PS4 NPL NSW Men's 2 - Round 8 Preview

Blacktown Spartans will host Bankstown City FC in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men's competition match of the round at Blacktown Football Park this Saturday.

And regardless of their respective positions on the table, both sides will be desperate for points in what is sure to be a fearsome battle.

In other matches, Central Coast Mariners will be hoping to avenge their shock loss to Macarthur Rams when they host Bankstown Berries; Northern Tigers entertain North Shore Mariners at their new home ground in Turramurra; Macarthur Rams welcome former coach Lee Sterrey back to Lynwood Park when they face Mounties Wanderers; Western Sydney visit St George after suffering a shock 2-1 defeat to Northern Tigers; Spirit FC host Marconi Stallions; and in the only Sunday match of the round, Hills Brumbies face Mt Druitt Town Rangers at Lilys Football Centre.   

Match of the Round

Blacktown Spartans vs Bankstown City, 7pm, Saturday 22 April, Blacktown Football Park

The match of the round between Blacktown Spartans and Bankstown City Lions at Blacktown Football Park on Saturday night will pit two former teammates against one another in coaches Luis Contigiani (Spartans) and Mile Todoroski (Lions).

The duo played together at Bankstown City back in the day and while their friendship will be put aside for 90 minutes on Saturday night, they both have a healthy respect for one another.  

"I've played with Mile (Todoroski), we were teammates at Bankstown City for many years," Contigiani told Football NSW. "Mile's a winner. He's a no nonsense (kind of) guy and I respect him tremendously as a person and as a coach. I learnt a lot off him when I was young. One thing I know about Mile is he doesn't give anything away. He fights for everything. I'm sure he's instilling that attitude into his players."  

When asked what he was expecting of the Lions, Contigiani replied: "They're like a wounded bull, they're going to come at us. They're at the bottom of the table and they're desperate. They'll go for broke. It's going to be a tough game.

"We've got to keep our game model, just be more consistent. Against Mt Druitt last week if we took all of our chances in the first half it would've been a flogging. Like 5-0. But I don't know what happened in the second half. Our shape was a bit too deep. But that's (due to) lack of experience.

"We're going to do what we do best against Bankstown. Our game model will not change and I'm confident that as tough as Bankstown will be, if we go out there and play our game I believe we can beat any team. This Saturday will answer a lot of questions. We've got a good record and so far we've done okay."

Meanwhile, Lions' coach Mile Todoroski acknowledged his friendship with Contigiani but said that while they'll shake hands before and after the game, their friendship will be forgotten during the 90 minutes of action.

"Luis is my friend, he was playing with me at Bankstown many, many years ago," Todoroski told Football NSW. "We will shake the hands but who (will) win, (will) win.

Despite their position on the table, Bankstown has shown a lot of improvement in the past three weeks. A draw against Mounties, a win over Spirit FC and an unlucky 1-0 loss to competition heavyweights Marconi last week should give them plenty of confidence going into the clash against the second-placed Spartans.

But as always, Todoroski refuses to get ahead of himself.

"Defensively we're starting to look good but football isn't just about defence," Todoroski said. "It's about defence and attack. You can't just defend and hope to win a game. We need to score goals. We're still on the bottom (of the table). But we'll try the best we can and we'll see (what happens)."

On the injury front, Blacktown will go into the match with a full squad to select from; while Todoroski said that given the small size of his squad, they won't be doing anything strenuous on the training paddock this week.

Central Coast Mariners vs Bankstown Berries, 6pm, Saturday 22 April, Pluim Park

Central Coast Mariners host Bankstown Berries at Pluim Park this Saturday and both sides will be looking to get their respective season's back on track after losses last weekend.

Central Coast were stunned 4-2 at Macarthur Rams on Saturday night, while the Berries lost 2-1 to St George.

Mariners coach Ben Cahn still can't believe his side lost to Macarthur.

"I thought we played exceptionally well against Macarthur," Cahn told Football NSW. "We were the only team that took a positive, proactive approach to the game. In terms of chances created I think they came in our half five times and scored four goals. It reflects on a serious problem of ours, our defending. But from a bigger picture point of view there were some exceptional individual performances from us against a very deep, negative team."

When asked what he expected of the Berries this weekend, Cahn replied: "I think they'll be similar to most mid-table NPL 2 teams really. They'll have three or four top players; some other experience around them and they'll work hard. They'll be fighting for their lives, they'll be difficult to beat, and they'll be a threat going forward. I think it'll be a pretty standard and consistent game like the last few we've played. I know if we get it right on the park, we can beat teams by three or four. But if we get it wrong, that can be reversed."    

Meanwhile, despite going down to St George last weekend, Berries player coach Perry Moustakas praised his side for their performance.

"I could probably say it was our best 90 minutes of the season to be honest," Moustakas told Football NSW. "We had chances in the first half but St George scored two quick goals late (in the half) to lead 2-0 at the break. The second half was all one way traffic, we completely dominated them. But it's like I've been saying all season, we didn't take our chances. We hit the post two or three times, we missed a one-on-one and a few other opportunities. We can't do much about it now. That's how football goes sometimes."

Moustakas also suggested that Central Coast will be desperate to make amends for their their shock defeat to Macarthur Rams.

"It won't be an easy game," he said. "The Mariners are a good young side and they'll be hoping to make the wrong right. Hopefully we can get the job done."

On the injury front, Central Coast are injury free but as of Tuesday, the availability of A-Leaguers Lachlan Wales and Steve Whyte was unknown. The Berries meanwhile, had a few niggly injuries due to the side's heavy schedule, but Moustakas was hopeful of having a full squad available for selection. 

Northern Tigers vs North Shore Mariners, 6.30pm, Saturday 22 April, North Turramurra Recreation Area

Northern Tigers host North Shore Mariners at North Turramurra Recreation Area on Saturday night, and they'll be hoping to celebrate their maiden game at their new home ground with a win against a side that hasn't lost in the past six weeks.

"The Mariners are going to be a physical team," Tigers coach Mark McCormick told Football NSW. "They're going to be really well organised. They've got good set pieces and they're going to be dangerous. They're the form team in the league. That's not easy to do so all credit to them. They've worked hard and (Mariner's coach) Joe Haywood's done well with them. We're going to have to be at our best to be able to take something from the game."

When asked how he expected to combat the Mariners' direct, physical style of football, McCormick replied: "Just like anything, you have to match it. That's part of the game of football. If there's anything that's over the top, then hopefully the referees protect us."

The Tigers produced the upset of the last round when they beat previously unbeaten league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 at Sydney United Sports Centre. But as satisfying as that win was, McCormick refused to get carried away.

"Obviously the guys are pretty confident after a win like that (over Western Sydney) but they know that they don't get anything for winning that game," the Scotsman said. "It's back to square one against the Mariners."

Meanwhile, North Shore coach Joe Haywood said he expected a lot from the Tigers, an attacking side that tries to play a good brand of football.

"They're an attacking team that tries to play," Haywood told Football NSW. "They can score, they've got a good defence and it'll be another competitive game for us. We'll just see how we go with our system."  

When asked for his thoughts on Saturday's one-all draw with Hills Brumbies, Haywood said it was "very frustrating and we should have beaten them comfortably".

"Not being disrespectful to Hills but they had one shot all game and scored (from it) in the 88th minute," Haywood continued. "We created three or four really good chances and they had a man sent off as well. It should've been a comfortable win for us. It (Hills equalising in the 88th minute) was a disappointing end to the day really." 

Macarthur Rams vs Mounties Wanderers, 7pm, Saturday 22 April, Lynwood Park

Former Macarthur Rams coach Lee Sterrey returns to his old stomping ground when on Saturday night his Mounties Wanderers side journeys to Lynwood Park to take on the Rams.  

Both sides had handsome victories last weekend - Macarthur upset Central Coast Mariners 4-2, while Mounties came from behind to thrash Spirit FC 5-2, so this game could very well be a goal-fest if both sides play to their potential.

When asked how he feels about facing his old club, Mounties coach Lee Sterrey replied: "It's no different to any other game really. I'm disappointed I only had a one year stint there. I think we had a good year in development and building things from within, culminating in a good win against (premiers) Sydney FC. There were lots of things I thought we were doing well there and building for the future, but they decided to go in a different direction. And that's fine, that's football. You know, one door closes and another one opens. And the one that opened at Mounties is a nice one."

Sterrey added that while Macarthur had a lot of early season injuries, he believed the side that beat Central Coast last weekend was close to the club's strongest.

"They'll be brimming with confidence after that win (against the Mariners), which sets it up for a decent game this weekend. Lynwood's always a hard place to go and play and it's always hard getting points there. That's something we prided ourselves on last year.

"But we're looking forward to the challenge and after a good win against solid opposition like Spirit, I expect us to go on with it from here for a few weeks. Certainly, confidence-wise, it was the shot we needed and hopefully we can have a bit of a spring in our step from this week on."

Meanwhile, Macarthur coach Eddie Briscoe said that while he didn't know too much about Mounties, anyone that could beat Spirit FC 5-2 had to be respected, especially in the front third.

"We've got to be wary of them as an attacking force," the Englishman said. "But from our point of view, we need to improve our ball possesion, that's our team goal this week. It's all going to be holding the ball and using the ball properly; finding the right space. We're going to try to capitalise on that sort of thing."  

St George vs Western Sydney Wanderers, 7pm, Saturday 22 April, Seymour Shaw Park

St George will host a Western Sydney Wanderers side keen to avenge last week's surprise 2-1 loss to Northern Tigers when the two clubs clash at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday night.

Saints are expecting to face the wrath of a team that until last week, was unbeaten and on top of the league. But with a few of the Wanderers' guns on A-League duty in Adelaide, perhaps the setback wasn't so surprising.

"I wish the Wanderers won that (game against Northern Tigers)," St George coach Terry Palapanis told Football NSW. "That loss will give them extra motivation to beat us. Obviously they're a good young side. They're mobile and energetic. They have some very good footballers. It'll be a very hard one for us."

Saints go into the match on the back of a solid 2-1 victory over Bankstown Berries and Palapanis will be looking for consistency when his side takes on the Wanderers.

"We've got a midweek FFA Cup match and I've heard our opponents are very physical, so we'll take particular care and we'll come up with a gameplan (for the Wanderers) by Thursday. Hopefully we'll execute and deliver to make it a contest."

When asked to name the Wanderers' strengths, Palapanis pinpointed their mobility, their movement off the ball and their decision making, before adding that his side will need to be at their best to compete with one of the competition favourites.

"They're good young footballers and we have to be on our game, especially on defence," Palapanis said. "We'll try to keep the ball as long as possible and try to move them around. I think other teams have fallen into the trap of respecting them too much; but if you don't take the initiative, they'll wear you out, shift you around and score goals against you."

Meanwhile, despite his side's defeat, Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan praised the Northern Tigers for their 2-1 victory over his young charges.

"The result tells the story," Morgan told Football NSW. "All credit to Tigers, they did a good job. Not often does a coach say an opponent's goal was a great goal. I'm going to say one of theirs was defendable as opposed to we didn't get pulled apart by a nine-pass Barcelona movement. But they scored two goals and defended their box extremely well. We were unable to get the win. Credit to them and their preparation; it was also a lesson for us on where we need to be better."

Morgan added that while he hasn't had a chance to see St George play this season, his side will continue to focus on their own form and preparation. 

"I think it's important for us to keep trying to improve," Morgan said. "I just find that every week is a very good test for us and we need to improve the areas (in which) the club expects us to do well in the style of football we play and we need to be prepared for what the other team brings. We'll just prepare and fix our own problems and try to improve our own style of play and hope the boys continue to improve."

Morgan revealed an interesting statistic from the clash against the Tigers which showed that while the Wanderers were inside the Tigers' box 28 times they only managed five shots on goal; whereas the Tigers were in the Wanderers' box 11 times for eight shots (on goal).

"That's definitely an area we must improve," Morgan said. "Their keeper didn't have to make many saves in that game and with the amount of time we spent in their box, we need to be better."    

Spirit FC vs Marconi Stallions, 7pm, Saturday 22 April, Valentine Sports Park

Spirit FC will be looking to address a two-game losing streak when they host Marconi Stallions at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday night.

Spirit last week copped a comprehensive 5-2 defeat to Mounties Wanderers, and the previous week suffered a shock 2-0 loss to bottom-placed Bankstown City Lions.

Spirit coach David Perkovic said his side started well against Mounties and led 1-0, only to concede two goals before halftime and a further three in a one-sided second half.

Looking ahead to the match against Marconi, Perkovic said he knew what to expect of the Stallions and his side needed to bring their A-game to compete. 

"Everybody knows the quality of Marconi and they have particular players in their team who can hurt you at any moment. So it'll be our job to not give those players an inch. We need to be very good and we need to work very hard for each other. If we go in with the right mentality than we'll have a chance to get something out of the game. There are things we need to improve on and hopefully this week we'll improve on enough to put in a good performance."

Meanwhile, Marconi's narrow 1-0 win over Bankstown City Lions may have put them back on top of the table, but the Stallions' inconsistency must be a concern for coach Tony Candy, who said he was happy his side kept a clean sheet and took home the three points.

In their last four games, the Stallions, who have been outright favourites to win the competition since Day 1, have drawn with Western Sydney; copped a 4-0 thrashing at North Shore Mariners; hammered Mt Druitt Town Rangers 5-1 and last week escaped with a 1-0 win over bottom-placed Bankstown City Lions.

While his star-studded lineup can virtually turn on the magic when it suits, consistency is probably the missing ingredient that Candy would love to see from his players.

Hills Brumbies vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers, 7.30pm, Sunday 23 April, Lilys Football Centre

Hills Brumbies and Mt Druitt Town Rangers will clash at Lilys Football Centre in the only Sunday match of the round and with a single point separating them in mid-table, both sides will be desperate to take home the spoils. 

The Brumbies last week played a physical draw against North Shore Mariners, with coach Dan Sheppard again having to see one of his players red carded for the second time in as many weeks.

"It was a frustrating day but at least we got something out of it," Sheppard told Football NSW. "It was very physical and very messy, a day we'd all rather forget."

Meanwhile, Mt Druitt Town Rangers shared the points with Blacktown Spartans last Saturday, a game that coach Aidan Desmond said his side should have won.

"They (Spartans) got a cheap goal and tried to counter-attack," Desmond told Football NSW. "We had a lot of possession and lots of chances but couldn't put them away. It was a game we probably should have won."

