Sutherland Sharks can take another big step towards the premiership with a win over third-placed Sydney FC on Saturday and could potentially seal the title on the weekend if second-placed Blacktown City fall to in-form Rockdale City Suns on Sunday.
Match of the Round
Sutherland Sharks v Sydney FC, Saturday 4.30pm at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks will have a firm grasp on the 2017 Premiership if the leaders can defeat Sydney FC at home on Saturday afternoon.
Nick Dimovski’s side have led the competition outright since the opening round and will fancy their chances at driving home their title charge and ending the faint premiership hopes of the third-placed Sky Blues when the two heavyweights meet.
The Sharks have recovered admirably following a mid-season wobble that threatened to hamstring their campaign with four wins from their last five matches. With three rounds of the regular season remaining Sutherland hold a four-point advantage over Blacktown City and are six points ahead of Sydney FC.
The Sky Blues have proven their quality throughout the campaign but will need to steel themselves for one of the biggest meetings of the year as they search for a victory that would reignite the premiership race in a big way.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Wollongong Wolves, 5.00pm at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
It’s a must win game for Bonnyrigg White Eagles who will be looking to keep their finals hopes alive when Wollongong Wolves arrive at Bonnyrigg Sports Club on Saturday evening.
After a sensational mid-season run of seven wins in a row the White Eagles have suffered back to back losses to Sutherland Sharks and Rockdale and are now four points behind the fifth-placed Suns with only a fortnight of action remaining.
Opponents Wollongong have endured a consistent year and will be looking for their first win since a round 14 win over Manly United. The Wolves are currently in eleventh position and have little but pride and club championship points at stake but will relish the chance to bring an end to Bonnyrigg’s top-five aspirations.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Parramatta, 5.00pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East can bolster their finals hopes with a win over bottom-placed Parramatta when the two sides meet at Hensley Athletic Field on Saturday night.
Paul Hubbard’s side are among a cluster of sides baying for fourth and fifth position and are four points behind fifth-placed Rockdale ahead of their remaining three fixtures.
Hakoah must allow no room for complacency when they welcome the struggling Eagles and will be desperate for three points with a key encounter with Sydney Olympic to come in round 21.
With forward Connor Eldridge continuing his excellent season with another goal against Sydney FC last Saturday it could be another long afternoon for Parramatta who have conceded 20 goals in their last three fixtures.
The Eagles offered several signs of promise before a second half collapse in last Sunday’s 6-1 defeat at the hands of Sydney United 58 with midfielder Modassir Hussain in particular catching the eye, and will need to deliver a strong performance to avoid a 15th consecutive loss.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Manly United, 5.45pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt Tigers will be targeting a win to sure up their position the top five when reigning premiers Manly United arrive at Lambert Park in Saturday’s final match.
Franco Consentino’s side come into the encounter level on 30 points with fifth-placed Rockdale City Suns and must be wary of Sydney United 58 side lurking one point behind in sixth.
The Tigers have looked potential challengers for the majority of the season but will need to see off Manly with minimum fuss considering two huge fixtures against Blacktown City and Rockdale are to follow in the final fortnight of competition.
It makes three points against the Cromer Park outfit essential for APIA who will bank on the likes of Aedon Kyra (14 goals in 19 appearances) and Jordan Morfitis (seven goals in 17 appearances) to keep their top five credentials in check.
Blacktown City v Rockdale City Suns, 1.00pm at Lilys Football Centre
Blacktown City know they must beat Rockdale City Suns to maintain their title bid when the two meet at Lilys Football Centre on Sunday afternoon.
John Carnevale’s side have come close to reining in the Sharks in recent weeks but a 2-2 draw with Manly last Saturday has given City a four point gap to bridge with three fixtures remaining.
Blacktown will be hoping for a favour from third-placed Sydney when the Sky Blues travel to Sutherland on Saturday evening but City must be wary of an ever improving Rockdale outfit that have hit form at exactly the right time of the season.
The Suns have won six of their last seven matches and will be relishing the chance to prove their credentials as genuine dark horses on Sunday afternoon. Forward James Temelkovsi also enters the match with five goals in his last two matches and will need to be tightly marshalled by the City rear-guard.
Blacktown skipper Mason Ireland represents the central goal threat for the visitors – the midfielder netted a brace in last Saturday’s draw with Manly to bring his tally for the campaign to 14.
Sydney United 58 v Sydney Olympic, 2.00pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 could inflict huge damage on the top five prospects of Sydney Olympic when the two rivals clash at Edensor Park in round 20’s final fixture.
The Reds have won three consecutive matches to go within striking distance of fifth-placed Rockdale and with the Suns handed the difficult assignment of Blacktown City an hour earlier United 58 will rate their chances of leapfrogging Rockdale on the ladder.
They’ll have to come an Olympic side who have slipped away from finals contention having won just one of their last five fixtures. A 3-3 draw with APIA Leichhardt last Sunday represents improvement for the Blues but with only three rounds remaining and key matches against Hakoah and Sutherland to come, Olympic will have to muster one of their best performances in recent weeks to keep their finals hopes alive.
-By Jacob Windon