Stingrays hit top form on the road

Stingray Jordan Baker scored two goals against Blacktown Spartans

Stingray Jordan Baker scored two goals against Blacktown Spartans

FOOTBALL

A convincing 3-0 win over Blacktown Spartans has the Illawarra Stingrays in prime position to slide into a finals birth.

After staring at the prospect of missing the post-season just two months ago, the Rays are now just three points out of the top-four heading into the final cycle of round matches this campaign.

Sunday's win saw the Rays move into sixth spot, with just five points covering second to seventh on the ladder.

"If we keep that momentum up in the next round we should be playing finals," coach Graham Shaw said.

"At the start of the second round we were sitting bottom when it started and said this round will dictate whether we get in a situation where finals are reachable.

"We have done quite well, I think we have only had one or two losses."

Sunday's away win over the Spartans ensured Illawarra stayed within touching distance of a coveted finals spot.

Attacking duo Michelle Carney and Jordan Baker were again in the thick of the action and split the Rays' three goals between them.

Baker hammered home a brace with her first coming midway through the first half.

After being sent through on goal, the young Western Sydney Wanderers attacker finished with aplomb to hand the Rays a deserved lead.

She added her second early in the second half when Erica Halloway crossed perfectly before Baker rounded the keeper to double the advantage.

Carney then sealed the result from a corner to hand Illawarra three points on the road.

"We basically dominated them for the whole game," Shaw said.

"They are not a bad side but we had a lot more possession, defended really well and got our first goal in the first half to go into the break 1-0 up.

"Second half, we had the wind at our back and they were just defending for 45 minutes really. We didn't see too much football in our half."

The Stingrays face Marconi Stallions in their first match of the final sequence of round matches.

The Stallions look at long odds to defend their title as they sit a below-par eighth on the ladder.

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