The second half of the National Premier Leagues NSW season is upon us starting with this week’s Round 12 fixtures.
Sydney Olympic reached the half way mark of the competition in top spot and have a three point lead ahead of second placed APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Third placed Blacktown City remain in touch with the top two trailing Olympic by five points.
There is a log jam in the middle of the table with only five points separating fourth to tenth spot on the table.
With eleven weeks to go until the finals, time is running out for teams to find form and every competition point will be vital.
Sutherland Sharks FC v Rockdale City Suns, 6.30pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw – LIVE ON NPL NSW MEN’S FACEBOOK PAGE
Clinging onto their spot inside the top five, Sutherland Sharks will be determined to consolidate their chance at finals football with a win when they host Rockdale City Suns on Saturday in what will be a fiery derby.
Sutherland are currently fifth in the standings, ahead of Wollongong only on goal difference.
Last week Grant Lee’s side suffered a 2-1 loss at their Seymour Shaw home ground to Blacktown City.
Their opponents Rockdale City Suns were also on the wrong side of a losing scoreline as they went down 2-0 to bottom side Sydney FC.
Sutherland has proven to be a solid team across the park with defender Jacob Tratt developing the Sharks defence into one of the league’s toughest units.
One player that has been a little quiet after starting the year like a house on fire has been striker Adrian Vranic. The young attacker has not hit the back of the net since round 7 but will be hoping to change his fortunes by upping his scoring tally from seven for the year.
Rockdale City Suns have struggled this season being plagued with inconsistency and poor performances – this was further put to the test as they lost 2-0 to Sydney FC last Saturday further putting pressure on player/manager Paul Reid.
The Suns sit only one win off the bottom of the table despite boasting the league’s third best attack not to mention some quality players at the club’s disposal including Ante Covic, Blake Ricciuto, Alec Urosevski, Jordan Figon, Daniel Petkovski and Trent McClenahan to name a few.
This game will come down to discipline and which team remains mistake free.
Both sides have plenty to play for so it certainly won’t be lacking excitement.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v Sydney Olympic, 7pm Saturday at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Three points off the bottom of the table but still in sight of finals football, Bonnyrigg White Eagles will be desperate to turn their season around starting with Saturday night’s clash against. Sydney Olympic.
Bonnyrigg has struggled this season but are high on confidence after a impressive win against last season’s grand final winners Manly United in Round 11.
This week they take on the league leaders Sydney Olympic and will need to bring nothing short of their best performance if they are to stand any chance of claiming an upset.
Olympic come into the game off a solid victory against Sydney United 58 and hold a three point lead at the top of the table.
White Eagles off-season recruit Dean Bereveskos finally hit the target for 2018 after slotting one home against Manly United last Saturday. The skilful attacker could prove to be a key contributor for Bonnyrigg over the second half of the season starting with the clash against Olympic.
He alongside Shervin Adeli could slowly form a deadly partnership should the two continue to work together with the absence of striker Aaron Peterson.
The White Eagles will need to back up from its round 6 FFA Cup clash against St George FA on Wednesday so Brian Brown’s men will be certainly put through the litmus test.
Thomas Whiteside has been the breakout star for Olympic this campaign with the defender in incredible form. He scored his second goal in as many weeks in round 11 and will be looking to make it three from three against Bonnyrigg.
Nothing more can be said about the club’s Spanish star Alejandro Sanchez. The former La Liga player has been in fine form for the Blues and it his link-up play with Max Burgess that has been a sight to see for the Blues.
While the odds will be stacked against Bonnyrigg this week, they should not be written off especially at their cauldron.
Sydney United 58 FC v Marconi Stallions, 7.30pm Saturday at Sydney United Sports Centre
Beware of the wounded animal.
This will be evident for both teams as two former NSL rivals go toe to toe on Saturday.
Sydney United 58 will be determined for a bounce back performance when they host Marconi Stallions at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday night.
United 58 have had some impressive performances this season to lift them to fourth position on the table, but have also been let down by inconsistency.
A loss to league leaders Sydney Olympic last round was their fifth defeat of the campaign and took their record to five wins, five losses and a draw.
Their opponents this week, Marconi Stallions, were also on the wrong side of a losing scoreline going down 1-0 to Wollongong Wolves.
Sydney United 58 has been without a head coach since the resignation of Jason Culina in April, while have also been without Panny Nikas for a few matches. Nikas made his return to action last week off the bench and the mercurial playmaker will surely slip back into the starting lineup for this match.
