It is Round 13 in the National Premier Leagues NSW competition and if last week’s action is anything to go by there could be plenty of surprises ahead this weekend’s fixtures.
Sydney Olympic cling on to top spot after a shock loss to Bonnyrigg White Eagles. They play potentially one of the most important games of their regular season on Sunday when they host second placed APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Blacktown City are at home for the second straight week and face off against rivals Sydney United 58 who have finally made an appointment for their head coach with Miro Vlastelica stepping in.
The round kicks off on Saturday night with three big games as Manly United hosts Hakoah Sydney City East, Bonnyrigg White Eagles travel to Marconi Stadium to play Marconi Stallions, while Sydney FC return home to Lambert Park to take on Sutherland Sharks.
Rockdale City Suns will be hoping to make it two wins from two games when they face off against Wollongong Wolves in the final match of the round on Sunday night.
Manly United FC v Hakoah Sydney City East FC, 7pm Saturday at Cromer Park
An inspired Manly United FC will be hoping to replicate their luck and good form from last round when they host Hakoah Sydney City East at Cromer Park on Saturday.
Manly dug deep to snatch an incredible 1-0 win away from home against APIA Leichhardt Tigers in Round 12 with the result hopefully kick starting their push for finals football.
Hakoah were also winners last week as they cruised to a 3-1 win against bottom side Sydney FC.
Manly has struggled to reach the heights of the Championship winning 2017 season but not all is lost for the boys from the Northern Beaches with 10 rounds still to be played.
Kieran Paull was the hero for Manly against APIA and it’s not for the first time this season from the talented defender. When in form he is a match-up nightmare on the flanks and provide’s plenty of crosses into the box for United strikers Dylan Macallister and Nikola Taneski.
Dom Ferguson has also served the club well with a string of decent performances in midfield.
Hakoah will be without their best player this week after Kiwi attacking weapon Andre de Jong was selected by New Zealand for their tour of India.
New signing Amaury Gauthier should help fill the void and he proved last week he is no slouch himself scoring a goal on debut while young Harry Jones is a player you need to put in your notebooks as one to watch out for.
Both sides have been inconsistent this season but have flashed plenty of solid performances to be on the cusp of a finals spot.
Manly will be favourites at home yet Hakoah shouldn’t be written off
Marconi Stallions v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 7pm Saturday at Marconi Stadium
Three competition points are desperately needed by Marconi Stallions and they will be hoping to add them to their tally on Saturday with a win against Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
The Stallions come into the game after being held to a 2-2 draw with local rivals Sydney United 58 in a hard fought encounter.
Bonnyrigg will be brimming with confidence after upsetting league leaders Sydney Olympic 1-0 in arguably the shock result of the season.
Marko Jesic was the man for Marconi last week continuing his impressive form for Peter Tsekenis’ side this season. His speed, tricky dribbling and composure in the final third makes him a dangerous player to take on. While no nonsense defender Peter Pelekanos has also proved his worth in the club’s back-line after a solid display against United 58 although the club is expecting to have the experienced Theo Kofinas back into the side.
The White Eagles will lean on captain Ray Miller once again this round with the veteran midfielder’s experience a game changer in big matches. He along with his chargers, in particular another familiar face with the return from injury in the shape of Tynan Diaz, Brian Brown’s men will be up for this one you can be sure of that.
A full 90 minute from Marconi will make them a tough team to beat at home, however too many times this season they have failed to perform for the entirety of the match.
Bonnyrigg need to recreate the dogged defence and desperation of their win against Olympic. Mistakes and poor defending have been their Achilles Heel so far this campaign.
Both teams are very evenly matched and with finals still a potential reality their won’t be any excuses for a poor showing in what is set to be a tough encounter.
Sydney FC v Sutherland Sharks, 7.45pm Saturday at Lambert Park
There is still plenty of time for Sydney FC to fight their way off the bottom of the NPL NSW competition ladder but a loss this weekend when they host Sutherland Sharks could make relegation a real possibility.
The Young Sky Blues were well below their best during their 3-1 loss to Hakoah Sydney City East last round and will need a huge bounce back performance.
One player that won’t be in Robbie Stanton’s squad will be striker Hassan Jalloh. The young attacker played his last match against Hakoah and has since made the move to NPL 2 NSW Men’s outfit Mounties Wanderers.