In their first season in PS4 NPL 2 NSW, Hills have showed that they have the players to be competitive, but coach Sheppard will be hoping to finish the game with a full complement of players; while Mt Druitt will be hoping to make the most of opportunities, an area in which they've struggled so far this season.

"We need to take our chances, that's been our Achilles heel this season," Desmond said. "We're creating enough opportunities but not finishing them."

-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter

PS4 NPL NSW Men's 2 - Round 7 Review

Northern Tigers produced the upset of the weekend when they defeated previously unbeaten league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 in Round 7 of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW Men's competition.

The Tigers have this season gone about their business with little fanfare but their place in the top four sees them well positioned as the 2017 campaign reaches a critical stage.

In other matches, a brilliant hat-trick by Mason Versi led Macarthur Rams to a surprise 4-2 victory over Central Coast Mariners in an entertaining match of the round; Marconi scraped home 1-0 over bottom-placed Bankstown City Lions; North Shore Mariners and Hills Brumbies shared the spoils in a feisty one-all draw at Northbridge; St George travelled to The Crest Athletic Centre and in a good old fashioned slog fest, beat the Bankstown Berries 2-1; while Mt Druitt Town Rangers and Blacktown Spartans drew one-all at Popondetta Park.

In the only Sunday fixture, Mounties finally found their goal-scoring touch to beat Spirit FC 5-2 in a come-from-behind thriller at Valentine Sports Park.

Match of the Round

Macarthur Rams 4 Central Coast Mariners 2, Lynwood Park

Macarthur Rams grabbed their second successive win of the season when they surprised Central Coast Mariners 4-2 in the PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men's match of the round at Lynwood Park on Saturday night. 

Mason Versi turned on the brilliance with a magnificent hat-trick, and caused the young Mariners plenty of grief with his skill and composure on the ball. Kurdvan Abduljabbar scored the other Rams goal, while Duncan Stewart and Yerasimakis Petratos scored one each for the Mariners.

Playing with their usual blend of skill, width and mobility, Central Coast dominated the early stages of the match. The first shot on target came in the second minute, when the Mariners' Reece Papas hit a rasping free kick from 25 yards. Rams' stand-in goalkeeper Ben Needham had trouble with the force of the shot and spilled the ball, but managed to recover just as the Mariners surged forward, hoping to tap home the rebound.

The Mariners were at it again in the 14th minute, when Steve Whyte tried his luck from long range; before Needham tipped over the bar another long-distance effort by Thomas Lyons.

With Central Coast playing with such verve and panache, a goal seemed inevitable and it took something special in the 16th minute to crack open the Macarthur defence. Some brilliant interplay between James Enticknap, Yerasimakis Petratos and Brenton Fox created a gilt-edged opportunity for striker Duncan Stewart, who tapped home the opener from close range.

Macarthur held back and absorbed the pressure, but just when it looked like Central Coast were cruising, Macarthur struck against the run of play when in the 25th minute Mason Versi bent a brilliant left-footed free kick past Mariners' keeper Adam Pearce to equalise.

The brilliant strike was Versi's appetizer, the main course would follow later. 

Such was the helter skelter nature of the game that Petratos restored the Mariners' lead in the 27th minute, slotting home from inside the box. 

Despite being 2-1 down, the Rams had their moments, with Frank Martey, Versi and central defender Matthew Trotter on song for the home side.

Macarthur's diligence paid off in the 33rd minute when Kurdvan Abduljabbar fired the equaliser past a despairing Mariners goalkeeper Adam Pearce.

After an entertaining first half, the two sides went to the break level at two-all. Macarthur were happy to still be in the hunt, while the Mariners were probably disappointed that they weren't able to convert a number of opportunities created.

The second half started in much the same way as the first half ended. Petratos turned his man brilliantly a few minutes into the second spell, only to be denied by a great save by Rams keeper Ben Needham.

Meanwhile, Mason Versi ramped up the heat and proved to be a menace to the young Mariners, holding possession and passing with composure and accuracy. And as Versi turned on his virtuoso performance, so too did his teammates' confidence grow. Their energy increased. Their physicality increased. Their focus intensified.

Even when Mariners livewire Peter Kekeris went off on a brilliant solo run just on the hour, bouncing his shot of the post, Macarthur simply rolled up their sleeves and redoubled their efforts.

A few minutes later that renewed focus paid dividends as Versi struck again. Causing panic in the Mariners' defence, the talented No. 15 controlled the ball with his head and ghosted past two defenders before unleashing a rasping shot past Pearce to give his side the lead for the first time.

Lynwood Park erupted and suddenly the unlikely appeared to be a possibility.

But the ding dong battle continued and no sooner had the home side gone ahead, two minutes later they lost focus on defence and conceded a penalty. Rams supporters groaned in disbelief as coach Eddie Briscoe lamented his side's immaturity. But in the end, it didn't matter as Needham pulled off a brilliant save to deny Mariners' forward Brenton Fox from grabbing the equaliser.

Needham's heroics were a game saver and not only did his save change the complexion of the game, it also reinforced the Rams' confidence and slapped the hapless Mariners stone cold across the face.

Versi took advantage and put the final nail in the coffin in the 65th minute when he launched himself into a superb acrobatic volley that gave Pearce no chance. Perfect technique. Perfect execution. The Lynwood Park faithful couldn't have asked for more.

Central Coast continued to press and went on an all-out offensive. But as hard as the young men tried, and as many opportunities as they created, they just couldn't convert the half-chances that came their way.

In the end, Macarthur secured a well-deserved victory; while the Mariners were again forced to ponder the unpredictable nature of developing young men in a league so competitive and relentless.

As expected, Macarthur Rams coach Eddie Briscoe was delighted with his side's performance.

"It was a great team effort," Briscoe told Football NSW. "Obviously Mason Versi took his chances and played a good game. I thought Damian Travis and Frank Martey were also really good; and the defence worked hard. It's hard to single out players after a performance like that, everyone did really well."

Briscoe added that his team has improved over the past seven weeks, with their understanding of tactics and structure becoming clearer.

"We're trying to play football and we're creating a few more chances and getting into positions to score. That's given us opportunities to get results."

Meanwhile, Central Coast assistant coach Will Vasquez was disappointed with his side's defensive lapses and inability to convert chances.

"I'm extremely disappointed in the way the game played out," Vasquez told Football NSW. "We created chances but at the end of the day you cannot defend like that. Conceding four goals we're not even going to be close. So (it was) very disappointing.

"They're just young boys and they're learning massively a very, very hard way. It's not easy for them to be losing these kind of games. There was still some good football. Some players did some really good things in attack but there were some big lessons for them (as well)."

Match Stats

Macarthur Rams 4 (Mason Versi 25', 62', 65'; Kurdvan Abduljabbar 33')

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Duncan Stewart 16', Yerasimakis Petratos 27')

Lynwood Park,

Saturday 15 April 2017

Referee: Roberto Mattei

Assistant Referees: Adam Weir, Matt Howarth

Macarthur Rams: 20. Ben Needham (GK), 2. Craig Cooley, 3. Danny Lazarevski, 4. Simon Valastro, 7. Frank Martey (13. Alex Lazarevski), 8. Matthew Trotter, 10. Ben Cornish, 11. Damien Travis, 14. Kurdvan Abduljabbar (16. Mitch Di Pietro), 15. Mason Versi, 17. Sho Arakawa.

Unused Subs: 1. Nikola Bratic, 5. Regan Suters, 19. Jordan Ward

Yellow Cards: Matthew Trotter, Mason Versi

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Adam Pearce, 2. Shelford Dais, 4. Reece Papas, 6. James Enticknap, 8. Thomas Lyons, 9. Brenton Fox (5. Charles William), 10. Duncan Stewart, 11. Peter Kekeris (25. Sallu Kamara), 14. Sean Pratt, 15. Yerasimakis Petratos, 17. Jordan Lane (16. Gianni Stensness), 18. Steve Whyte

Unused Subs: 20. Aidan Munford

Yellow Cards: Shelford Dais 25', Jordan Lane 35'

Coach: Ben Cahn

North Shore Mariners 1 Hills Brumbies 1, Northbridge Oval

North Shore Mariners and Hills Brumbies played a feisty and physical one-all draw at Northbridge Oval on Saturday night but for the second week in a row, the visitors had a man sent off, with Matthew Viera receiving his marching orders on the hour.

Tadg Purcell opened the scoring for the home side in the 37th minute and just when it looked like the Mariners had done enough to claim the spoils, Greg Giovenali popped up to equalise two minutes shy of fulltime.

After last week's one-all draw with Blacktown Spartans, Mariners coach Joe Haywood was disappointed that his young side allowed a win to slip through their fingers for the second time in six days.

But one consolation for the Englishman is the fact that his side has now gone six matches unbeaten; including a 4-0 thumping of competition heavyweights Marconi in Round 5.

Meanwhile, Hills coach Dan Sheppard was pleased his side took a point out of a road trip that is fast becoming one of the most challenging, not to mention, least desirable, in the league.

To compound matters, the red carding of Viera upset the visitors, who used their anger over the decision as extra motivation to chase an equaliser. Instead of a negative reaction, the Brumbies pushed hard and ultimately, managed to steal a point when Giovenali volleyed home in the 88th minute; his second goal in as many games.

"It was a frustrating day but at least we got something out of it," Sheppard said. "It was very physical and very messy, a day we'd all rather forget."   

Match Stats

North Shore Mariners 1 (Tadg Purcell 37')

Hills Brumbies 1 (Greg Giovenali 88')

Northbridge Oval,

Saturday 15 April 2017

North Shore Mariners: 1. James Law, 2. Lewis Miller, 3. Chris Lindsay, 4. James Scott, 6. Ricky Woodward, 8. Mitch Arcosa, 10. Brayden Cheng, 11. Freddy Ankumah-Sey, 13. Marquin Smith, 16. Chris Woo, 18. Mitch Smith, 20. Josh Mbakwe, 21. Aaron Davis, 23. Chris Desa, 26. Hugo Forlico, 27. Robbie Kerr, 28. Michael Stojanovski, 31. Chris Deblaere, 36. Stefan Giglio (GK)   

Yellow Cards: Chris Lindsay, M Smith

Coach: Joe Haywood

Hills Brumbies: 1. Josh Stancic, 3. Nicholas Pradenas Meza, 6. Bradley Robertson, 7. Wade Giovenali, 9. Sean Mitchell, 10. Jordan Parfait, 11. Daine Merrin (C), 14. V. Anyimba, 15. Matias Toro Suazo, 16. Greg Giovenali, 17. B. Hoyer, 19. Glenn Kelshaw, 24. Nathan Rayner, 34. J. Franich, 35. Michael Glenfield, 91. Peter Cejka.

Yellow Cards: Sean Mitchell, Matthew Viera, Nicholas Pradenas Meza, Nathan Rayner, Bradley Robertson

Red Cards: Matthew Viera

Coach: Dan Sheppard

Marconi Stallions 1

Bankstown City Lions 0, Marconi Stadium

Marko Jesic scored in the third minute to lead Marconi Stallions to a narrow 1-0 victory over bottom-placed Bankstown City Lions at Marconi Stadium on Saturday night, a result that sees the Stallions return to first place on the ladder.

Marconi last week bounced back from a goal down at halftime to humble Mt Druitt Town Rangers 5-1 but there were no signs of that second half edge against the Lions, who, despite the gulf in quality between the two sides, showed tremendous courage and character for the remaining 87 minutes.

"I am very pleased with the boys," Lions coach Mile Todoroski told Football NSW. "We fight hard and we play very well against a team that has more quality than us and that is better than us. But I don't think Marconi deserved to win, I think a draw would have been a more fair result."

Despite their precarious position in the league, Bankstown has in recent weeks showed that they're not easy beats. Last week they beat Spirit FC 2-0 and the week before they held Mounties Wanderers to a one-all draw. But this performance against top dogs Marconi, whose roster is far superior and far more experienced than any other squad in the league, was probably even better.

"We still have a long way to go," Todoroski added. "Marconi deserve to be on top of (the) league because they (have) got the results. I'm happy with (our) performance (against Marconi) but we deserve to be last because of our results. That's football."

Meanwhile, Marconi coach Tony Candy was happy to get the spoils but conceded that their goal might have come a bit too early.

"I'm happy we kept a clean sheet and to come away with the three points," Candy told Football NSW. "But we had chances to score more than one (goal) and didn't put them away. Our goal might have even come too early in the game, but credit to Bankstown, they played well and gave us a really hard game."

Match Stats

Marconi Stallions 1 (Marko Jesic 3') Bankstown City Lions 0

Marconi Stadium,

Saturday 15 April 2017

Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic, 4. Dhari Alsaad, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 6. Raimond Coletta, 7. Mirjan Pavlovic, 8. Sean Rooney, 10. Marko Jesic, 11. Sam Perre, 14. Peter Pelekanos, 18. Peter Triantis, 21. Kristian Sekutkoski, 22. Brandon Vella, 23. Christopher Nunes, 24. Richard Darko, 25. Sam Burfoot, 42. Fabian Monge

Yellow Card: Sam Perre

Coach: Tony Candy 

Bankstown City: S. Tarazona, 1. Dion Shaw (GK), 3. Alexander Becerra, 4. Billy Darwich, 5. Jeffrey Issa, 6. Aaron D'Mello, 7. Bruno Pivato, 8. David Mcmurray, 9. N. Todoroski, 11. Huseyin Jasli, 12. Steven Veleski, 14. Mate Lucic, 15. A. Tolomeo, 17. Adem Kir, 21. H. Timms (GK), 27. A. Gauci.

Yellow Cards: Aaron D'Mello, Jeffrey Issa, Dion Shaw 

Coach: Mile Todoroski

Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1

Blacktown Spartans 1, Popondetta Park

Mt Druitt Town Rangers and Blacktown Spartans shared the spoils in an intense one-all draw at Popondetta Park on Saturday night.

Gun striker Alex Boyadjian gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead right on the cusp of halftime; before David Mavisa equalised for the Rangers just shy of the hour mark.

"The Spartans sat and defended and they got a cheap goal and just tried to counter-attack," Mt Druitt coach Aidan Desmond told Football NSW. "It was a game we probably should have won. We had a lot of possession and a lot of chances but we just couldn't put them away. In the second half Spartans rarely had the ball. All credit to our boys, they worked really hard."

