Brisbane Roar are on mission improbable – and will need their Westfield Matildas stars to step up against Premiers Melbourne City on Sunday.
Fifth-placed Brisbane visit the freshly minted Premiership winners at AAMI Park looking to pull off what would be the ultimate Finals Series heist: that is, if results 24 hours earlier go as planned.
Clare Polkinghorne, Katrina Gorry, Mackenzie Arnold, Tameka Yallop and Elise Kellond-Knight’s Brisbane side trail fourth-place Western Sydney Wanderers and third-place Melbourne Victory by two and three points respectively ahead of the final weekend.
To secure a position in the top four, Roar must deal City their first loss of the campaign. If Western Sydney Wanderers draw or lose against Perth Glory on Saturday night (kick-off 10:15pm AEDT), Brisbane can stamp their ticket with a win.
The result between Glory and Wanderers resembles the most likely route into the top four for Brisbane, although they could also land themselves a spot in the post-season extravaganza should Melbourne Victory suffer a heavy defeat at the hands of Sydney FC on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 5pm AEDT).
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With a win over City on Sunday, Brisbane would find themselves level on points with Victory and it could go down to goal difference (currently, Roar have +5, Victory +8).
Shocking the unbeaten Premiers in their own backyard will be no small task for Brisbane though. City’s Westfield Matildas Steph Catley, Ellie Carpenter, Aivi Luik, Emily van Egmond and Lydia Williams were all involved as Rado Vidosic’s side thumped Western Sydney Wanderers 4-0 last Thursday to seal the Premiers' Plate and are avoiding complacency at all costs.
The Finals Series equation is more straightforward but the challenge no less severe for Victory’s Westfield Matildas Jenna McCormick, Teagan Micah, Teigen Allen and Laura Brock.
Victory host rivals Sydney FC in the Big Blue knowing a point would be enough to guarantee a top four position.
Alanna Kennedy and Princess Ibini’s Sydney, on the other hand, need a point to wrap up second position – although a loss to their counterparts would see Victory leapfrog them, and could open the door for the Wanderers to lift themselves over them too, should the Red and Black beat Perth by a strong margin (Sydney have a goal difference of +10, Wanderers +3).
Amy Harrison’s Wanderers are approaching desperation stakes ahead of their visit to WA.
Harrison and Western Sydney have lost four of their last five matches and are clinging on to fourth spot ahead of Saturday’s trip to WA but will confirm their post-season participation with a win.
Meanwhile, the contest between Sarah Willacy’s Adelaide United and Gema Simon’s Newcastle Jets shapes as a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
Anything less than a win for the Reds would see Ivan Karlovic’s side finish bottom of the pile for 2019/20, as they trail the Jets by three competition points but hold a superior goal difference (Adelaide -13, Newcastle -14).