Sutherland were also on the wrong side of a losing scoreline as they went down 1-0 to their southern Sydney rivals Rockdale City Suns in Round 12.
Jacob Tratt has lead the way for the Sharks week in and week out this season after arriving from A-League side Wellington Phoenix. However, the defender must get his team working from the same playbook this round if they are to edge an energetic Sydney FC side.
Goalkeeper Duro Dragicevic was the one shining light for Sydney FC in last week’s loss making a number of incredible saves for the Young Sky Blues. If their defence replicates last week’s effort he could be in for another busy shift.
Inexperience and poor judgement have cost both teams in a number of games this season, this match could very much come down to who can maintain their composure the longest.
Sydney Olympic v APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 3pm Sunday at Belmore Sports Ground
When Sydney Olympic host APIA Leichhardt Tigers on Sunday afternoon, both teams will take to the pitch with the knowledge the result of this match could very well decide the Premiership.
First placed Sydney Olympic hold a three point buffer ahead of second placed APIA but could’ve very easily been locked on 28 points after Olympic suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Bonnyrigg last round.
However, APIA were unable to take their opportunity to cut into the lead of their Premiership rivals as they too suffered a 1-0 upset loss to Manly United.
Left back Riley Woodcock has provided a new weapon to Olympic’s fast paced attack in recent weeks shining dangerous crosses in from the flanks for prolific front man Alejandro Sanchez.
For APIA, the man will once again be Jordan Murray. The league’s leading scorer failed to add to his 11 goals last match and will be hungry to add to his tally.
This game has the potential to be one of the matches of the season with both teams playing a free flowing and attacking brand of football.
After their unlikely defeats in round 12 they will both come into the game with a renewed focus and drive. The pressure and importance of winning this clash adds even more intrigue for what is set to be a blockbuster contest.
Blacktown City FC v Sydney United 58, 3pm Sunday at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City will be determined to rediscover their free scoring ways when they host Sydney United 58 on Sunday.
City’s struggles in hitting the back of the net cost them last round against Wollongong Wolves and they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw despite having more than their fair share of chances.
United 58 were also forced to share the points in Round 12 with a 2-2 draw against Marconi Stallions.
Joey Gibbs has quietly been going about his work for Mark Crittenden’s Blacktown side this season but has once again lead the line with aplomb. He was a constant threat last week and should’ve scored more than just the one goal he netted in the draw.
The big news from Edensor Park coming into this clash is the hire of Miro Vlastelica as United 58’s new head coach.
The side has been without a manager since the resignation of Jason Culina after their Round 8 loss to fierce rivals Bonnyrigg White Eagles. Vlastelica will have plenty of work to do if he is to get the side firing on all cylinders ahead of this big clash.
One headache will be the loss of Nick Stavroulakis who was starting to find his form after an injury riddled start to the season – the club captain saw red against the Marconi Stallions and will sit this match out although alot of pressure will be placed on the shoulders of one Panny Nikas.
Blacktown will be the favourites going into this matchup with their endless supply of attacking weapons and experienced defenders making them a very difficult team to defeat.
However, they have had their moments of weakness this season and if United 58 can take their chances could be in with a chance of snatching an upset.
Rockdale City Suns v Wollongong Wolves, 5pm Sunday at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns kick started their season last round and will want to make it back to back wins when they host Wollongong Wolves on Sunday.
A 1-0 win against a plucky Sutherland Sharks team was the result Rockdale needed after a frustrating first half of the season.
Similarly Wollongong have been a team failing to perform up to their potential and were lucky to snatch a 1-1 draw on the road against Blacktown City.
While it was young winger Bai Antoniou who was the breakout star from the Suns’ Round 12 win, it was the performance of their defence which stood out to fans of the club.
Defence has been Rockdale’s biggest weakness this campaign and if club captain and centre back Daniel Petkovski can get his side’s defender back to their best then the Suns will be a side to watch out for.
Hometown hero Luke WIlkshire netted his first goal since returning to the Wolves in last week’s draw. If the former Socceroo can find form he could be the driving force which could elevate Wollongong to the finals.
Both team’s have been a bit of an enigma this season with fans not knowing what they will get from their side each week.
Rockdale will be marginal favourites for this game based purely on the fact that they are playing at home. There are plenty of match winners on both rosters and it could come down to one or two key moments.