The weekend scouting report

The Wanderers are Gosford-bound this Sunday where we host champions Canberra United in the W-League match of the round, before taking on the eighth-placed Central Coast Mariners. Here’s the lowdown on both our opponents.

W-League (Canberra United)

A late winner from Nicole Begg gave Canberra an important second win of the season over Sydney FC last Sunday, moving them above the Wanderers and into third position.

Only Canberra’s superior goal difference (+1) separates the two teams coming into the fixture, with both sides level on seven points apiece.

And with only two points separating Adelaide United in second and Sydney FC in eighth, this is a clash that could go a long way to determining each side’s finals chances.

After two losses in their first three, Rae Dower’s side are beginning to turn a few heads with a string of quietly impressive performances, most notably going toe-to-toe with the imperious Melbourne City before eventually succumbing to a 4-2 defeat.

Canberra United

Only the dominant City and a defensively adept Newcastle Jets boast a better defensive record, with United custodian Lydia Williams conceding just 2.6 shots on her goal per game. The Canberrans have kept two clean sheets on the bounce now, and are gathering real momentum in the defensive aspect of their game.

This offers a big challenge for Norm Boardman’s Wanderers, who despite their significantly positive showings this season have often lacked a clinical element in front of goal – averaging just 3 shots per game.

However, Canberra haven’t found goals easy to come by themselves – registering just 3.6 shots per game. It highlights the closeness between Sunday’s opponents, in a match that should come down to the wire.

A-League (Central Coast Mariners)

The Mariners have impressed many during the opening stages of the season with their commitment to a hell-for-leather, attacking style of football. Whilst such an approach has paid off in some instances, like their injury time equalizer at Newcastle in round 6, it’s a philosophy that inevitably has left them widely exposed.

It’s not much of a surprise, therefore, that Tony Walmsey’s men have taken more shots per game (14.8) than any other team in the league, but conversely have been on the receiving end at the other side of the pitch: conceding the most shots on goal per game (5.8) and leaking the second-most goals (14).

Still, should the Mariners catch Tony Popovic’s men off-guard, there’s every chance the Wanderers will have their work cut out to make five wins on the bounce a possibility.

Central Coast Mariners

The Mariners will look to move the ball quickly up two offensively-positioned wingers and capitalize on any space left behind by the opposition fullbacks. Irish forward Roy O’Donovan has made a positive start to his A-League career with three goals in seven, whilst Nick Montgomery and Anthony Caceres are forging a good understanding in the middle of the park, especially given the cavalier attitude of the team.

The issue for Walmsey is he will be without his first-choice wide men for Sunday’s clash, with Mitch Austin and Fabio Ferreira both injury stricken. It leaves the new Central Coast manager with plenty more to ponder as he tries to halt the Wanderers juggernaut.