Desmond said his side turned on a good collective performance but he made special mention of the front four, including "Jamie Dib, who started in the unfamiliar position of Number 9, and goal-scorer David Mavisa.

"Spartans are organised," Desmond added. "They sit compact and they try to catch you on the counter. If you give them space to play they can hurt you. They don't create a lot, they're not a team that breaks you down. But they work hard, they're well organised and they run."

Meanwhile, Spartans coach Luis Contigiani said he thought his side was quite dominant, especially in the first half.

"We hit the crossbar and had some clear-cut chances but we couldn't put the game to bed," the Spartans coach told Football NSW. "I was very happy with our first half performance, we were able to stop their attack. We were able to create some very clear-cut chances. That was the first half. Then in the second half Mt Druitt got on top of us, especially towards the end when the game became open and end-to-end.

"To play a team like them away from home and to get a draw you've got to be happy. But I feel that early in the game if we'd put our chances away that game should've been ours.

"We're creating chances but we just don't have the composure to put them away. In defence we held strong and (apart from one goal) we were able to stop them.   

"I've got young boys and Mt Druitt have got some experienced players so to be able to hold them out and create so many problems for them is pleasing. We lack maturity and composure and experience good enough to put a game away but again these are boys who want to give 100 per cent. I'm very proud of them and we've just got to keep going forward."

Match Stats

Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1 (David Mavisa 59') Blacktown Spartans 1 (Alex Boyadjian 45')

Popondetta Park,

Saturday 15 April 2017

Mt Druitt Town Rangers: 1. Carlos Saliadarre (GK), 2. Hiten Satoh, 3. Brian Griffin-Colls, 5. David Mavisa, 6. Alexander Vlismas, 7. Luke Clifford, 8. Matthew Clowes, 9. Mitchell Mclintock, 10. Nathan Ralph, 12. Nicholas Trimble, 13. Darkoh Lord, 14. Daniel Mccann, 15. Andre Guzman, 16. Scott Goodwin, 18. Jamie Dib, 21. Joel Tinker, 23. Lachlan Roberts

Yellow Cards: Nicholas Trimble, Darkoh Lord

Coach: Aidan Desmond

Blacktown Spartans: 1. Domenic Nascimben (GK), 2. Daisan Kim, 3. Emmanuel Elali, 4. Tiano Boutoubia, 5. James Letta, 6. Mohamad Rahimi, 7. Michael Konestabo, 8. Aaron White, 9. Garang Awac, 10. Kojiro Hori, 11. Alex Boyadijan, 15. Andre Giolosa, 16. Alessandro Pecora, 20. Mitchell Cross, 23. Ogun Dullak, 42. Jacob Forster

Coach: Luis Contigiani

Western Sydney Wanderers 1 Northern Tigers 2,

Sydney United Sports Centre

Northern Tigers produced the upset of the round when they defeated previously unbeaten league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday night.

Jordan Smylie and Liam Mcconaghy gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead, while Cameron Devlin pulled one back for the Wanderers just before halftime.

Tigers' coach Mark McCormick said he was pleased with his side's discipline and praised his charges for taking the game to the Wanderers, instead of sitting back.

"They were fantastic from the first minute," McCormick said of his team. "We set out to play in a specific way and we had a go at them. Most teams sit back and drop off and we wanted to express ourselves and we did that last night."

McCormick was also happy with his side's courage, discipline and willingness to create chances.

"We took a 2-0 lead and hit the post twice," he said. "We were defensively disciplined in the second half and well organised. Technically the Wanderers are fantastic and they have some brilliant players that I'd pay money to watch, they're that good. They're the best team we've played by miles." 

When asked if there has been a secret to his side's success this season, the Tigers' mentor replied: "There's no secret. I think it's our attitude and effort, with effort being the key word. We're a really young squad, we know we're going to make mistakes. But it's our attitude towards making those mistakes that have made a difference. We've always known that we're a good team and we proved it last night. I told the boys before the game that 'you don't win a championship today and you don't get relegated today. Today's just an opportunity to go out and express yourself'."

Match Stats

Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Cameron Devlin)

Northern Tigers 2 (Jordan Smylie, Liam Mcconaghy)

Sydney United Sports Centre

Saturday 15 April 2017

Western Sydney Wanderers: 20. Daniel Axford (GK), 2. Lachlan Campbell, 4. Henry Davies, 5. M Cordier, 6. Cameron Devlin, 8. Charles Abou Serhal, 9. Kyle Cimenti, 10. Emmanuel Gonzalez, 16. Jerry Skotadis, 18. Oliver Puflett, 19. R Stewart, 22. Matthew Lecce, 23. O Wiggin, 24. T Russell, 40. Nick Suman (GK), 50. Tariq Maia

Coach: Trevor Morgan

Northern Tigers: 1. Harrison Devenish-Meares (GK), 2. Josh Ward, 3. Jamie Craig, 4. Michael Rolston, 6. Jordan Ferrier, 7. Joel Hardwick, 8. Max Glanville, 9. Liam Mcconaghy, 10. Lucas Dawson, 11. Lachlan Hughes, 13. Paul Turrin, 17. Kyohei Kimura, 18. Joshua Tanner, 19. Ryan Peterson, 20. Elliott Carwardine, 27. Karim Moursi.

Coach: Mark McCormick

Bankstown Berries 1 - St George 2

The Crest Athletic Centre

St George journeyed to The Crest Athletic Centre and came away with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Bankstown Berries on Saturday night.

Saints scored two late first half goals through Juan Carlos Romero and Daniel Mitwali to lead 2-0 at the break, while the Berries pulled one back through Vais in the 76th minute.

Saints' coach Terry Palapanis was delighted his side came away with the win.

"I'm thrilled we got three points to be honest," Palapanis told Football NSW. "It was a hard game, they're a decent side."

Palapanis added that the game was a tale of two halves, with Saints dominating the first 45 minutes and Berries controlling the second.

"We were just lucky to hang in there I suppose. I was a little bit disappointed in the second half because we let them come to us and we were a bit negative in our execution."

When asked what he thought of the Berries, Palapanis replied: "They're a good side. They're very well coached by Perry (Moustakas), who has been around the traps. They're very compact and hard to break down. They're extremely dangerous in set-pieces, which was a problem for us. They'll be very competitive in every match they play this year.

"I thought we pressed quite well and moved the ball quite well. It was just a good old fashioned slog. Nobody excelled and nobody was poor. The players just got stuck in and gave it their all. It was a contest right through." 

Meanwhile, the loss was Bankstown Berries' first in four outings, putting an end to player coach Perry Moustakas’ three-match unbeaten streak in the competition.

Match Stats

Bankstown Berries 1 (A. Vais) St George 2 (Juan Carlos Romero, Daniel Mitwali)

The Crest Athletic Centre,

Saturday 15 April 2017

Bankstown Berries: 1. Chad Taylor (GK), 2. Dominic Tripodi, 3. D. Di Ruocco, 5. J. Combes, 6. M. Farmer, 7. Kyle Ewart, 8. Domenic Hudap, 9. Gavin Forbes, 10. V. Giannini, 11. A. Vais, 12. Jake Bradshaw, 15. Perry Moustakas, 17. D. Fornito, 19. H. Tomohiro, 20. N. Mouzourakis, 21. J. Dimitrakas.

Yellow Cards: Kyle Ewart, Domenic Hudap, Dominic Tripodi

Red Cards: Domenic Hudap

Player Coach: Perry Moustakas

St George: 1. Andrew Depta (GK), 3. Ali Nasreddine, 4. Jonathan Kontalis, 5. Jayden Mcleod, 6. Zac Ribeiro, 7. Robbie Deasy, 8. Tarik Ercan (C), 9. Steven Ilic, 10. Nicholas Paras, 11. Orman Okunaiya, 14. Jacob Bandur, 16. Daniel Loe, 18. David Ilic, 19. Anthony Morabito, 20. Juan Carlos Heras Romero, 34. Daniel Mitwali, 38. M. Kotzambasis, 45. Anthony Barca.

Yellow Cards: Daniel Mitwali (84), Tarik Ercan (90+2), Daniel Loe (90+3)

Red Cards: Tarik Ercan (90+2) 

Coach: Terry Palapanis

Mounties Wanderers 5 Spirit FC 2, Valentine Sports Park

Mounties Wanderers came from behind to beat Spirit FC 5-2 in a high-scoring clash at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday.

Spirit opened the scoring after eight minutes but it was Mounties that led 2-1 at halftime before skipping away to a conclusive victory.

Mounties coach Lee Sterrey was thankful that his side finally found a way to score goals but he still lamented a few missed opportunities.

"To come from a goal down showed some character on our part," Sterrey told Football NSW. "We went on with it in the second half but we still had three one-on-ones that we missed. So we really could've torched them in front of goal.

"But overall the performance was good. Our quality of football was good, and we're getting there. We're still missing some chances but to finally score five in one game is very good. To get a result today was crucial because the pack at the top of the table will break away in the next two or three games, and I believe we're playing good enough football to be in the top four or top five. It's just a matter of converting opportunities."

When asked what impressed him the most about his side's performance, Sterrey replied: "The way we came back from one-nil down after eight minutes impressed me. Our usage of the football was good. We started to get in behind them, our pace of the pass was better, and we opened them up at times.

"Our front third started dominating pace a bit so I was pretty happy. We had the gilt-edged goal chances overall and a few of them. I thought we could dominate the second half if we just kept playing to our structures and we did. We played some good football and always looked like hurting them in transition. Had we taken our chances we could've really hurt them on the scoreboard."

Match Stats

Mounties Wanderers 5 (Reid Taylor, Noah Chianese, Hiroto Tokuichi, Michael Cklamovski, Michael Gaitatzis)

Spirit FC 2 (Andre Carle, D. Whitlock)

Mounties Wanderers: 1. Jair Fernandez, 4. Todd Halloran, 6. Anthony Schmidt, 7. Neftali Gonzalez, 9. Michael Gaitatzis, 11. Mitchell Davidson, 13. Pasqualino Cappuccio, 14. Noah Chianese, 15. Taewoo Jung, 18. Michael Cklamovski, 20. Reid Taylor, 21. Alexander Josipovic, 22. Mitchell Walker, 23. Abanoub Mickael, 28. Hiroto Tokuichi, 29. Jake Ingle, 33. Zac Zfiligoi

Yellow Cards: Jake Ingle, Hiroto Tokuichi

Coach: Lee Sterrey

Spirit FC: 1. Murray Nelson (GK), 3. Jack Musgrave, 4. Michael Streeter, 5. Andy Robertson, 6. A. Doyle, 7. Jake Harris, 8. Grant Cornwell (C), 9. Chris Godoy Bascur, 10. Christopher Gomez, 11. D. Whitlock, 12. Louis Bozanic, 14. Andre Carle, 15. Adrian Epifanino, 17. Yuya Samba, 18. Bradley Gibson, 19. T. Lovell, 21. Zoran Kolundzic, 22. D. Von Dinklage, 26. James Webb

Yellow Cards: Andre Carle, Adrian Epifanino

Coach: David Perkovic

-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter

PS4 NPL NSW Men's 2 - Round 7 Preview

Round 7 of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW Men's competition will get underway this weekend, with Macarthur Rams taking on Central Coast Mariners at Lynwood Park in the match of the round.

Although it's early days yet, this season's competition has so far been very competitive, with several teams currently in the mix to challenge for places in the big games at the end of the season.

In other matches, league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers host Northern Tigers at Edensor Park; North Shore Mariners entertain Hills Brumbies at Northbridge; Bankstown City Lions travel to Marconi; Mt Druitt Town Rangers host Blacktown Spartans at Popondetta Park; Bankstown Berries tackle St George at The Crest, while in the only Sunday game of the round, Mounties Wanderers and Spirit FC will clash at Valentine Sports Park.

Match of the Round

Macarthur Rams v Central Coast Mariners, Saturday 15 April, 7pm, Lynwood Park

Macarthur Rams will host Central Coast Mariners in the match of the round at Lynwood Park on Saturday night.

The Rams broke through for their maiden competition win last week with an upset 3-1 victory over St George; while the Mariners returned to the winners' circle with a 2-1 result over Mounties Wanderers.

After a difficult start to the season, Rams coach Eddie Briscoe was wondering when his side would finally win a game. Apart from earning a measly point from a possible 15 in the first five rounds of PS4 NPL 2, they stumbled against South Coast outfit Bulli United in the FFA Cup, leaving them as rank outsiders to beat the Saints a few days later at St George Stadium. But somehow they found a way. Somehow they did the unthinkable to grind out a 3-1 victory.

"The boys worked hard, they really did," a delighted Briscoe told Football NSW. "They really fought for the win in tough conditions. They grinded it out and that's all I can ask for. They did really well."

Central Coast will be a tough assignment for the Rams. The team is young. They're energetic and they possess the legs to run all day. They're structured and technical and they play a good brand of football.

So what does Briscoe make of the young Coasties?

"From what I've read they're a very good young team," Briscoe said. "I'm expecting a really, really tough game. It's going to be a big test for us."

Meanwhile, Mariners coach Ben Cahn was pleased with his side's come-from-behind 2-1 win over Mounties Wanderers in hot and steamy conditions last Sunday afternoon, but he's expecting a tough assignment at Macarthur.

"It's a notoriously tough place to go," Cahn said of Macarthur's Lynwood Park home. "We beat them twice last season but both games were incredibly difficult. I don't expect it to be any different this year."

On the injury front, Macarthur has lost George Codrea indefinitely due to work commitments, while a few players are carrying niggling injuries. The Mariners on the other hand, are injury free but at the time of writing, Cahn was unsure whether Lachlan Wales and Steve White would be involved in the Mariners' A-League clash against Melbourne Victory on Friday.  

North Shore Mariners vs Hills Brumbies, Saturday 15 April, 3pm, Northbridge Oval

North Shore Mariners will host Hills Brumbies at Northbridge Oval on Saturday afternoon.

In a clash between two sides who are equal fourth on the table, the Mariners will be seeking to get back to their winning ways after last Sunday's one-all draw against high-flying Blacktown Spartans. North Shore threw everything but the kitchen sink at the visitors, who were quite content to sit back and wait for the opportunity to counter-attack.

"I was disappointed we didn't get more out of the game (against Spartans)," Mariners coach Joe Haywood told Football NSW. "We created lots of opportunities and hit the post twice. We did well but could have come away with a win."

