MATCH PREVIEW | Aggressive recruiters Clifton Hill pose biggest test for Clemente's Essendon Royals
Essendon Royals' senior women are one of the Women's State League 2 North-West's hottest properties at the moment, but coach Johnno Clemente says Sundays opponents Clifton Hill are the favourites to win this week's clash.
Clemente said Sunday's fixture against Clifton Hill would be the team's biggest test of the season so far.
Given the Royals are in the middle of a five-game winning streak in which they have scored 23 goals and conceded just three, that shows just how seriously the Royals women are taking the challenge posed by Clifton Hill this weekend.
The trip to Quarries Park will see the Royals take on a Clifton Hill team which has been aggressively rebuilt over the off-season, and while the Royals sit four points ahead of them in the league table, Clemente said Clifton Hill's new-look team was always going to take a few weeks to properly jell.
"This will be our toughest game to date, they are a very strong side with some quality players," he said.
"They have gone and recruited aggressively to put together a good team and the results show they are a quality side."
Clifton Hill defeated Yarra Jets FC 5-0 last week, their third straight 5-0 win and with the Royals four points ahead of them in second place, Clemente has no doubt that Clifton Hill will be doing everything in their power to extend their dominant run of form at the expense of Essendon's.
"It’s a big game for Clifton Hill, they're on a great run of form and are pushing for promotion," he said.
"With the players they have gone and got, they need to win this and I think they're clear favourites.
"We can't go out and recruit like other clubs but given what we started with in pre-season I think the girls have done incredibly well to rise to this level and get to second on the table.
"Just like any other game we are in, we will try and break our opponents down and play to our strengths to get a result.
"I know Clifton have put together a good team, but we will work our hardest to take the three points back home with us."