (McKellar Park, 17:30)
Sunday 12th June
CU Academy v Tuggeranong United (Hawker Football Centre, 15:00)
Canberra Olympic v Canberra FC (O’Connor Enclosed, 15:00)
Tigers FC v Gungahlin United (Nijong Oval, 15:00)