The stakes are raised in Round 11 as Finals Series contenders lock horns
Three fixtures with immense Finals Series implications will unfold throughout Round 11, as Western Sydney Wanderers face the opportunity to turn a five-horse race into six with a win over Melbourne Victory on Thursday night.
The two sides meet at Lakeside Stadium on March 4 in the first fixture of a round which sees Adelaide United (3rd) take on Sydney FC (1st) and Canberra United (5th) battle Brisbane Roar (2nd).
Only four sides will progress to the post-season to fight to become Westfield W-League Champions. With six points separating third and sixth on the table there's plenty of room for each side to move before the season's end, and Round 11 will go a long way toward deciding the fate of each Finals Series aspirant.
The action gets underway in Melbourne on Thursday with Victory four points clear of the Wanderers. The Red and Black have enjoyed a resurgence under Dean Heffernan of late, winning back-to-back games to move clear of the bottom three sides and ask questions of the teams in the top half of the table.
Victory, meanwhile, drew 1-1 with Canberra in Round 10 to extend their unbeaten streak to four games.
Jeff Hopkins' side are in the strongest position of the teams between fourth and sixth on the table, having played a game less than the Wanderers, and possessing two more points (14) than Canberra (12) after the same amount of games (eight) this season.
Victory have also played one less game than Adelaide who sit in third on the Westfield W-League ladder heading into Round 11.
Victory will push the Reds into fourth should they secure all three points against the Wanderers on Thursday, leaving Adelaide the unenviable task of beating the Sky Blues to regain their spot in the top three.
Adelaide are in a precarious position ahead of Saturday's clash with league-leading Sydney FC, with fixtures against the Roar and Wanderers to follow at the end the 2020/21 campaign.
Adrian Stenta's side lost 2-1 to Saturday's opponents in Round 9, and Sydney will hope a similar result follows this time around to increase their lead to nine points ahead of Brisbane at the top of the table.
The Roar return to action in Round 11 after a bye in Round 10 to visit a Canberra side looking for a crucial win at Viking Park. Green Machine striker Michelle Heyman has six goals to her name to date, trailing Roar spearhead Emily Gielnik (eight) who leads the Golden Boot race by two.
A 4-0 loss to Sydney FC in Round 7 dented Canberra's confidence but Vicki Linton's side have steadied since, beating the Wanderers and drawing with Victory.
Canberra won't want to stay in fifth place for too long, with the Red and Black now just two points behind and sniffing a place in the Finals Series should two teams above them stumble late in the season.
The two sides drew 1-1 in Round 3 after Grace Maher struck a ridiculous equaliser for Canberra from the centre circle. Some more magic may be required if the hosts are to get three points against Brisbane who remain the only undefeated side in the league (W5, D4).
For Jake Goodship's Brisbane side, the Premiers Plate continues to gleam in the distance as the Sky Blues continue to draw nearer to the prize as the rounds tick by.
But preserving their unbeaten status and continuing momentum heading into the post-season will be of upmost importance to the Roar, and what better way to build form than to beat a potential title rival?