When asked what he expected of the Brumbies, Haywood replied: "I'm expecting them to be a good team to be honest. I know we played against them in state league a few years ago but I think it's going to be a competitive game. They're a good football team, they've got people who can play football in the middle of the park, and they've got people who can score goals. They're going to be a threat to us and we're expecting a good game." 

Meanwhile, despite going down 3-1 to Western Sydney Wanderers last Sunday night, Hills Brumbies coach Dan Sheppard was proud of his boys' effort and rued what might have been had Greg Giovenali not been dismissed from the field in the 46th minute. 

"We were a man down so to keep the scoreline to 3-1 and to prevent the Wanderers from scoring (their third goal) until relatively late, we've got to be happy with that," Sheppard told Football NSW.

When asked what he expected of the Mariners, Sheppard replied: "We've got a history of playing against them when they were Northbridge in state league. They were an extremely good football side who beat us more than we beat them. They've picked up some points recently so they're on a high. It's a matter of picking ourselves up (after the 3-1 loss to Western Sydney) and going again."

Marconi Stallions vs Bankstown City, Saturday 15 April, 7pm, Marconi Stadium

Premiership contenders Marconi Stallions will host bottom-placed Bankstown City Lions at Marconi Stadium on Saturday night.

In a tale of two halves, the Stallions last week returned to their winning ways with a come-from-behind 5-1 demolition of Mt Druitt Town Rangers. Rangers led 1-0 at the break but Marconi turned on the afterburners in the second spell to run away with the spoils.

Coach Tony Candy was very pleased with his side's second half performance and he wil be confident going into this weekend's clash against a Bankstown side, that, despite it's place on the league table, is beginning to show signs of improvement under new coach Mile Todoroski.

After a wretched start to the season, not to mention an off-field circus that made life at Jensen Park uncertain and confusing, Bankstown have in their last two matches drawn with Mounties Wanderers and beaten Spirit FC, suggesting that finally, things are turning for the better.

But despite their progress, Todoroski isn't getting ahead of himself.

"Speaking honestly we did not play the way I wanted to play (in the win against Spirit) but (at the) end of the day (the) result is here and (it) is very nice," Todoroski told Football NSW. "But we are still too far from the form, the shape which I want to see my team play."

Todoroski added that while his side beat Spirit, they played better in the draw with Mounties a fortnight ago.

"Week before when we drew (with Mounties) we played better than when we won (against Spirit). But I'm happy for the points. 

"Every game is tough for us. We are last and everyone is better than us and it's hard to move from this last position. We want to get respect from Marconi, respect from everyone and more important, respect for ourselves too."  

Mt Druitt Town Rangers vs Blacktown Spartans, Saturday 15 April, 7pm, Popondetta Park

Mt Druitt Town Rangers coach Aidan Desmond will be hoping his side can recover from last week's 5-1 thumping at Marconi when they host high flying Blacktown Spartans at Popondetta Park this Saturday.

Rangers played exceedingly well in the first half against the Stallions and led 1-0 at halftime. But while they dominated the first 45, they fell apart badly in the second, allowing a rampant Marconi to pump five goals past hapless goalkeeper Carlos Saliadarre.

Interestingly, Saliadarre will play against his old club this weekend, the custodian just one of an entire squad that departed Blacktown Football Park in the offseason.

Spartans last week visited Northbridge Oval and secured a point from a tough one-all draw against the in-form North Shore Mariners. Confronted by a side that continues to hone its aggressive, physical style of football, Spartans did well to hold off an outfit that only two week's ago humbled Marconi 4-0.

Both Mt Druitt and Blacktown will be keen to get full points this weekend. Mt Druitt are desperate to avoid a third successive defeat, while Spartans will want to maintain their place alongside premiership favourites Western Sydney and Marconi Stallions 

Spartans coach Luis Contigiani said he had a lot of respect for Mt Druitt, a side that has in recent weeks struggled for form.

"From what I've heard they're a very good team and they've got a lot of speed in wide areas," Contigiani told Football NSW. "I also believe they're very good at setpieces and I expect them to fight for everything. This is probably their hardest game to date."

Contigiani was impressed with his side's 1-1 result at Northbridge last Sunday but he'd still like his side to be more fluid in attack.

"I think we scrambled well and fought well in defence and kept our discipline against North Shore Mariners," he said. "In general play they couldn't hurt us. I was happy with the discipline and the defensive structure. It's just that our transition into attack wasn't as fluid as usual. If we can get some composure and confidence going forward we may be able to hurt Mt Druitt this Saturday."  

On the injury front, Mt Druitt's ace striker Kuag Reec remains sidelined and may not be available for the rest of the season, a serious blow to the club's ambitions for 2017; while for the Spartans, Contigiani said a couple of players needed to be monitored over the next few days.

Western Sydney Wanderers vs Northern Tigers, Saturday 15 April, 7pm, Sydney United Sports Centre

Western Sydney Wanderers host Northern Tigers on Saturday in what is an interesting matchup between the competition's most outstanding team and one that consistently performs without fuss week-in, week-out. 

The young Wanderers last week beat Hills Brumbies 3-1 to move to the top of the table, but given the number of opportunities they created in the front third, not to mention the fact that the Brumbies had a player dismissed in the 46th minute, the margin should have been far greater than two goals. To their credit, Hills showed tremendous courage under fire, but Western Sydney coach Trevor Morgan would have rued his side's inability to cash in on a multitude of chances.

The Tigers meanwhile, last week played a man short for much of their clash against Bankstown Berries, but were unlucky to concede a late goal that allowed the home side to escape with a fortuitous one-all draw.

Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan is wary of a Tigers side currently hovering inside the top four.

"We had tough matches against the Tigers last year, they're always very well prepared physically and they have a real sense of purpose about the way they play," Morgan told Football NSW. "They're very positive. So I expect them to try to match the tempo of the game with us."

Meanwhile, Northern Tigers coach Mark McCormick had nothing but praise for the young Wanderers.

"They're the best team in the competition. They're the best young players in the country so it's going to be a tough test," the Glaswegian told Football NSW. "That's the great part of football, we can test ourselves against the best players going around and that's what you want to do when you're playing the game. You want to go and test yourself against the best. I'm really looking forward to it."

When asked how his side intends to stop the competition leaders, McCormick replied: "We'll just do more of what we've been doing. We've been going okay lately and for us it's just about being confident and making sure that we get on the ball and try and be brave in the correct areas and just stick to our gameplan."

Both sides announced they were injury-free going into Saturday's encounter.

Bankstown Berries vs St George, Saturday 15 April, 7pm, The Crest Athletic Centre

A resurgent Bankstown Berries host St George at The Crest Athletic Centre on Saturday night, with Berries player coach Perry Moustakas adamant that his young side needs to step up if they're serious about achieving their full potential.

"We haven't played anywhere near our full potential but at the same time I've got to be really proud of the boys," Moustakas said after his side had last week stolen a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with Northern Tigers.

"To come from behind to get a point was a positive," Moustakas said. "But I put a lot of extra pressure on the boys because I think they have so much potential. I expect more and I'm always going to expect better. Good on them for showing character again but we've got to do better."

St George meanwhile, continued on their inconsistent way, suffering a shock 3-1 defeat to Macarthur Rams, and handing their opponents their maiden win of the season.

Coach Terry Palapanis has been disappointed with his team's inconsistency and while the season's still young, it's an area he needs to address if the Saints hope to make an impression.

The Crest is always a difficult challenge for visiting teams and there's no doubt this matchup will be uncompromising and physical.

Mounties Wanderers vs Spirit FC, Sunday 16 April, 3pm, Valentine Sports Park

Mounties Wanderers and Spirit FC will be hoping to get their respective seasons back on track when they clash at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday.

Mounties' inability to capitalise on opportunities again hampered them in their 2-1 defeat to Central Coast Mariners last weekend, while Spirit FC slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat to bottom-placed Bankstown City Lions.

"The Mariners game was even but the gilt-edged goal-scoring chances were all ours," Mounties coach Lee Sterrey told Football NSW. "You don't need 10 chances to win a match, you need to take the crucial ones that you get. It's just disappointing.

"Don't get me wrong, we played some good football but our execution at times could've been better. In my opinion we should have won the game."

Meanwhile, Spirit FC coach David Perkovic was also disappointed with his side's inability to convert opportunities in their shock defeat to Bankstown City.

"We had 16 shots and to get no reward for that is obviously not good enough," Perkovic said. "We also had 62 per cent possession as well, so the quality of our finishing in the front third was quite disappointing. It was one of those games I suppose."

Mounties and Spirit are level on seven points on the PS4 NPL 2 table, and even at this early stage of the season a win is essential for momentum as the all-important halfway point of the season looms large on the horizon.

-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter 

Blast From The Past

This week we look at a match programme from 1992, the first season that St George returned the State League football, after its NSL days.

 Football NSW put out a weekly magazine style program at the time, an excellent publication covering the state league scene. We take a look at the lineups across all the teams of the day, future coaches of the Saints amongst them. Nick Orlic, then at Canterbury Marrickville (now Bankstown Berries) who coached us in 2009 and 2010, taking the Saints to that year’s Grand Final, Paul Carter at Wollongong Macedonia (now Wollongong United) who coached us late 90s, and a certain number 6 at Eastern Suburbs, now at the helm.

 Amongst the Saints lineup, Vince Savoca went on to have a fine career at both state league and NSL level, before coaching the Saints in 2006, whilst on loan Jason Van Blerk would be playing for Australia against Argentina in a World Cup playoff just over a year later.

The cover features the Saints’s Andre Spnovic up against Craig Foster, then of Avala (now Bonnyrigg White Eagles), now of course, at SBS.

 

PS4 NPL NSW Men's 2 - Round 6 Review

In an interesting round of football, Western Sydney Wanderers are the new leaders of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW Men's competition after defeating Hills Brumbies 3-1 on Sunday night.

Blacktown Spartans and Marconi share second spot after a 5-1 win over Mt Druitt and one-all draw with North Shore Mariners respectively.

In other matches, Bankstown City Lions and Macarthur Rams caused the upsets of the round. The Lions gained their first win of the season with a 2-0 victory over Spirit FC, while the Rams also broke through for their maiden victory of 2017, with a 3-1 defeat of St George. Central Coast Mariners travelled to Valentine Sports Park and beat Mounties Wanderers 2-1, while Northern Tigers stole a point in a one-all draw at Bankstown Berries.

Match of the Round

Hills Brumbies v Western Sydney Wanderers

Western Sydney Wanderers have replaced Blacktown Spartans on top of the PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men's competition after a 3-1 victory over Hills Brumbies at Lilys Football Centre on Sunday night.

Keanu Baccus, Kosta Grozos and Matthew Lecce scored for the Wanderers, while Greg Giovenali pulled one back for the Brumbies.

The Wanderers dominated the early stages of the match with their slick passing, accuracy and mobility around the field, but their finishing didn't match the excellence of their creativity. Given the amount of possession and opportunities created, the Red and Black should have had a bagful of goals within the first quarter of an hour.

The Brumbies meanwhile, gradually played their way into the game and their first shot on goal arrived in the 11th minute when Nathan Rayner hit the target, only to see Wanderers goalkeeper Daniel Axford pull off a decent save.

In the 22nd minute Matias Toro Suazo went close, his rasping shot beating Axford, only to flash wide.

A minute later, the Wanderers opened the scoring when playmaker Keanu Baccus beat impressive Brumbies goalkeeper Joshua Stancic with a delightful shot from inside the box. The Wanderers then settled into a rhythm and while Hills enjoyed some good moments, it seemed like only a matter of time before Western Sydney would extend their lead.

But football being football, it turned out to be the Brumbies who scored next when Western Sydney conceded an unnecessary free kick a few metres outside the penalty area. Futsalroo skipper Greg Giovenali stepped up and unleashed a rasping shot into the back of the net to equalise on 36 minutes, a brilliant effort that caused the small crowd to celebrate with glee. The Brumbies' confidence rose and with that confidence, they enjoyed some excellent passages of play.

But less than 10 minutes later, Hills conceded a penalty, much to the dismay of the locals, and 16-year-old Kosta Grozos beat Stancic from the spot to put the Wanderers in front yet again.

Western Sydney led 2-1 at the break and given the run of the play and opportunities created, probably should have had a far greater advantage leading into the second half. 

With players on cautions, Brumbies coach Dan Sheppard warned his men at halftime to be cautious in the tackle and not to concede more cards. But the coach's words fell on deaf ears as goal-scoring ace Greg Giovenali turned from hero to villain when a mere minute into the second half he received a second yellow for a heavy tackle on Wanderers striker Abraham Majok. If the penalty late in the first half was a disappointment, Giovenali's sending off took the wind out of the Brumbies, who faced an uphill battle and were always going to struggle against a class outfit like the Wanderers with 10 men.

To their credit, Hills continued to play with courage and tenacity but the result was never in doubt as the Wanderers created one chance after another, slicing through the tiring Brumbies defence only to be denied by poor finishing and on occasion, some superb goalkeeping by Stancic.

Striker Matthew Lecce sealed the contest when in the 74th minute he fired a rocket past Stancic to give his side an unassailable 3-1 lead. Given the volume of chances they created, Western Sydney should have put the game to bed way before Lecce's goal, but credit to the Brumbies, who, despite having to toil with 10 men, showed tremendous character and intestinal fortitude throughout.

Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan was proud of his young side but conceded that given their opportunities, they probably should have put the game away a lot sooner than they did.

"Again another very testing challenge from our opponents who played with great passion and had some good passages in their play," Morgan told Football NSW. "They scored a great goal against us. From our point of view some of the things we're happy with include dealing better with physical challenges, creating many chances and if we were better with our finishing I think it's a game we should've finished off a bit earlier."

When asked to name his standouts, Morgan replied: "I wouldn't like to single any players out but some of the young boys promoted from the under 20s put in good performances and that's always good for them and shows we've got some depth coming through. A couple of players coming back from injury and starting to get more game time was also very pleasing to see. Overall, I think the players were actually disappointed after the game. The things I asked them to execute after halftime they didn't do with composure and left the game quite open, which is a lesson for us today. Again, we need to keep maturing, and they need to become smarter with their decision making."

Meanwhile, Brumbies coach Dan Sheppard was relatively pleased with his side's efforts, especially in the second half, but rued the missed opportunity caused by playing with a man short for the majority of the second 45.

"It's always difficult to take a loss but the Wanderers are a good side and if you give them time and space, they can pick you off," Sheppard told Football NSW.  

