It's a pivotal round in PlayStation 4 NPL Capital Football, with huge premiership and top four ramifications to come out of a big weekend.
FFA Centre of Excellence v Riverina Rhinos – AIS Grass Fields – 3pm Saturday
The FFA Centre of Excellence’s shot at the Premiership is on the line this weekend as they host the Riverina Rhinos at the AIS. Anything less than a win would spell disaster for the youth side, as they would risk giving up an unassailable lead to Canberra Olympic. The CoE appeared rusty after time off in the 2-0 loss to a smooth Gungahlin outfit last week, and during the goalless draw with Tuggeranong in the middle of the week. They have not had a victory in the league since the 1st July when they ran over the top of the Panthers, but should lift here against the Rhinos to begin finishing the season strongly.
For the Rhinos this match begins a tough run-in to the end of the season, with the final two rounds featuring matches against Gungahlin and Canberra Olympic. The Rhinos fought well last weekend against Tigers and only went down narrowly, but will be without Darren Bailey this weekend after he was dismissed in that loss. Ross Morgan will also need to make sure he has a full squad, having had issues with players travelling for their last Canberra outing against Monaro. These sides have not matched up yet, with the return fixture having gone down as a forfeit on the part of this weekend’s visitors, and both sides will be interested to see how they match up at this point of the season.
Monaro Panthers v Belconnen United – Duncan Fields – 3pm Saturday
The fight for a top two spot continues this weekend as Belconnen United look to take home three points at Googong. United laid bare their intentions for a top two place last weekend with a come from behind win at home to Tuggeranong United, and dependent on other results can all but secure their place in the finals with a win this weekend. The match also presents an opportunity for Jaosn Ugrinic, second place in the Golden Boot, to make inroads into Stephen Domenici’s lead against the worst defense in the league. When United hosted the Panthers in Round seven, it ended as a 7-0 home victory and while Panthers have arguably improved since, Dean Ugrinic should still be confident of nabbing three points here.
Monaro followed up their first point of the season with a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Canberra FC last weekend, and which direction they go this weekend no-one knows. With nothing but pride to play for, Lloyd Hewitt has the chance to begin trying new things as the season winds down and that may take place this weekend. Already a young squad, Hewitt may give some of the U/20’s a chance to prove themselves but it will be a tough ask against one of the best sides in the league. As mentioned the Panthers have improved in the second half of the season but not by seven goals, and with Ed McCarthy possibly out after leaving last weekend’s game early, this match will likely be a strong win for the visitors.
Tuggeranong United v Woden-Weston – Greenway Enclosed – 7:50pm Saturday - Catch it live on BarTV Sports (Youtube or Facebook) from kickoff on Saturday
It’s almost all or nothing for Tuggeranong United this weekend as they look to hang onto their finals chances against Woden-Weston. After their game in hand against the Centre of Excellence during the week ended in a goalless draw, Tuggies sit two points outside the last finals spot and must grab a win here before their rivals for that spot play on Sunday. A win would jump Tigers and Gungahlin and put the pressure on them in tough matches against Canberra FC and Olympic respectively. The key for Tuggies will be Chilean forward Fernando Jorquera, who was a constant threat against Belconnen last week and will look to do the same against the third worst defence in the league.
For the Wanderers, this match represents a chance to avenge their 2-1 loss in the same matchup earlier in the season. The Wanderers were slow out of the blocks in that match but worked their way into the match, but will look for a stronger start this time out. Forward Daniel Crkovski has been quiet in recent weeks and having scored in that loss will be keen to use this match as a return to form. Now eliminated from finals contention Woden-Weston have pride to play for, but with a tight-knit group under Tony Olivera the side will come out fighting for all three points on Saturday night.
Gungahlin United v Canberra Olympic – Gungahlin Enclosed – 3pm Sunday
Canberra Olympic can take one big step closer to the PS4NPL Capital Football Premiership on Sunday afternoon when they face Gungahlin United at GEO. Frank Cachia’s side are eight points clear of their nearest challengers, who they are yet to face in a rescheduled match. They showed no signs of a cup hangover as they returned from their loss to Sorrento in Perth to brush aside Woden-Weston 3-0 last weekend at O’Connor, and will look to continue an undefeated league streak stretching back to Round three. With no major injury worries it is clear sailing for Olympic into the finals, but wrapping up the premiership as early as possible will likely be high on Cachia’s list. The last outing of this match saw Olympic score four goals in the final half hour to come from behind and win but would probably like to avoid going behind at all against a Gungahlin side looking dangerous heading into the run-in.
For United, a 2-0 win over the CoE on Sunday in a crunch clash could be a pivotal result, keeping them in the fourth finals spot with three games remaining. Next week they will make the long journey to Griffith to take on the Rhinos before a massive tie with Canberra FC on the final weekend that could prove crucial to the makeup of the final four. Replicating last weekend’s disciplined performance could go a long way to picking up a result here, and any result for United would also be doing the Centre of Excellence a big favour if they win on Saturday. Marcial Munoz’s men have their eyes on the finals despite some ups and downs, and this weekend presents a great chance to show that they belong there.
Tigers FC v Canberra FC – Nijong Oval – 3pm Sunday
Tigers FC can jump level in the top four with this weekend’s opponents as they host Canberra FC in Cooma. The hosts are three points behind their visitors but with significantly worse goal difference, and this meeting will be the first between Thomas James and his old club as well as the return of Julian Borgna to Cooma. James did not score last week but was a constant threat, and will look to terrorise a defence he formerly played alongside. A win here for Tigers would put them level on points with Canberra FC, albeit behind on goal difference, with tough clashes against Belconnen United and Woden-Weston to round out the season. Depending on other results this weekend anything other than a win could prove to be damaging, so the hosts need to come out with a point to prove here.
The visitors bounced back to form last weekend with a thrashing of Monaro at home, but will need to prove themselves away from home against a top four rival this weekend. Their last win against said opposition came against Tigers the last time they met, way back in Round 7. Since then draws with the CoE and Olympic and losses to Belconnen United and Tuggeranong United have set them back and with a closing schedule against the CoE and Gungahlin this outing could be pivotal. The visitors must regain the early season form that saw them touted as premiership contenders, because a loss here could spell disaster heading into the final two rounds of the regular season.