His addition is sure to create headaches for the Marconi defence while more is expected from their prized 2018 signing Patrick Antelmi who thus far has not been able to strike up a formidable partnership with striker Chris Payne.
The Stallions on the other hand have battled injury this season and have struggled to name their strongest team.
When fit, Mateo Poljak is the heart of the Marconi midfield and is the glue which holds the side together through the middle of the park. They are a much tougher side with the Asian Champions League winner in the line-up.
Still, the club does boost a number of quality in their camp as a number of rival NPL NSW Men’s teams would love to have players such as Sean Rooney, Michael Beauchamp, Marko Jesic, James Andrew, Chris Nunes and keeper Nenad Vekic.
These historic clubs have always played out hard fought contests and expect this fixture to be no different.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Sydney FC, 3pm Sunday at Hensley Athletic Field
Nothing short of a win will be considered a good result when Hakoah Sydney City East host Sydney FC at Hensley Athletic Field on Sunday.
Hakoah come into the game after suffering their second loss in as many games, a 3-1 loss to reigning National Premier Leagues NSW Premiers APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Sydney FC on the other hand come into the game after halting a 10 game run win less streak with victory against Rockdale City Suns.
Despite winning only three of eleven matches so far this season, Hakoah remain in the hunt for the finals sitting one win outside the top five. Victory against Sydney FC is vital to stay in touch with the pack.
Anthony Bouzanis has been the unspoken hero for Hakoah this season with the young glove man keeping the Eastgardens side in many matches with his incredible shot stopping ability.
Bouzanis will be put to the test against in-form Young Sky Blues striking duo Jeremy Cox and Hassan Jalloh.
Cox made his mark in round one with a hat trick against Hakoah and has continued his great play to notch seven goals going into Round 12. When Cox and Jalloh are on song, Sydney FC are very difficult to defend.
Both young sides are fighting to stay in the hunt for finals football but have failed to make the most of their determined displays so far.
A win this round does a lot for team confidence and could be the building block for something greater in coming weeks.
Blacktown City FC v Wollongong Wolves, 3pm Sunday at Lily Homes Stadium – LIVE ON NPL NSW MEN’S FACEBOOK PAGE
Perennial Premiership contenders Blacktown City have gone under the radar so far this season, but a win against Wollongong Wolves at Lily Homes Stadium on Sunday could be the result which makes other sides take notice.
Blacktown led the competition in the opening weeks but a three game run without a win meant they fell to third place.
Crittenden’s side has rediscovered their winning ways and have won all their matches since to take them five points behind Sydney Olympic.
Their opponents this week Wollongong are sixth on the ladder and were last week narrow victors against Marconi Stallions.
Blacktown City is a side never to be written off with stars across all three lines. Mitch Mallia has taken his game to another level this season and has been a key difference maker in the Blacktown attack. The return of Danny Choi has also given City another wrinkle in their attack which also boasts the talented Devante Clut and Joey Gibbs.
Wollongong on the other hand are perennial underachievers and boast one of the most experienced line-ups in the competition. With all their marquee names, The Wolves need to start getting results.
Former J-League striker Yuzo Tashiro found the net once again and will be the main target in attack for the Wolves. He will have plenty of pressure against a resurgent Blacktown defence.
Blacktown is firing on all cylinders and playing some impressive football. They will be short odd favourites against Wollongong but the Wolves do have the talent across the board to snatch a result.
It is sure to be an exciting contest.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC v Manly United FC, 4.15pm Sunday at Lambert Park
A Grand Final rematch between APIA Leichhardt Tigers and Manly United FC will close out Round 12 when the two sides face off at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides have had contrasting fortunes throughout the first 11 weeks of the season and will be determined to make a statement with a big win this weekend.
APIA has rarely put a foot wrong this campaign and have only one major slip up on their way to second place on the Ladder at the midway point in the competition.
Manly on the other hand have been a shadow of the side which claimed Championship glory with a win against the Tigers in last season’s decider.
APIA come into this week’s match after defeating Hakoah Sydney City East last round 3-1, while Manly suffered a shock 2-1 loss at the hands of 11th placed Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
Jordan Murray has been the man to watch for APIA this season with the young striker coming of age this season. He has scored 11 goals in as many games in both league and cup competitions.
Manly United has been depleted by injury throughout the first 11 rounds and suffered without holding midfielder Sasa Macura in the loss to Bonnyrigg. If he can make a return this week it will give Manly a major boost.
APIA were victors when the two sides clashed in round one but it could be a very different story on Sunday.