"Keeping the scoreline down considering we had ten men for so long was a great effort and a few individuals put in some good performances.

"Josh Stancic in goal was very good; Glenn Kelshaw was impressive, Matias Toro worked really hard as well. I think if the red card (to Giovenali) didn't happen we would have made a really interesting game of it."

Hills Brumbies 1 (Greg Giovenali 36')

Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Keanu Baccus 24', Kosta Grozos 44' Matthew Lecce 74')

Lilys Football Centre,

Sunday 9 April 2017

Hills Brumbies: 1. Josh Stancic, 3. Nicholas Pradenas Meza, 9. Sean Mitchell, 11. Daine Merrin (C), 12. Matthew Viera, 15. Matias Toro Suazo, 16 Greg Giovenali, 17. Brendan Hoyer (33. Benjamin Rodriguez), 19. Glenn Kelshaw, 24. Nathan Rayner (14. Victor Anyimba), 21. Nikolas Dimitriadis (35. Michael Glenfield)

Unused Subs: 45. Jacob Basden, 69. Alastair Bruce

Yellow Cards: Nikolas Dimitriadis 14', Sean Mitchell 36' , Greg Giovenali 44', 46', Daine Merrin 83'

Red Cards: Greg Giovenali 46'

Coach: Dan Sheppard

Western Sydney Wanderers: 20. Daniel Axford (GK), 42. Keanu Baccus, 26. Jackson Bandiera, 2. Lachlan Campbell, 4. Henry Davies, 11. Kosta Grozos (50. Tariq Maia), 22. Matthew Lecce, 49. Abraham Majok, 18. Oliver Puflett (9. Kyle Cimenti), 21. Mario Shabow, 16. Jerry Skotadis (6. Cameron Devlin)

Unused Subs: 40. Mackenzie Syron, 15. Blake Currey,

Yellow Cards: Mario Shabow 4', Lachlan Campbell 35', Jackson Bandiera 60'

Coach: Trevor Morgan

Marconi Stallions 5 Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1, Marconi Stadium

In a tale of two halves, Marconi Stallions got their premiership aspirations back on track with a stunning 5-1 victory over Mt Druitt Town Rangers at Marconi Stadium on Saturday night.

The Stallions sought to exorcise the demons of last week's 4-0 embarrassment at North Shore Mariners and while they ultimately achieved their objective, their intentions suffered an early setback when Mt Druitt's Alexander Vlismas gave the visitor's a 1-0 lead.

Surprisingly, Rangers went to the break 1-0 up but against a side laden with as much individual talent as the Stallions, a one-goal advantage just wasn't enough.

While the Rangers dominated the first half and held possession, they struggled to hold possession in the second half, with a few errant passes and mistakes creeping in and allowing the Stallions back into the game. Marconi took full advantage of the Rangers' indecision and with goals to Judah Cleur (2), Brandon Vella, Marko Jesic and Mohamed Adam, the Sky Blues raced away to steal the spoils of victory.

When asked what was said at halftime, Marconi coach Tony Candy told Football NSW that despite being a goal in arrears, there was no panic and the mood was very upbeat and positive in the dressing room.

"We were confident that it was just a matter of time before we scored a goal and got on top of them," Candy said. "We just needed to keep possession and move the ball around a lot quicker and play with more patience. We knew that opportunities would come." 

And come they did. Five goals, one after the other in a performance that not only put to rest the road bump at North Shore Mariners, but which also re-established the Stallions' credentials as a genuine premiership contender.

Meanwhile, Mt Druitt coach Aidan Desmond was disappointed with his side's second half performance but he didn't believe the four goal margin was a true indication of the game.

"It was a game of two halves," Desmond said. "We did well in the first half and it all went pear shaped in the second half. We couldn't hold possession (in the second half), sat a bit deeper and invited them back into the game. And once they got their tails up we couldn't pull it back and they were very hard to stop. I know what the scoreline says but I don't believe they were four goals better than us last night."

Marconi Stallions 5 (Judah Cleur, 2, Brandon Vella, Marko Jesic, Mohamed Adam) Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1 (Alexander Vlismas)

Marconi Stadium,

Saturday 8 April 2017

Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic, 4. Dhari Alsaad, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 6. Raimond Coletta, 7. Mirjan Pavlovic, 8. Sean Rooney, 10. Marko Jesic, 11. Sam Perre, 12. Judah Cleur, 14. Peter Pelekanos, 17. Theo Kofinas, 18. Peter Triantis, 19. Eros Bergamin, 21. Kristian Sekutkoski, 22. Brandon Vella, 23. Christopher Nunes, 24. Richard Darko, 25. Sam Burfoot, 26. Fabian Monge, 41. Adrian Valenti, 48. Mohamed Adam

Coach: Tony Candy

Mt Druitt Town Rangers: 1. Carlos Saliadarre (GK), 2. Hiten Satoh, 3. Brian Griffin-Colls, 5. David Mavisa, 6. Alexander Vlismas, 7. Luke Clifford, 8. Matthew Clowes, 9. Mitchell Mclintock, 10. Nathan Ralph, 12. Nicholas Trimble, 13. Darkoh Lord, 14. Daniel Mccann, 15. Andre Guzman, 16. Scott Goodwin, 18. Jamie Dib, 21. Joel Tinker, 23. Lachlan Roberts

Yellow Cards: Mitchell Mclintock

Coach: Aidan Desmond

Bankstown Berries 1 Northern Tigers 1, The Crest Athletic Centre

Bankstown Berries and Northern Tigers shared the spoils one-all in a vigorous battle at The Crest Athletic Centre on Saturday night.

After a scoreless first half, Tigers' Liam Mcconaghy gave his side the lead early in the second half before teammate Ryan Peterson received a red card for kicking the ball away, his second bookable offence. That incident changed the complexion of the game, but to their credit, the young Tigers showed plenty of spirit and character against a tenacious Berries outfit desperate to equalise.  

Bankstown pressed hard and veteran striker Gavin Forbes eventually struck gold in injury time to give the locals a share of the spoils.

"It was disappointing to end the game like that," Tigers' coach Mark McCormick told Football NSW. "But it was a learning opportunity for Ryan (Peterson), he's a young player and he's got a good future in the game. He apologised to his teammates for the amount of pressure that he put them under (after being sent off) but it was a good learning opportunity for him."

McCormick added that he knew the Berries would come out hard and fast but his side adapted to the tempo of the game and gained control for periods of time.

"We looked good after we took the lead but after the red card it became a battle," McCormick said. "The guys were fantastic and the courage and character they showed was incredible."  

Meanwhile, Berries player coach Perry Moustakas said he had mixed feelings about the game.

"We haven't played anywhere near our full potential but at the same time I've got to be really proud of the boys because for five weeks now we've been training on minimal facilities because grounds have been closed. It’s been really hard.  

"Everything's against us but we're getting results and there's a lot of potential in this team. Hopefully we can eventually get it right."

Moustakas added that while he was proud of his boys' efforts to come from behind to snatch a draw, he expects them to be better.

"To come from behind to get a point was a positive," Moustakas said. "But I put a lot of extra pressure on the boys because I think they have so much potential. I expect more and I'm always going to expect better. Good on them for showing character again but we've got to do better."

Bankstown Berries 1 (Gavin Forbes) Northern Tigers 1 (Liam Mcconaghy)

The Crest Athletic Centre,

Saturday 8 April 2017

Bankstown Berries: 1. Chad Taylor (GK), 2. Dominic Tripodi, 3. D. Di Ruocco, 5. J. Combes, 6. M. Farmer, 7. Kyle Ewart, 8. Domenic Hudap, 9. Gavin Forbes, 10. V. Giannini, 11. A. Vais, 12. Jake Bradshaw, 15. P. Moustakas, 17. D. Fornito, 19. H. Tomohiro, 20. N. Mouzourakis, 21. J. Dimitrakas.

Yellow Cards: Dominic Tripodi

Coach: Perry Moustakas          

Northern Tigers: 1. Harrison Devenish-Meares, 2. Josh Ward, 3. Jamie Craig, 4. Michael Rolston, 6. Jordan Ferrier, 7. Joel Hardwick, 8. Max Glanville, 9. Liam Mcconaghy, 10. Lucas Dawson, 11. Lachlan Hughes, 13. Paul Turrin, 17. Kyohei Kimura, 18. Joshua Tanner, 19. Ryan Peterson, 20. Elliott Carwardine, 27. Karim Moursi.

Yellow Cards: Lachlan Hughes, Ryan Peterson

Red Cards: Ryan Peterson

Coach: Mark McCormick

Spirit FC 0 Bankstown City Lions 2, Valentine Sports Park

Bankstown City Lions continued their mini-resurgence with an upset 2-0 victory over Spirit FC at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday night.

Vice-captain Huseyin Jasli and Nikola Todoroski scored for the Lions, who last week gathered their first points of the season with a one-all draw against Mounties Wanderers.

In the leadup to the game, Spirit coach David Perkovic said that despite the Lions' poor start to the season and their place at the bottom of the table, he expected them to be a dangerous opponent. 

"We have to be very wary," Perkovic told Football NSW. "I'll be making sure my players don't take Bankstown lightly. All teams win games at some point so we've got to make sure that we're geared up for what I believe will be a very competitive match."

Perkovic got more than he bargained for as the Lions shrugged aside a midweek FFA Cup setback against third tier Dunbar Rovers to cause one of the upsets of the round.

"Bankstown played with a lot of intent and were desperate for points," Perkovic said of the Lions. "And they showed that in their commitment with winning first and second balls and being very compact and defending very well.

"We had 16 shots and to get no reward for that is obviously not good enough. We also had 62 per cent possession as well, so the quality of our finishing in the front third was quite disappointing. It was one of those games I suppose."

Jasli scored from a free kick at the tail end of the first half and from that point, the Lions defended aggressively, while Todoroski secured the points with a second goal with around 10 minutes remaining.

When asked if there were any positives to come out of the game for his side, Perkovic replied: "No, there weren't many positives for us to be honest. We had more of the ball and the game was in our control but we just didn't make the most of it. We had 16 shots on goal but it's disappointing we weren't effective enough to capitalise on those opportunities."     

Meanwhile, under intense pressure to keep the proud old club away from the relegation zone, new Lions' coach Mile Todoroski continues to take things one game at a time and so far, with a win and a draw from their last two outings, the strategy is working well. 

"We are last team (and) you have to perform very well every single game to try to avoid the last position if you can," Todoroski told Football NSW. "It's not easy to be last, but we will try our best every week."

Spirit FC 0 Bankstown City Lions 2 (Huseyin Jasli, Nikola Todoroski)

Valentine Sports Park,

Saturday 8 April 2017

Spirit FC: 1. Murray Nelson (GK), 3. Jack Musgrave, 4. Michael Streeter, 5. Andy Robertson, 6. A. Doyle, 7. Jake Harris, 8. Grant Cornwell (C), 9. Chris Godoy Bascur, 10. Christopher Gomez, 11. D. Whitlock, 12. Louis Bozanic, 14. Andre Carle, 15. Adrian Epifanino, 17. Yuya Samba, 18. Bradley Gibson, 19. T. Lovell, 21. Zoran Kolundzic, 22. D. Von Dinklage, 26. James Webb

Yellow Cards: Grant Cornwell, Bradley Gibson, Andy Robertson, Yuya Samba

Coach: David Perkovic

Bankstown City: S. Tarazona, 1. Dion Shaw (GK), 3. Alexander Becerra, 4. Billy Darwich, 5. Jeffrey Issa, 6. Aaron D'Mello, 7. Bruno Pivato, 8. David Mcmurray, 9. Nikola Todoroski, 11. Huseyin Jasli, 12. Steven Veleski, 14. Mate Lucic, 15. A. Tolomeo, 17. Adem Kir, 21. H. Timms (GK), 27. A. Gauci.

Yellow Cards: Mate Lucic

Coach: Mile Todoroski

Mounties Wanderers 1 Central Coast Mariners 2, Valentine Sports Park

Central Coast Mariners grabbed their second win of the season when they came from behind to defeat Mounties Wanderers 2-1 at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday afternoon.

Neftali Gonzalez opened the scoring for Mounties in the 20th minute, while for the Mariners, Yerasimakis Petratos equalised just shy of the hour, before Brenton Fox grabbed the winner on 72 minutes.

"It was a difficult game, Mounties are a good side," Mariners coach Ben Cahn told Football NSW. "I respect (Mounties coach) Lee Sterrey as a coach, he's clever and his teams are always difficult to play against. But it was a gritty, determined win by us. 

"It was probably less aesthetically pleasing than some of our other games this season but we were more mature in how we managed the game; we managed the heat, we managed the opposition and it was a good, mature performance."

Meanwhile, Mounties coach Lee Sterrey was again left disappointed with his side's inability to capitalise on opportunities.

'We hit the front after 20 minutes and early in the second half our Japanese player Hiro had a one on one with their goalkeeper. He chipped the keeper but the ball was cleared off the line and onto the post. We couldn't score from the rebound and the chance went begging. The bottom line is that was a turning point for us. Two-nil 10 to 15 minutes into the second half and it's a different ball-game."

Mounties then gave the ball away at the back and Petratos took full advantage to level the scores. 

At 1-1, Mounties had an opportunity to regain the lead but with only the keeper to beat, Noah Chianese hit the post, causing even more frustration for Sterrey.

"Again that was a gilt-edged chance for us to go up 2-1 and still be dominant," Sterrey said. "The game was even but the gilt-edged goal-scoring chances were all ours. You don't need 10 chances to win a match, you need to take the crucial ones that you get. It's just disappointing."

Despite Sterrey's frustration, there were some positives to emerge from the match.

"We played some good football and it was great to have our Japanese boy Hiro return from a wrist operation. He's a sensational central midfield player. He keeps possession and he knows how to dispossess people, and reads the game very good. He's got pace, power, passing, he's a complete player. We played a 3-5-2 which worked a treat 90 per cent of the time but our execution at times could've been better and in my opinion we should have won the game."

For the Mariners Brenton Fox and Shelford Dais were outstanding in what was essentially a good collective team performance; while for Mounties, Hiro and Neftali Gonzalez showed some nice touches.

