Is this the weekend we see a new leader in the NPL NSW Men’s 20’s competition? Sutherland Sharks have led the way all campaign but a defeat for the reigning champions against Sydney United 58 could see an ever-improving Sydney FC side ready to pounce.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Rockdale City Suns, Sunday 1.30pm at Lambert Park
It’s a must win clash for both APIA Leichhardt Tigers and Rockdale City Suns when the struggling pair face off at Lambert Park on Sunday.
With both sides languishing in 10th and 11th position on the ladder and nine and 12 points away from the top five respectively, the finals ambitions of either APIA or Rockdale will surely come to an end following their meeting this afternoon.
It’s been a disappointing season for both teams thus far, with the Tigers enduring an inconsistent and underwhelming campaign. Franco Consentino’s side have struggled to hit the heights of last year’s Grand Final finish, conceding far too many crucial goals and failing to ignite a talented frontline to its fullest potential.
It leaves the Tigers in a desperate situation if they are to maintain their outside bid for the finals, and for visitors Rockdale the predicament is more severe. The Suns have failed to build on a series of promising displays against the competition’s elite last month and slumped to a third straight defeat to Bonnyrigg White Eagles last Saturday, meaning Rockdale must emerge from Lambert Park victorious to keep their season alive.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Sydney FC, 5.00pm at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Bonnyrigg White Eagles welcome an in-form Sydney FC side to Bonnyrigg Sports Club this Saturday evening with the Sky Blues aiming to continue their stellar recent form.
Giancarlo Italiano’s men put seven past Sydney United 58 last weekend to move within two points of leaders Sutherland Sharks, and appear to be hitting their peak form at an opportune moment in the season.
While the Sky Blues will enter the clash with the White Eagles as the league’s top scorers, they’ll likely need to prepare to scrap it out on a difficult surface to maintain their three-match winning streak.
They’ll also be coming up against a Bonnyrigg side who have proven a tough, gritty challenge for all their opponents this year and will be looking to bolster their chances of making the finals. These two sides drew 5-5 in one of the games of the season at Lambert Park earlier in the campaign.
Wollongong Wolves v Hakoah Sydney City East, 5.00pm at WIN Stadium
Two of the premiership outsiders will come head to head on the South Coast this Saturday when Wollongong Wolves host Hakoah Sydney City East.
With both teams six and nine points off top spot respectively, a win is essential for either side to keep their faint hopes reeling in Sutherland Sharks alive.
The Wolves appear to greater chance to make that a possibility than their fifth-placed opponents. Wollongong edged Sutherland 3-2 last Sunday and have won four of their last five matches, keeping three clean sheets in the process.
Not only are Wollongong the league’s best defensive unit but boast one of the campaign’s outstanding performers in Tory Musumeci, whose brace against Sutherland raised his tally for the season to 11.
Although the Wolves will be considered narrow favourites before kick off, they won’t want to overlook at Hakoah side who have flown under the radar all season. A 1-0 win over Sydney Olympic last weekend brought a return to winning form for Hakoah, who have a six-point buffer over Manly United in sixth.
Sydney Olympic v Marconi Stallions, 5.30pm at Lambert Park
Marconi Stallions need to beat Sydney Olympic at Lambert Park on Saturday evening to keep their chances of a top five finish alive.
The Stallions appear to have turned a corner over the past month and are unbeaten in their last three matches, including a 1-1 draw with in-form Manly United last weekend. Although Marconi still have eight points to make up with six matches of the season remaining, they are a side who are entering their best form at the right time of the season.
The same cannot be said for Sydney Olympic unfortunately, who slumped to a ninth league defeat against Hakoah Sydney City East last Saturday. Since registering a shock 2-1 win over leaders Sutherland in round nine, the Blues have failed to turn their season around on that victory and have only picked up a two points since.
Olympic have also been held scoreless in their last three fixtures, giving opponents Marconi a great chance of continuing their good form unless they can muster a strong performance.
Sydney United 58 v Sutherland Sharks, 5.30pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58’s season hangs in the balance as the competition leaders Sutherland Sharks arrive at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday evening.
The Reds were hammered 7-0 by Sydney FC last Saturday, a result that could prove to be a huge blow to United 58’s chances of a finals finish. As a result of the heavy defeat, United 58 are now six points behind fifth-placed Hakoah Sydney City East, and they can barely afford for that gap to extend with another defeat to the Sharks at home.
United 58 will need to offer a big performance against the competition favourites and also be wary of a slightly wounded animal when the Sharks enter the fray in Edensor Park. A profligate Sutherland were edged 3-2 by Wollongong Wolves last weekend to cut their advantage over second-placed Sydney FC to just two points.
With Sydney hitting their stride and Blacktown City lingering not too far behind and with a game in hand, the competition leaders might be starting to feel the pressure for the first time this season – and a victory to ease concerns will be of paramount importance.
Manly United v Blacktown City, 1.00pm at Cromer Park
Blacktown City are looking to remain hot on the heels of the top two in their encounter with Manly United at Cromer Park this Sunday afternoon.
John Carnevale’s side notched two wins on the bounce after defeating APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2-1 last round, a result to moves the Seven Hills outfit within three points of Sutherland Sharks.
And with a game in hand against Bonnyrigg to come, Blacktown know they can’t afford to slip up against a Manly side who are beginning to come into their own at the back end of the campaign.
Manly are unbeaten in their last three fixtures and still need to make up a six point deficit on fifth-placed Hakoah Sydney City East if they are to play finals football this season.
-By Jacob Windon