A host of Westfield Matildas stars are set to return to club action in the Westfield W-League this weekend, with Sydney Derby and Melbourne Derby clashes headlining the action in Round 12.
The competition’s top four clubs will face off as returning Westfield Matildas stars turn their attentions to local bragging rights, as well as crucial competition points in a tight race for places in the Finals Series.
Following an extended match schedule in the AFC Olympic Qualifying Tournament, key Westfield W-League fixtures have been altered to give national team players an opportunity to return to their clubs this weekend.
On Saturday, the round will get underway with Sydney FC welcoming back defender Alanna Kennedy for their meeting with fierce rivals Western Sydney Wanderers.
Both teams are level on 19 points on the Westfield W-League ladder, with the Wanderers just pipping the Sky Blues for second place with superior goal difference – no doubt helped by the Western Sydney's five-goal thrashing of their rivals when they last met in Round 6.
A win for either side will be crucial to their hopes of reeling in league-leaders Melbourne City, who tackle the resurgent Melbourne Victory in their own Derby clash, now scheduled for Sunday to accommodate both team's returning Westfield Matildas.
City will look to the attacking midfield creativity of Emily van Egmond and Aivi Luik, as well as the tireless wide runs of fullback Ellie Carpenter, to provide the spark as they seek to extend their unbeaten run to ten matches this season.
Providing the outlet up front will be attacker Kyah Simon, but she find stern opposition in no-nonsense defender Jenna McCormick for the Victory, who has helped her side to consecutive clean sheets in their march into the top four.
In goal, a possible head-to-head looms between Westfield Matildas shot-stoppers with Lydia Williams eyeing a return to the City goalmouth, while Teagan Micah will be eligible to take the gloves for the Victory.
It promises to be another tight contest with only the thinnest margins separating the sides in City’s 1-0 win earlier this season – the fourth time in five prior Melbourne Derby meetings decided by a single goal margin.
Also in action on Sunday, a quintet of Westfield Matildas will exchange the green-and-gold for Brisbane Roar orange when they tackle Perth Glory in the WA capital at Dorrien Gardens.
Mackenzie Arnold, Elise Kellond-Knight, Tameka Yallop, Katrina Gorry and Clare Polkinghorne will be eager to take advantage of any slip-up by the top four in the must-win clash.
Currently three-points outside the Westfield W-League top four, the Roar remain firmly in the frame for the Semi Finals if they can get take the points against a susceptible Glory side, whose last start win over Newcastle Jets marks their only win of the season to date.
Sunday will also see Karly Roestbakken return for Canberra United in their final home match of the campaign against Adelaide United at McKellar Park.
With a bye in the final round, Canberra are now out of the race for the Finals Series but there is still plenty to play for Roestbakken’s side against an increasingly plucky Reds side.
Canberra are without a win nor a goal in their last four matches and are aiming for a strong close to the season to farewell coach Heather Garriock, who will not be retained for next season.