Mounties Wanderers 1 (Neftali Gonzalez 20') Central Coast Mariners 2 (Yerasimakis Petratos 58', Brenton Fox 78')

Valentine Sports Park,

Sunday 9 April 2017

Mounties Wanderers: 1. Jair Fernandez, 4. Todd Halloran, 6. Anthony Schmidt, 7. Neftali Gonzalez, 9. Michael Gaitatzis, 11. Mitchell Davidson, 13. Pasqualino Cappuccio, 14. Noah Chianese, 15. Taewoo Jung, 18. Michael Cklamovski, 20. Reid Taylor, 21. Alexander Josipovic, 22. Mitchell Walker, 23. Abanoub Mickael, 29. Jake Ingle, 33. Zac Zfiligoi.

Coach: Lee Sterrey

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Adam Pearce, 2. Shelford Dais, 5. Charles William, 6. James Enticknap, 7. Lachlan Wales, 8. Thomas Lyons, 9. Brenton Fox, 10. Duncan Stewart, 11. Peter Kekeris, 14. Sean Pratt, 15. Yerasimakis Petratos, 16. Gianni Stensness, 18. Steve Whyte, 19. Jordan Lane 

Yellow Cards: S. Dais, J. Enticknap, S. Kamara, J. Lane, S. Pratt

Coach: Ben Cahn

North Shore Mariners v Blacktown Spartans, Northbridge Oval, 3pm, Sunday 9 April

North Shore Mariners and Blacktown Spartans shared the spoils in a one-all draw at Northbridge Oval on Sunday afternoon.

Mohamed Rahimi opened the scoring for the Spartans after four minutes while Michael Stojanovski equalised for the Mariners just shy of the hour.  

The Mariners last week pulled off the upset of the season with a comprehensive 4-0 drubbing of competition favourites Marconi Stallions, and their subsequent tie with the Spartans proves that coach Joe Haywood's side will be a dangerous opponent for anyone.

In what was their first home match at Northbridge this season, North Shore played a direct and robust game in an attempt to unsettle the league leaders, who responded well to the home side's onslaught.

"I thought we controlled big parts of the game tonight but I was overall disappointed that we didn't get more out of the game," Haywood told Football NSW. "We created lots of opportunities and hit the post twice. Overall we did well but could have come away with a win."

So, what impressed Haywood about his side's performance?

"Today was about how we controlled the game of football," Haywood said. "It's the one thing we've been lacking and we actually did that at home for the first time. We controlled the game, the tempo of the game They tried to hit us on the counter attack, but our shape was good and our ball movement was good. We created a lot of chances but the quality wasn't quite right. Overall we're happy. We actually went down early after falling asleep from a free kick but eventually we got the goal that we deserved.   

"We're trying to take each game as it comes. I think we're just competitive, and we're going to cause teams problems whether it's through our football, our discipline or our structure, or whether it's set pieces. We're always going to be a threat, we're always going to be a danger. That's something I'm working on and will continue to do so.

"I wasn't sure what we'd get from the Spartans but I thought they'd come at us more than they did. They tried to sit back and see what we were going to do before hitting us on the counter attack. They're top of the table but they had their game plan and stuck to it and got a draw."

Meanwhile, Spartans coach Luis Contigiani was pleased with his side's effort and, despite losing top spot to Western Sydney Wanderers, was happy to return home with a point.

"It wasn't our best performance and we lost key players during the game in Emmanuel Elali and Michael Konestabo," Constigiani told Football NSW. "And because we were short on numbers we had to play a few players who had already played in the 20s, which is hard for them to double up.

"One thing that gave me pleasure was that the boys never stopped fighting. They gave 100 per cent. The Mariners are very hard to play against. They play very direct. They hustle and every they're dangerous at every set piece. Even their throw-ins are like corners. They send their tall timber up into the front third and bombard you with aerial balls from corners, free kicks and throw ins. And while we're not the tallest team, we stopped them. I was happy to come away with a point."

North Shore Mariners 1 (Michael Stijanovski 58') Blacktown Spartans 1 (Mohamed Rahimi 4')

Northbridge Oval,

Sunday 9 April 2017

North Shore Mariners: 1. James Law, 2. Lewis Miller, 3. Chris Lindsay, 4. James Scott, 6. Ricky Woodward, 8. Mitch Arcosa, 10. Brayden Cheng, 11. Freddy Ankumah-Sey, 13. Marquin Smith, 16. Chris Woo, 18. Mitch Smith, 20. Josh Mbakwe, 21. Aaron Davis, 23. Chris Desa, 26. Hugo Forlico, 27. Robbie Kerr, 28. Michael Stojanovski,

31. Chris Deblaere, 36. Stefan Giglio (GK)         

Yellow Cards: M Smith, M Stojanovski

Coach: Joe Haywood

Blacktown Spartans: 1. Domenic Nascimben, 2. Daisan Kim, 4. Tiano Boutoubia, 5. James Letta, 6. Mohamad Rahimi, 7. Michael Konestabo, 8. Aaron White, 9. Garang Awac, 10. Kojiro Hori, 11. Alex Boyadijan, 15. Andre Giolosa, 16. Alessandro Pecora, 20. Mitchell Cross, 23. Ogun Dullak, 42. Jacob Forster, Emmanuel Elali.

Yellow Cards: T Boutoubia, M Cross, E Elali

Coach: Luis Contigiani

St George v Macarthur Rams, St George Stadium

Macarthur Rams upset St George 3-1 at St George Stadium on Sunday night to finally breakthrough for their maiden win of the season.

Going into the game, it seemed that Macarthur couldn't take a trick. Winless in PS4 NPL 2, the Rams were on Wednesday night eliminated from the FFA Cup in a penalty shootout by South Coast outfit Bulli United, a setback that left coach Eddie Briscoe frustrated and despondent.

"It's difficult because the players can see what we're trying to do and what we're trying to achieve but when you haven't got that experience in the team and that leadership, it really affects the team and you can see that," Briscoe told Football NSW. "They just need some guidance and someone to look up to and that's where we're lacking. I can't fault the boys' effort and desire."

Without a win in the first five rounds of the competition, Briscoe said he really could have done with a win against Bulli just to give his side a boost in confidence. But that boost would come in an even more important fixture a few days later.

"We need a big boost and nothing less than a win (against St George) will do that," Briscoe said. "We need to win and we need to start putting some points on the board, and that's not just first grade but the whole club."

Somehow Briscoe's side did just that, sweeping aside a St George outfit that has had an inconsistent start to the season, one that has left coach Terry Palapanis scratching his head for answers.

"I'd like to see some consistency from the boys," Palapanis told Football NSW. "Not win one week and lose the next, which is what we've been doing."

Palapanis added that for some reason, St George have always struggled with Macarthur, a scenario he hoped to address over the weekend.

"I think Macarthur will come out with their backs to the wall and we'll have to be very careful that we're not the ones they beat first. We've got to be very wary of them."

Not wary enough for the Rams to break through for their maiden victory of 2017.

St George 1 Macarthur Rams 3

St George Stadium,

Sunday 9 April 2017

St George: 1. Andrew Depta (GK), 3. Ali Nasreddine, 4. Jonathan Kontalis, 5. Jayden Mcleod, 6. Zac Ribeiro, 7. Robbie Deasy, 8. Tarik Ercan (C), 9. Steven Ilic, 10. Nicholas Paras, 11. Orman Okunaiya, 14. Jacob Bandur, 16. Daniel Loe, 18. David Ilic, 19. Anthony Morabito, 20. Juan Carlos Heras Romero, 34. Daniel Mitwali, 38. M. Kotzambasis, 45. Anthony Barca.

Coach: Terry Palapanis

Macarthur Rams: 1. Nikodin Matic, 2. Craig Cooley, 3. Danny Lazarevski, 4. Simon Valastro, 5. Regan Suters, 7. Frank Martey, 8. Matthew Trotter, 10. Ben Cornish, 13. Ben Aguilar, 14. Kurdy Abduljabbar, 15. Mason Versi, 16. Mitch Di Pietro, 17. Sho Arakawa, 19. J. Ward, 20. B. Needham, 23. George Codrea.

Coach: Eddie Briscoe

-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter 

PS4 NPL NSW Men's 2 Round 6 Preview

Things are heating up in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW competition with some eye-catching matches coming up in Round 6 this weekend.

In Sunday's match of the round, newly-promoted Hills Brumbies host Western Sydney Wanderers; Marconi will be looking to bounce back from their shocking 4-0 thumping against North Shore Mariners when they host Mt Druitt Town Rangers; Bankstown Berries will be looking to extend their winning run to three games when they face a strong Northern Tigers at home; Spirit FC face struggling Bankstown City Lions; Mounties entertain the underperforming Central Coast Mariners, North Shore Mariners take on league leaders Blacktown Spartans in their first home game at Northbridge Oval; while St George host Macarthur Rams at Seymour Shaw.  

Match of the Round

Hills Brumbies v Western Sydney Wanderers, Lilys Football Centre, 7.30pm, Sunday 9 April

Hills Brumbies face their biggest test of the season when they host Western Sydney Wanderers in the PS4 NPL 2 NSW match of the round at Lilys Football Centre on Sunday night.

The Brumbies are coming off a disappointing defeat to Bankstown Berries and while the newly-promoted outfit had to field a depleted side due to serious injuries and player unavailability, coach Dan Sheppard had mixed feelings about the performance.

"I thought we were the better team in the first half but we seemed to drop off in the second half," Sheppard told Football NSW.

"But overall we were relatively good and it's not often that a team that has three shots on target wins 2-1."

Sheppard added that while his side missed the players who were unavailable for the Berries clash, the Brumbies hadn't been able to field the same starting eleven for two consecutive games, making life "very difficult".

So what does Sheppard expect of Western Sydney Wanderers?

"I'm expecting them to be pretty good to be honest. I expect them to be in the top two; they were there last year and they should be even better this year. This game is interesting and an exciting occasion and it's one of the reasons why I want to be in this division, to play against these sides. The Wanderers are favourites in most games they play, so they'll be a big challenge for us."

On the injury front, Sheppard said that two of the boys who were unavailable last week will be playing this weekend, but the majority are out injured and will spend another few weeks on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan said that while he didn't know too much about the Brumbies, he was expecting a tough game.

"They've obviously done very well, there's only a two-point difference between us and them," Morgan told Football NSW.

"But to be fair, I don't expect easy games any week. Everybody in this league are trying to do their very best. We present a different opponent to what they get mostly because the kids are a bit younger and they train in a fulltime environment. So I think every team aims to beat us and they try to come up with a game plan to do it. I expect nothing less from the Brumbies. I expect them to try and highlight their strengths and try and hurt us."  

When discussing the Spartans game, Morgan said that while the Wanderers dominated the game and had the statistics to prove it, he still wanted his players to challenge themselves game-by-game and to keep improving.

"I'd still like us to keep improving in small areas of our game," he said. 

"Some of those are team related things and some of those are individuals getting better. Collectively and individually I'd like improvement."

On the injury front, the Wanderers have a full squad to choose from, including Liam Youlley and Tariq Maia, who both missed selection last week due to illness and fatigue respectively.

Marconi Stallions v Mt Druitt Town Rangers, Marconi Stadium, 7pm, Saturday 8 April

Marconi will be looking to bounce back with a bang when they face Mt Druitt Town Rangers after suffering an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to North Shore Mariners last Saturday. 

Coach Tony Candy was very disappointed with his players' attitude in the shock loss.

"They didn't turn up on the day and they didn't compete. Simple as that. What can I say? It was just one of those days. The Mariners were a very robust side, very direct and they were very good at it and we didn't deal with it at all. We just didn't turn up and didn't compete."

Candy said that for the Mariners clash his side was missing four key players - Sean Rooney, Peter Triantis, Chris Nunes and Theo Kofinas - and struggled for depth to fill the void.

"We were a little bit skinny and some of the players who started like Sam Burfoot and Eros (Bergamin) haven't played for a while. Sam Perre hasn't played for a few games and they were a little bit short of game time. We can look for excuses but we need to regroup against a tough opponent in Mt Druitt. I'm very confident we'll turn things around on the weekend, that's for sure."

Meanwhile, Mt Druitt’s Aidan Desmond was disappointed with his side's 1-0 loss to Spirit FC in last Saturday's match of the round but he was ready to give the competition favourites a run for their money.

"Marconi will want to get back on track very, very quickly," Desmond told Football NSW.

"The expectation at that club is to win (games) and to win promotion and we expect to play a team that's up to that. They're the favourites to win the competition, but we'll go out there with an expectation to try and get something out of the game."

On the injury front, Desmond said that while there were a few niggles, and a number of his boys were battered and bruised after some heavy clashes against Spirit, he expected to have a full squad to select from.

Bankstown Berries v Northern Tigers, The Crest Athletic Centre, 7pm, Saturday 8 April

Bankstown Berries will hope to extend their unbeaten run to three matches when they host Northern Tigers at The Crest Athletic Centre on Saturday night.

In a game of two halves, player coach Perry Moustakas scored twice to lead the Berries to a 2-1 win over Hills Brumbies last weekend.

"In the first half Hills Brumbies were much better than us," Moustakas told Football NSW.

"We weren't really in the game but then the character of my boys came out in the second half and I'm proud of their efforts.

"Everyone really put in, including the subs. It's a lesson for us and showed what character is all about. It wasn't there in the first half but in the second half everyone put in an effort and that was the difference between the two sides."

When asked what he expected of Northern Tigers, Moustakas replied.

"I'm expecting another tough game. I've said this since the season started, it doesn't seem like we can find an easy game. Tigers have done well, they've got nine points. We've gone two-from-two now and if we get the next win then we're up there with the rest of the bunch and that's something we're going to be focusing on."

Moustakas stressed that his side will continue taking things "game-by-game" and not look beyond the next fixture.

"We're a new squad - there's about 13 new players - and we want to get better in each game. We just want to play better than our last game. That's our focus."

On the injury front, the Berries are looking good and depending on the outcome of their midweek Westfield FFA Cup game, should have a full complement of players to select from on the weekend.

Meanwhile, Northern Tigers last week travelled to Sydney's deep southwest and came away with a 3-0 victory over the struggling Macarthur Rams.

Tigers coach Mark McCormick was delighted with the win and praised his young team's determination.

"We showed a lot of grit," McCormick told Football NSW.

"Macarthur's never an easy place to visit. We are a young side and we knew that we had to go up there and match them in intensity and physicality as well as quality on the ball. We done that."

The Tigers will need to be just as gritty and just as committed when they face the Berries, who will also bring their own form of physicality and robustness to the table.

McCormick was impressed with the Berries' win over "a good Hills side".

"They're very strong from set pieces and The Crest isn't an easy place to go and get a result. I'm expecting a tough match.

