Round 20 of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition has arrived and the stakes couldn’t be higher for the league’s 10 teams.
Only three weeks remain in the regular season and the battle for a spot in the finals has reached boiling point.
Results at this stage can make or break a season and this round features a number of crunch matches.
This week’s Match of the Round features league leaders Blacktown City and third placed Rockdale City Suns.
Blacktown City FC v Rockdale City Suns FC, 3pm Sunday at Lilly’s Football Stadium
A likely finals matchup preview is on the cards when Blacktown City hosts Rockdale City Suns on Sunday.
Mark Crittenden’s Blacktown side suffered their first loss in nearly two months last week at the hands of a Manly United side on the rise but will be determined to go a step closer to clinching the Premiership with victory.
It was a rare blip in what has been an incredible season so far for City and they are not going to settle for anything less than victory against Rockdale.
The usual suspects of Joey Gibbs, Mitch Mallia and rising star James Andrew have been the guiding lights for Blacktown this season and will once again be the men to watch on Sunday.
It has been a relatively successful season so far for Rockdale but Paul Reid’s side have failed to truly reach their full potential to date.
The Suns sit in third spot on the ladder and will want to start bringing their A-game with the finals just under a month away.
Both teams know their way to goal and combined with what is on the line for both teams, fans are sure to be given nothing short of a blockbuster clash.
Sutherland Sharks FC v Sydney FC, 6.30pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks will host Sydney FC on Saturday night with both teams out to end their season on a high note.
While the finals are out of reach, there will be still plenty to play for as Grant Lee’s Sharks and Robbie Stanton’s Young Sky Blues battle it out.
Tomohiro Kajiyama has been a bright spot during a tough season for Sutherland and the Japanese midfielder will want to add to his league leading 12 goals.
Sydney FC has had their playing stocks stretched in recent weeks with players backing up from matches with the A-League squad as they step up their preseason program.
Players such as Chris Zuvela and Charles Lokolingoy have impressed this season and are on the cusp of making an A-League breakthrough. With three rounds to go Sydney FC will be giving it their all to finish their maiden season in the competition as high up the ladder as possible.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v Wollongong Wolves FC, 7pm Saturday at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Bonnyrigg White Eagles will be out to play the role of party pooper when they host Wollongong Wolves on Saturday.
A win for the White Eagles would break Wollgonong’s winning streak and all but end any hope of playing in the finals for Jacob TImpano’s team.
Bonnyrigg did everything but win last week against Rockdale City Suns, dominating Paul Reid’s side for the majority of the match but failed to put their opponents away.
They will not make the same mistake against a Wolves team with so much riding on the result at Bonnyrigg Sports Club.
The Wolves have been in incredible form to close the season and have closed the gap to only two points between them and fifth placed Sydney Olympic.
Nothing less than victory will really be enough for Wollongong and with Bonnyrigg out of playoff contention they will be determined to flip the script.
Hakoah Sydney City East FC v Parramatta FC, 7pm Saturday at Hensley Athletic Field
The Westfield FFA Cup may be on Hakoah Sydney City East’s mind but that doesn’t mean they will be anything but determined for victory when they host Parramatta FC on Saturday night.
Gavin Rae’s Hakoah side have lacked consistency this season but have had moments of brilliance which has included an incredible Waratah Cup win.
Parramatta on the other hand will be desperate not to suffer their 14th straight defeat in what has been a horror season for the Melita Stadium base side.
It will be a tough night at Hensley Athletic field for Marshall Soper’s side but a complete 90 minute performance could be the key to a shock win.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC v Manly United FC, 7.45pm Saturday at Lambert Park
The chance at stealing the premiership title from Blacktown City seemed all but pipe dream for APIA Leichhardt Tigers as little as seven days ago.
However, Danial Cummins side are back in the race for the title thanks to their opponents on Saturday, Manly United FC.
While APIA will still need results to go their way for the impossible to become reality, a win against Manly is the first step.
Manly won’t be easy opposition for APIA, a lesson learnt by Blacktown last round, but the Lambert Park side has the pieces to collect victory.
Jordan Murray found his scoring touch against Parramatta and a resilient performance against Sydney Olympic last week helped APIA clinch a vital three points.
Manly on the other hand is in peak form and racing up the table after a string of big wins.
Warren Grieve’s side has found their mojo and have the confidence to take on any team and win.
It is a match with high stakes and both teams will give nothing less than huge performance.
Sydney United 58 FC v Sydney Olympic FC, 4pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 host Sydney Olympic on Sunday with both teams desperate to clinch a finals spot.
With only three weeks to go the pressure is building on last season’s Premiers to cement their participation in the postseason and a victory at home against a struggling Olympic outfit is the first step.
A 5-0 win against Parramatta sure helped United 58’s goal difference but it won’t be as easy against Olympic.
Olympic has been on the slide in recent weeks and fell out of the top five for the first time this season last week after defeat at the hands of APIA.
A win against their rivals is imperative if they are to save their season.