Tuggeranong United and Belconnen United clash in this weekend's match of the round as they both come off important league wins.
FFA Centre of Excellence v Gungahlin United – AIS Grass Fields – 3pm
Gungahlin United will gun for a fifth straight win in the league this weekend when they face the FFA Centre of Excellence at the AIS. A 3-1 win over Tigers FC last weekend catapulted Gunners into third spot but the Centre of Excellence will prove a different test this time. A complete performance last week holds them in good stead, but outside that match the visitors are yet to face any of the Top sides from last season. With no major injuries or suspensions hanging over the team, Gungahlin will come into this at full strength and ready to go.
The COE played very well for large parts of last weekend’s loss to Canberra Olympic, but lapses of concentration led to conceding two penalties and eventually proved to be their undoing. Much like last week, the young side will likely come out fast and hard in a bid to unsettle the visiting defence.
A number of threats up front will keep the stingy Gungahlin defence on their toes, in particular Mirza Muratovic whose five goals this season has him fourth on the Golden Boot leaderboard. With both teams pushing for moves up the ladder, this has the potential to be a very open matchup.
Tigers FC v Riverina Rhinos – Calwell 203 – 3pm
The Riverina Rhinos picked up their first win of the season against Monaro last Saturday and will look to grab more momentum when they clash with Tigers FC at Calwell this round.
That first-up win sees them now only one point behind this weekend’s opponents, and the Rhinos can take advantage of a struggling Tigers side who have lost three matches straight including a tense encounter at Gungahlin last weekend. But with the equal worst defence in the league, the Rhinos will need to contain Tigers' forward line and not get too eager to push out on the break.
Tigers had two men sent from the field in last weekend’s matchup, going down 3-1 eventually, but rebounded during the week as they defeated ANU 3-1 in the FFA Cup. Nikolas Abot was everywhere in that match, scoring and setting up goals, and he will be a thorn in the side of the visiting defence on Saturday.
A strong result here for Tigers could be crucial as they head into a tough fortnight containing clashes with Canberra FC and Belconnen United after this weekend.
Monaro Panthers v Canberra FC – Duncan Fields – 3pm
A winless Monaro Panthers side will welcome Canberra FC to Duncan Fields on Saturday as the visitors aim to bounce back from their first loss of the season. The shock loss to Tuggeranong last weekend ended their perfect start to the campaign, and came at a cost as Michael Mensah was sent from the field with a straight red card in the first half.
A more disciplined display will be needed this weekend but the ladder leaders should back themselves against a side with the league’s equal-worst defence and league-worst attack.
Panthers struggled away in Griffith last weekend as they fell once more, and are yet to pick up a point this season. However, the side will take confidence from their dramatic mid-week FFA Cup penalty shootout win over Belconnen United which saw them through to the fifth round.
Ryan Moxom made his first-grade debut in that match in goals and pushed for an NPL start with a fantastic performance, including a number of saves in the shootout. If he does he will have his fair share of work cut out as the league’s second-best attack comes at him.
Woden-Weston FC v Canberra Olympic – Woden Park Enclosed 3pm
Canberra Olympic will look for a fourth straight win against a Woden-Weston side still searching for their first on Sunday. The reigning Champions picked up a late win over the Centre of Excellence on Saturday but will need to be better than they started in that match.
Olympic will be without the services of defender Nathan Megic following his dismissal in that outing for two yellow card offences, but have the depth to cover. Stephen Domenici continued his imperious form up front and will be a good chance to increase his leage-leading goal tally against a struggling home defence.
Woden-Weston will come into this having been belted 6-1 in the league last weekend, but having also overcome Queanbeyan City 4-1 in the FFA Cup during extra-time on Tuesday. Those extra miles on the legs may show up in a fast paced-game so Tony Olivera might look to slow the game down if he can.
Yinka Olaide-Kehinde was on fire in the extra period during the week as he scored two goals in as many minutes, and will be one of the primary threats on this occasion. While a tough task for the hosts here, a disciplined, controlled performance will go a long way to helping find a result against a resurgent Olympic.
Tuggeranong United v Belconnen United - AIS Grass Fields - 3pm
This weekend’s match of the Round will see Tuggeranong United host Belconnen United in the standalone Sunday fixture at Kambah. Tuggies picked up their first win of the season last weekend with a hard-fought victory over Canberra FC; Andrew Slavich’s brace enough to see them past the league leaders. That finished an incredible turnaround within a few days after Miro Trninic stepped down from his post as coach, and Sean Murphy will be hoping that he gets another similarly spirited performance from his charges this time out.
Against the stingiest defence in the league, Slavich almost doubled the team’s goal scoring output for the season, with Tuggies having the third-lowest goals tally so far this season. Their defence has been nothing to scoff at either though, conceding only six goals so far through five games. A win here, dependent on other results, could lift them up as high as sixth spot which will come as vast improvement following a disappointing opening four rounds.
For Belconnen, a thumping 6-1 win over Woden-Weston was the perfect bounce back to defeat at Canberra Olympic the week previous, however a midweek penalty shootout loss to Monaro Panthers in the FFA Cup will not have soothed the mood in the camp.
The league’s top scoring side showed off their free-flowing approach in the big win last weekend but struggled to break down a tight Monaro defence in the knockout matchup.
Jason Ugrinic will be a key piece in this match, the league’s third top-scorer will have his work cut out for him against the home defence. United have the chance here to make serious inroads within the top four with a win, but a loss could see them caught up in the chasing pack.