"We just need to continue doing what we've been doing. We're a young side and we've had 16 and 17-year-olds come in and we need to make sure we're doing the basics well."

The Tigers coach added that apart from Josh Ward, who would be sidelined for the club's midweek FFA Cup match, his side was injury free going into the Berries game.

Spirit FC v Bankstown City Lions, Valentine Sports Park, 7pm, Saturday 8 April

Spirit FC will go into their clash with Bankstown City Lions confident of doing the damage after ending Mt Druitt's unbeaten start to the season with a 1-0 victory at Popondetta Park last Saturday night.

Spirit coach David Perkovic was happy with his side's performance and praised their efforts in the final third. 

"We definitely dominated early proceedings and were rewarded by a very nice goal to Chris Godoy," Perkovic told Football NSW.

"We definitely created more goalscoring opportunities than them. So I think our final third was probably a little more evident and that's probably what the difference was between the two teams. I think we deserved to win the game in the end."

When asked what he expected of Bankstown City Lions, Perkovic replied.

"I think it's going to be a danger game. Obviously they haven't had a good start but having said that, Mt Druitt last year lost their first four games of the season and still made the semis.

"We have to be very wary. I'll be making sure my players don't take Bankstown lightly. All teams win games at some point so we've got to make sure that we're geared up for what I believe will be a very competitive match."

Perkovic added he'd like his final third to convert more opportunities after creating plenty but not finishing.

"We created a lot of opportunities against Mt Druitt but it would've been nice to get more goals to reflect the chances that we created. I think we could've kept the ball a little better. There's a lot of room for improvement in that area." 

Due to Westfield FFA Cup commitments on Wednesday night, Perkovic said his side had a light recovery session on Monday as part of their preparation and he expected that whoever he chose in the starting eleven would put on a decent performance.

"There's a squad there for a reason," Perkovic said.

"And the starting eleven are there for a reason, they're there to do a job and I still expect a good performance." 

Meanwhile, Bankstown City Lions will be fighting an uphill battle with a small 15-man squad facing back-to-back matches over a three-day period.

Despite their off-field dramas and a new coach who has been in the hot-seat for little more than a fortnight, Bankstown City claimed their first point of the season with a gutsy one-all draw with Mounties Wanderers at Jensen Park on Saturday night.

The Lions suffered a 4-0 touch-up against Bankstown Berries just three days before facing Mounties and showed tremendous courage to rebound from that loss to snatch a point from a well-coached Mounties side with high expectations.

When asked what he expected of Spirit FC, Lions coach Mile Todoroski replied with a question of his own.

"When you are last what can you expect? You have to perform very well every single game to try to avoid the last position if you can. It's not easy to be last."

Bankstown City was due to play an Westfield FFA Cup match on Wednesday night and Todoroski wasn't happy about the timing.

"FFA Cup is good, (it's) good to build this competition," the Lions mentor told Football NSW. "But in the circumstances for us it is no good because I've only got a small squad of 15 players to choose from. But we've got no choice and we have to play."

Mounties Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners, Valentine Sports Park, 1pm, Sunday 9 April

Mounties will host Central Coast Mariners on Sunday afternoon and coach Lee Sterrey is hoping his side can start scoring goals.

"Our front third are just killing us," Sterrey said after Mounties were last week held to a one-all draw with bottom-placed Bankstown City Lions.

"There's a lot of good football content leading up to the front third but we just aren't finishing and we've got to take responsibility for that. It's disappointing."

Sterrey said his team would work on things in the front third this week but stressed that "we've been there enough times in recent weeks to nearly be undefeated thus far this season. We've played well enough not to have lost yet but we've got some strong teams coming up and we need to start finding the back of the net."

When asked what he expected of the Mariners, Sterrey replied.

"They're very dangerous. I think all the Hyundai A-League type sides should be in the top couple and I saw them as one of the better football sides last year. I know they've got plenty of talent and from what I've read, I think they've played well but like us, not finished teams off either. They've leaked a few goals and hopefully they can leak a couple this week. They're a side I would consider as a top four side because of their strength of stability and they've got quality youngsters coming through the club."

When asked if there were areas in which he'd like to see improvements in his own side, Sterrey replied.

"We're looking to improve as a side because we're a new side. We're trying to play a different style of football to what the team played last year. We'll have a spring in our step but Central Coast are going to be a very tough assignment."

Meanwhile, a fortnight ago Central Coast celebrated their first win of the season against Northern Tigers and a delighted Mariners coach Ben Cahn was looking for consecutive wins when his young side last week took on St George at Pluim Park.

But St George rose to the occasion and proved too strong the Mariners, condemning them to their fourth loss in five games.

So what happened?

"It's the unpredictable nature of playing with a youth team," Mariners coach Ben Cahn told Football NSW.

"And trying to perfect a certain style of play along the way we're going to be vulnerable to making certain mistakes. St George were good and I think they'll push for finals. But we played into their hands, we were quite predictable. It's trying to find that balance of learning while picking up results in PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men’s competition."  

Cahn added that while he knew Mounties were in a transitional period, he believed they were a decent team with some good individuals.

"But, having said that, like any team in this league, if we get it right we know we can beat them but we need to avoid the individual errors, the naivety that we've shown at times and we need to put in another resilient, mature performance like we did against Tigers."

On the injury front, the Mariners have a clean bill of health and a full squad to select from.

North Shore Mariners v Blacktown Spartans, Northbridge Oval, 3pm, Sunday 9 April

North Shore Mariners pulled off the upset of the season with a comprehensive 4-0 drubbing of competition favourites Marconi Stallions at Blacktown Football Park last Saturday night.

But now the club from Sydney's lower north shore needs to prepare just as diligently for their next assignment against league leaders Blacktown Spartans.

When asked how his side did the unthinkable, Mariners coach Joe Haywood replied.

"We just took our chances to be honest, that was the main thing. We've been creating chances all season but not taking them. We didn't necessarily control the game but whatever chances we got we took them.

"We've been working on our style since preseason and finally it all clicked (against Marconi) and we got what we deserved.

"This was a team performance, we had four different goalscorers on the night and everybody played their part, including the boys who came off the bench. They played their part and they played it well."

Haywood said the boys pulled up in high spirits after the Marconi game and were looking forward to their return to Northbridge Oval.

"We're looking forward to our first proper home game at Northbridge Oval," Haywood told Football NSW.

"It's a ground a lot of teams don't like coming to and we're looking forward to hosting Blacktown Spartans there. We're at full strength and ready to play."

Blacktown Spartans may have taken the fight to Western Sydney Wanderers in their 2-0 defeat last weekend, but they'd better be on their game when they face the giant killing Mariners this Sunday.

Any complacency will be punished and the Mariners have the additional advantage of returning to Northbridge Oval for the first time this season, a milestone the club is hoping to celebrate with a first grade win over the Spartans.

Spartans coach Luis Contigiani said that while he was disappointed to lose to Western Sydney, he wasn't disappointed with the way his team of brave young men lost.

"It was a great game," Contigiani told Football NSW.

"We knew they'd have a lot of possession, keeping the ball. We held our defensive shape and hit them on the counter, and to be quite honest we had some golden opportunities and even hit the post.

"I'm very proud of my boys, they put up a tremendous fight against a very good team. I give Western Sydney credit but in saying that I thought we offered them good resistance and we attacked them well when we knew we had to. But unfortunately, at the end, one lapse in concentration was all it took for them to punish us."

When asked what he expected of the North Shore Mariners, Contigiani replied.

"I expect a team similar to us. They fight very hard for everything, they're a solid unit that fights for each other and they're very dangerous at set-pieces, at free kicks and corners. They go in fully committed. We're going to have to be careful. You can play well for the majority of the game and then fall asleep at a set piece or a corner and pay the price." 

So how did the Spartans pull up after the Wanderers game?

"The boys were a little bit sore, they worked really hard in that game but we're ready for this weekend. Mentally we were disappointed that we lost because we put so much into the game but the fact that the performance was good, and we also had opportunities to win that game, has given us more belief and more hope that we can get back on our winning ways." 

St George v Macarthur Rams, St George Stadium, 5pm, Sunday 9 April

St George host struggling Macarthur Rams at Seymour Shaw on Sunday afternoon and they'll be brimming with confidence after overcoming Central Coast Mariners last weekend.

Although impressive in patches, Saints have had an inconsistent start to the season and one thing coach Terry Palapanis would like more than anything is to address that inconsistency.

"We were very good last week," Palapanis told Football NSW.

"But I'd like to see some consistency from the boys. Not win one week and lose the next, which is what we've been doing. The games against Northern Tigers and Spartans were quite poor."

Palapanis mentioned that for some reason, St Geogre have always struggled with Macarthur, a scenario he hopes to address this weekend.

"I think Macarthur will come out with their backs to the wall and we'll have to be very careful that we're not the ones they beat first. We've got to be very wary of them. But we'll be ready." 

Meanwhile, Macarthur coach Eddie Briscoe again rued the fact that his young side couldn't compete for the full 90 minutes after collapsing in a heap against Northern Tigers last weekend.

"We were the better team in the first half to be fair," Briscoe told Football NSW. "We both had chances but we had the better chances. But again, like previous weeks, we couldn't capitalise."

The young Rams switched off in the second half and could only watch on in dismay as the Tigers smashed three goals into the back of the net to score a 3-0 victory.

"Our heads went down and our confidence dropped," Briscoe said. "Theirs went up and then they caught us on the break and suddenly we were 2-0 down and before long, it was 3-0."

Macarthur will need to address their concentration issues against St George but with such an inexperienced team, it's going to be a tough assignment.   

"It's difficult because the players can see what we're trying to do and what we're trying to achieve but when you haven't got that experience in the team and that leadership, it really affects the team and you can see that. They just need some guidance and someone to look up to and that's where we're lacking. I can't fault the boys effort and desire."

Briscoe told Football NSW that his side was desperately in need of a win, just to get some points on the board and to boost the side's confidence.

"I think a win is the ultimate and to get some points on the board so we can believe in ourselves," Briscoe said.

"That's the ultimate. Besides last week and getting beat 3-0, we've been pretty close in our other games, we've hung in there. We need a big boost and nothing less than a win will do that. We need to win and we need to start putting some points on the board, and that's not just first grade but the whole club."

Briscoe added that he was looking forward to Wednesday's Westfield FFA Cup game against Bulli and saw the fixture as an opportunity to get a win to boost his side's confidence before taking on St George at the weekend.

"If we get a win in the Westfield FFA Cup game against Bulli, that will give us a massive boost for the St George game," Briscoe said.

On the injury front, Briscoe is expecting the return of Mason Versey and Frank Martey, but defender James Rolston will be missing after suffering a quad injury.

-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter 

PS4 NPL NSW Men's 2 Round 4 Preview

Marconi Stallions will host Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night in one of the most eagerly anticipated clashes of the season.

The competition heavyweights boast an abundance of quality players and both are in good form, and while it's still early days, victory in this clash will be significant.

In other matches, a resurgent Northern Tigers take on a struggling Central Coast Mariners; Blacktown Spartans host Bankstown Berries; Bankstown City face Mt Druitt Town Rangers; Mounties Wanderers host St George; Hills Brumbies tackle Macarthur Rams and North Shore Mariners travel to Spirit FC.

In what is shaping as an exciting round, three matches will be played on Sunday.

Match of the Round

Marconi Stallions vs Western Sydney Wanderers, Marconi Stadium, Saturday 25 March, 7pm

Marconi Stadium is the place to be this Saturday night as the Stallions host Western Sydney Wanderers in a blue-chip match of the round that many PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men’s aficionados are predicting to be a grand final preview.

The Stallions share the competition lead alongside Blacktown Spartans, just two points ahead of Western Sydney, but those numbers will mean nothing by 7pm on Saturday night.

Marconi probably turned on their most consistent performance of the season in last week's 3-1 victory over the Bankstown Berries, a welcome relief for coach Tony Candy who was disappointed with his side's performance against Macarthur a fortnight ago.

The Marconi mentor said that while he was delighted with the turnaround in form and the result, what pleased him most was his side's ability to control the game for the full 90 minutes. He also understands that this week's test will be a formidable one and last season's grand finalists will pose a significant challenge.

"Western Sydney will be a different proposition, a different game," Candy told Football NSW. "They've got a different playing style. They've got some talented players. It'll be a difficult game. But for us it's the most important game of the round. The game has obviously got some significance and it's very important that we get a good result."

Marconi has the most experienced side in the competition. They also have the biggest budget, and with the likes of former Socceroo Michael Beauchamp and ex-A-League stars Peter Triantis, Sean Rooney, Mirjan Pavlovic and Marko Jesic leading the charge, they'll be a formidable challenge for a young Western Sydney side still finding their way.

It might be early days yet but Western Sydney hasn't quite reached the heights of last season, when it was common for the red and black to demolish teams with equal doses of skill, mobility and guile. But most of all, they had the mental toughness to crush an opponent when holding a lead.

That hasn't quite happened this season, with last week's 4-3 escape over Spirit FC a classic example of not putting the foot to the throat when holding a significant advantage. The young Wanderers held a commanding 3-0 halftime lead but conceded two quick goals after the restart before eventually escaping with a 4-3 win.

Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan said that while he was disappointed with this aspect of his team's performance, he was happy with their ability to compete physically against more mature and experienced opposition.

"I'm happy that we're coping with the physical demands of the league," Morgan said. "But I do think that our concentration and certain tactical aspects of the game need to improve. Otherwise we would've won every game 5-0 and kept a clean sheet. For me, I'm happy that they're physically competing against the men but we need to be more correct in our actions in both boxes."

While the Stallions boast several quality players who have experienced the top flight, the young Wanderers also have their fair share of players who are on the cusp of moving onto bigger and better things. Eighteen-year-old Abraham Majok, Mario Shabow and Keanu Baccus have already tasted first team football, while several players train regularly with Tony Popovic's A-League squad, which will provide an edge when push comes to shove against the Stallions.

When asked how important the Marconi clash was to his side, Morgan replied: "We want to win on Saturday, we prepare to win every match. We know for sure Marconi's going to be tough and I assume that for them playing at home, they're going to be looking to win it. Sometimes teams play with caution and hope to get a result. But I think Marconi will be aggressive and it'll be a good test for us."

Fortunately, both sides are injury free and expect to have all players available for selection.

