Round fifteen could see a potential changing of the guard in the top five with Sydney United 58 baring down the necks of Hakoah Sydney City East, while Sutherland Sharks and Wollongong face off in a top of the table contest on the South Coast.
Blacktown City v APIA Leichhardt Tigers, Sunday 1.00pm at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City know they can’t afford to slip up when APIA Leichhardt Tigers come calling at Lily Homes Stadium this Sunday.
Although they have one game in hand, City find themselves six points behind leaders Sutherland Sharks with eight rounds of the competition remaining. After last weekend’s match with Bonnyrigg White Eagles was washed out, John Carnevale’s side enter the fixture with one win in their last four.
Blacktown will need to rekindle their momentum ahead of the home stretch of the campaign, particularly with Sydney FC and Wollongong Wolves lurking behind the table-topping Sharks as well.
Nothing less than three points will satisfy the home side against a visiting APIA Leichhardt team who simply cannot find their groove so far this season. Franco Consentino’s men boast a talented roster but have failed to register back to back wins this campaign, and enter the clash with City on the back of a disappointing home loss to Marconi Stallions last Sunday.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Sydney Olympic, 2.30pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East need to bounce back from last Saturday’s defeat to Sutherland Sharks when they host Sydney Olympic at Hensley Athletic Field on Saturday afternoon.
Hakoah’s 2-1 defeat to Sutherland saw the side’s position in the top five loosen a little further, with sixth-placed Sydney United 58 now only three points away from ousting the Eastern Sydney outfit in the finals positions.
The side will also be eager to avoid a third straight defeat – and having impressed so convincingly throughout the middle third of the campaign, another loss for Hakoah would be a bitter pill to swallow.
Visitors Sydney Olympic will be desperate to frustrate Hakoah further, and despite heading into the encounter rooted to the bottom of the table, the Blues will take confidence from their impressive 3-0 victory in round four’s reverse fixture.
Time for Olympic to press their claim for a top five spot is well and truly running out with the Blues 12 points outside the finals positions – it could be an all or nothing performance from the Belmore club on Saturday.
Manly United v Marconi Stallions, 3.00pm at Cromer Park
Manly United entertain a resurgent Marconi Stallions outfit at Cromer Park this Saturday looking to continue their excellent recent form.
Adam Griffith’s side have won four of their last six matches, including a superb 4-0 rout of Sydney Olympic last weekend – and are only four points outside the top five.
It’s been a commendable recovery for Manly after a stuttering start to the season, and has largely been underpinned by defensive improvement with the Cromer Park outfit leaking just three goals in their last six.
Manly’s form will make for a finely poised encounter against the Stallions, who will be riding high after a fantastic 3-1 victory over APIA Leichhardt last Sunday. It’s now two wins on the trot for Nahuel Arrarte’s men, who will be hugely motivated for the clash knowing they can overtake their opponents on the ladder with a win.
Sydney FC v Sydney United 58, 5.45pm at Lambert Park
Sydney FC will aim to remain in the premiership hunt with a win over Sydney United 58 at Lambert Park this Saturday.
The Sky Blues have been big improvers in the last fortnight, registering a pair of huge wins over title rivals Sutherland Sharks and Wollongong Wolves, and should be in buoyant mood for the visit of Sydney United 58.
Giancarlo Italiano’s side have at times struggled to be ruthless this campaign, but the manner in which the Sky Blues have toppled their premiership contenders in the past two weeks suggests Sydney might be the real deal.
But Sydney must avoid complacency when the Reds arrive at Lambert Park, who are now only three points away from re-entering the top five. United 58 have won three of their last four and after a horrible six-match winless run earlier in the season appear to be heading back in the right direction.
Wollongong Wolves v Sutherland Sharks, 1.00pm at Albert Butler Memorial Park
Wollongong Wolves entertain Sutherland Sharks in a top of the table affair on Sunday hoping to keep their outside premiership chances alive.
The Wolves are eight points behind the competition leaders with eight rounds remaining but have a great chance to reduce the deficit at Albert Butler Memorial Park.
The South Coast outfit were narrowly pipped 2-1 by Sydney FC at home last weekend and will be hoping to avoid similar disappointment this time around – however they will need to redouble their efforts or the visit of the competition heavyweights.
Sutherland returned to form with a 2-1 win over Hakoah Sydney City East last Saturday after suffering back to back defeats in the previous two weeks. The Sharks still hold a six-point gap over second-placed Sydney FC, but can’t afford to take rest of the campaign lightly and have set their sights on replicating their premiership and championship double of 2017.
They’ll first need to deal with the immediate challenge of Wollongong – whom they defeated 1-0 in the verse fixture at Seymour Shaw in round four. It’s likely to be another arm-wrestle on Sunday which will make for an intriguing contest in the context of the premiership race.
Rockdale City Suns v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 3.00pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns round out round 15 of the competition at home to Bonnyrigg White Eagles needing a win to regenerate their season.
The Suns have lost back to back fixtures against Sydney United 58 and Wollongong Wolves coming into the contest – which will frustrate the Rockdale side to no end, having defeated Sutherland and held Sydney FC to a draw in the previous two.
Rockdale have proven to be a better side than their lowly position on the ladder suggests, but time is running out for the Suns to keep themselves in the hunt for a top five position. They’ll be targeting this Sunday’s home fixture against Bonnyrigg as a must win.
Last weekends washout for Bonnyrigg has given Hamish Brown’s side a chance to refresh and the White Eagles should be raring to go come the weekend. Bonnyrigg are currently eighth on the competition ladder and six points away from the top five, but with a match in hand and only one loss in their previous four, the White Eagles have a great chance to improve their standings with a win over the Suns.
-By Jacob Windon