Northern Tigers FC vs Central Coast Mariners, Valentine Sports Park, Saturday 25 March, 1pm

Northern Tigers host Central Coast Mariners at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday afternoon and after a solid win against St George last weekend, Mark McCormick's side are primed to continue on their merry way.

The Tigers showed a lot of character to bounce back from a 1-0 deficit against the Saints, especially considering the side's youth and inexperience.

"We've only got two players over the age of 25, so we're a really young squad and we've got a lot to learn," McCormick told Football NSW. "But we're heading in the right direction."

With three consecutive defeats, Central Coast Mariners are struggling at the moment, but McCormick refuses to underestimate the talented academy side.

"I think they're going to be very good," he said. "They should've won the Brumbies game (last weekend) very comfortably. They were 4-2 up, hit the post and missed an open goal.

"Technically they're good and they're a young team as well. They try to keep the ball down and play in the right way and they're well coached. Their lowly position on the table isn't a true indication of how good they are."

Meanwhile, the Mariners last Saturday returned to Gosford after a demoralising 5-4 defeat away to Hills Brumbies, a setback that stung the young Coasters after they let a commanding 4-2 lead slip in the last 20 minutes.

"They're pretty despondent," Mariners coach Ben Cahn said of his young charges. "Sunday was also our worst performance of the season. It was very frustrating again. We had a two-goal lead and felt that we were significantly better than the opposition, but again got caught with a lack of maturity and lack of experience. The result was crazy in the end."

The Mariners are equal last on the table but despite their lowly position and the fact they've conceded 11 goals, they've actually played some scintillating football along the way. But only in patches.

"We need to improve defensively," Cahn said. "We've conceded 11 goals in three games, it's not acceptable. But in the first two games and even in patches against Hills, we played some really, really good football. The boys are playing football that I know (first team coach) Paul Okon would be happy with. Now they need to mature, but such are the harsh realities of senior football."

On the injury front, Tigers' Kyohei Kimura will miss a couple of months after tearing his MCL against St George last weekend, while Ollie Stickland and Ally Brown remain on the sidelines with long term injuries. The Mariners meanwhile, have a full squad available for selection.

Blacktown Spartans vs Bankstown Berries, Blacktown Football Park, Saturday 25 March, 7pm

Blacktown Spartans will be looking to continue on their winning way when they host Bankstown Berries at Blacktown Football Park on Saturday night. The unlikely league leaders again pulled off a last-gasp escape when they beat Macarthur 3-2 at the death last weekend.

So far the Spartans have been on a fairytale run of epic proportions. A young team. A minimal budget. And in Luis Contigiani, a coach dedicated to developing local talent to their full potential, making for an inspirational story.   

"They're feeling great," Contigiani said of his young charges. "They're winning and winning gives players confidence and momentum."

Despite his side's remarkable start to the season, Contigiani refuses to look too far ahead and believes his side needs to improve in two important areas - defensively and in the final third.

"We need to be more ruthless in front of goal," Contigiani told Football NSW. "In the first 15 minutes of last week's game we had several clear-cut chances and should've been ahead by more than two goals. We lack that conviction but we still scored so we can only get better."

Defensively, the Spartans mentor was exasperated when a Macarthur player dribbled past four of his players before being floored inside the penalty box.

"One player dribbling past four of my defenders (last week), I can't accept that," he said. "We really need to tighten up at the back. It was unacceptable."

Meanwhile, while the Spartans may sit in the NPL2 penthouse, the Berries are firmly entrenched near the basement. But despite their poor start to the season, Costigiani is expecting to engage a team desperate to win.

"They're going to come out and give us everything they've got," he said. "They haven't won a game and a team that's wounded will always come out fighting. I expect a very tough game and I expect them to force the issue early. We've just got to keep doing what we've been doing and I'm confident that we'll be ready for whatever they throw at us."

Bankstown Berries may not be where they want to be at the moment, but player coach Perry Moustakas was proud of his side's effort against star-studded Marconi last weekend.   

"We've got a new team so there have been a lot of changes," Moustakas told Football NSW. "So to gel as a team will take time. The team spirit's been there, they're training well, and they took it to Marconi the other day. And let's be fair, Marconi have a strong budget, they have a strong team, they have very experienced players. But I felt like we made it tough for them so I'm happy with that.

"But we need improvement all over the park, we're nowhere near a finished product. Week by week we're getting better but football results are important and we need to start getting results now."

When asked what he expected of the Spartans, Moustakas replied: "Spartans have had a great start, they're three from three, they've got a great field there so they're obviously on a high. But we're definitely not down. It'll be another tough game."

Richard Blanco remains the Spartans' only injury concern, while Berries striker Gavin Forbes was due to start training this week.

Bankstown City Lions vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers, Jensen Park, Saturday 25 March, 7pm

Bankstown City Lions will be desperate to turn their season around after a heavy 4-1 defeat to North Shore Mariners last Saturday. New coach Mile Todorovski, who stepped into the hot seat following the shock departure of John Caruana on the eve of the Mariners game, will have little time to get up to speed with a new-look squad that has struggled in its opening two matches.

Despite the dramas at Jensen Park, Mt Druitt Town Rangers' coach Aidan Desmond is certain the Lions will be fired up and desperate to impress their new coach.

"I expect them to have renewed vigour with Mile (Todorovski) coming in," Desmond told Football NSW. "Obviously things didn't go so well for them against North Shore Mariners but Mile will have had some time to get his hands on them and prepare them. You know you're going to be in for a physical contest when you play Mile's teams."

Mt Druitt has drawn both of their matches this season, while last week's clash against Mounties was washed out due to Sydney's inclement weather.

In their two matches to date, Desmond has been impressed with his side's commitment to the cause and hopes that selfless attitude will get them across the line at Jensen Park.

"They turn up week in, week out for training and games," Desmond said. "They're committed to whatever we're doing. You can't fault it. But we need to improve our execution. We need to take our opportunities. Hopefully that'll get us home against Bankstown."

On the injury front, things are improving at Popondetta Park, with a number of players, including ace striker Kuag Reec and midfielder Nathan Ralph scheduled to undergo fitness tests on Tuesday. "Our players are pulling up," Desmond said, "we're having some fitness tests tonight and hopefully we'll be close to or 90 per cent full strength this weekend."

Mounties Wanderers vs St George, Valentine Sports Park, Sunday 26 March, 1pm

Mounties Wanderers host St George at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday afternoon with both teams hoping to get their seasons back on track after a weekend that included a wash-out and defeat respectively.

Wanderers coach Lee Sterrey is hopeful that his forwards can improve on their last hitout, a 2-1 defeat to Northern Tigers in Round 2, when several clearcut goalscoring opportunities were wasted.

"We need to get more clinical in the front third," Sterrey said. "Our forwards need to execute when the chances arise."

Sterrey added that the Wanderers won't be underestimating St George, especially when last season as coach at Macarthur Rams, he failed in two matches against the red and white.

"Last year with the Rams I couldn't beat them, they beat us twice 1-0 and we had the better of the games and didn't take our chances," Sterrey said. "They're a team that keeps going; they keep fighting till the end. Underestimate St George at your own peril. We won't be taking them lightly, we'll treat them with respect but it's a game where we've got to come out full guns blazing."  

Meanwhile, St George will be desperate to exorcise the demons of last weekend's poor performance against Northern Tigers, a match they let slip after taking an early lead.

"There weren't many positives to come out of that game, to be honest," said St George coach Terry Palapanis. "We weren't good. I thought it was quite a poor performance, our players are a lot better than they showed. It's back to square one, back to basics, starting at training tonight."

Palapanis added that his side needed to improve all over the park.

"We need to improve in retaining possession; having our passes stick; combinations, rotations, the lot. I was very disappointed in our performance. It was flat. I think Mounties will be hard. They'll be tough and we're not in any form at all. We need to be at our best to even have a chance."

On the injury front, Palapanis was hoping to have injured captain Tarik Ercan, Rino Zinari and Tom Menton available for selection.

Hills Brumbies vs Macarthur Rams, Lilys Football Centre, Sunday 26 March, 6.30pm

Newly-promoted Hills Brumbies will be aiming to win consecutive games when they host Macarthur Rams at Lilys Football Centre on Sunday.

On a high from Sunday's spectacular last-gasp victory over Central Coast Mariners, the Brumbies have been basking in the aftermath of their stunning 5-4 win.

"The boys were over the moon with the win," Hills coach Dan Sheppard told Football NSW. "They were rapt, especially with the way they came back from 4-2 down. I don't think too many people would've expected us to come back the way we did."

Although it's early days, the Brumbies have impressed in their first season in the PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men's, and with a return of two wins from three outings, they're in a good place and have the desire to continue their rise as a force to be reckoned with.

"We're doing well but we're still the newcomers in the competition, we've still got a lot to learn," Sheppard said. "I guess we're just happy we're getting results and we just want to make it last as long as we can.

"But having said that, we definitely need to tighten up our defending. Regardless of the (5-4) win (against Central Coast), you can't be happy when you concede four goals. And it could've been more. I think Central Coast can be aggrieved that they didn't score more, they had enough opportunities to do so."   

When asked what he expected of Macarthur, Sheppard replied: "I'm expecting them to be tough. Their results are probably not truly reflective of how good they actually are. We have to heavily respect them because they've been a PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men's side for a number of years and we're almost envious of them because that's where we want to be. We want to be the team that's got our own synthetic field, we want to be the team that's been in PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men's for a number of years and been able to build on that, and be stable.

"Every game is going to be a tough game for us. Everyone is going to look at us and think we're just on a bit of a wave at the moment and we're the new boys who need to be showed a lesson or two. So we'll just do the best we can and hopefully pick up some more points."

Meanwhile, Macarthur coach Eddie Briscoe said he was expecting a tough game at Lilys Football Centre.

"We played them in preseason and they were very quick, high pressing, with lots of movement up front," Briscoe told Football NSW. "They were also very physical, well organised and they seem to be well coached. So it's going to be a really tough game up there."

With a big cleanout during the offseason, Macarthur has been plagued by injuries, forcing Briscoe to keep a small squad, including a few players from the youth team.

"We've been under the pump with player numbers due to suspensions and injuries," Briscoe said. "We've been going into games quite short of manpower. Despite that, I've been impressed with their tenacity and desire to play. Given the circumstances, the commitment to the game plan and what we're trying to achieve has been fantastic."

One part of their game Macarthur will need to tighten up is their defence at set plays, an area in which they've had some grief.

"We tend to switch off defensively at set plays so I'd like to see improvement there," Briscoe said. "And with the chances we create, we need a bit more urgency in the 18-yard box. There has been a big turnover of players since last season and we lost our main striker, Elsid Barkhousir. And as I said, there have been a few injuries and suspensions which has set us back a bit. We've only got a small squad and we've had to put the youth players in at the deep end quite quickly."

Spirit FC vs North Shore Mariners, Valentine Sports Park, Sunday 26 March, 7pm

Spirit FC will host North Shore Mariners at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday evening in what should be a wiling battle between teams that are currently placed fourth-equal on the table. The home side competed bravely against Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend, trailing 3-0 at halftime before clawing their way back into the contest. The fact the Wanderers escaped with a 4-3 victory didn't take away the positive vibe that swept around the Spirit dressing room; while the Mariners enjoyed a comprehensive 4-1 win over Bankstown City Lions.

"We learnt a lot from the game and the boys came off the pitch pretty positive from the second half," Spirit coach David Perkovic told Football NSW. "They got a bit of belief from that display and we'll carry that throughout the week as we prepare for our next game."

For some reason Spirit has fallen behind in each of their three matches this season, only to finish strongly, a fact that has impressed coach David Perkovic. "Despite going behind first we've got results in two of those games: a draw and a victory," Perkovic told Football NSW. "Obviously last week's game against the Wanderers we were down 3-0 and while it would've been easy to drop our heads and go down 4-0 or 5-0, we showed good character to actually come back, which has impressed me so far."

When asked what he expected of the Mariners this Sunday, the Spirit coach replied: "I think they're going to be tough opponent. Last year was their first in the league and they had the relegation battle towards the end of the season; so I think they'll be looking to avoid that as early as possible. They learnt a lot from last season and I think they'll be better prepared this time around. Their win over Bankstown last weekend will have put them in a positive frame of mind and they'll take that into the game against us. We'll have a task on the weekend."

Perkovic added that he hoped his side would score first, which would be "a significant improvement".

"This early in the season you don't want to fall too far behind," he said. "You still want to continue learning about your own team and what they're capable of and hope that will continue going forward. But you don't want to drop too many points at the start of the season. We're at home this weekend and we want to take maximum points."

On the injury front, star striker Christopher Gomez remains sidelined, while midfielder Alexander Doyle joins him on the injured list. Grant Cornwell is getting married on Friday and is unavailable. Tim Porter and Brad Gibson are available for selection.

Meanwhile, despite their big win over Bankstown City last weekend, the Mariners aren't getting too far ahead of themselves so early in the season.

"The boys were subdued after the win over Bankstown because we're only three games into the season," Mariners coach Joe Haywood told Football NSW. "They're just working hard and trying to stay focused."

Haywood revealed that his side are hoping to work better with the ball, an area in which they've improved but now want to see some consistency.

"We were good with that last week and we've improved but now we want to try to get some consistency into our game so we can try and keep developing our style of play.

"We've got so many new players but I've been impressed with the spirit within the group. We lost one and drew one in the first two rounds but the group stuck together and now we've got a win under our belts and are ready to move forward this week."

Haywood anticipates a stern contest against Spirit, a side he describes as a "strong unit".

"They're a good, well-established PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men's team that know what they're doing both on the field and off the field. They're going to be tough."

The Mariners have no injury concerns and will welcome Dominic Maunder and Michael Stojanovski back from suspension.

Source FNSW Website- By Derek Royal, Football NSW

PS4 NPL NSW Men's 2 Round 3 Review

Blacktown Spartans and Marconi Stallions remain on top of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s table, after respective victories over Macarthur Rams and Bankstown Berries on Saturday night.

North Shore Mariners joined the winners' circle for the first time with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Bankstown City Lions, courtesy in no small part of a hat-trick by sharpshooter Mitch Smith; while Western Sydney Wanderers edged out a courageous Spirit FC 4-3. Meanwhile, in the match of the round, Northern Tigers journeyed to Seymour Shaw Park to face St George, returning home with a 3-1 victory; while, in the only Sunday match of the round, Hills Brumbies stunned Central Coast Mariners 5-4 in a thriller at Lilys Football Centre.

The match between Mt Druitt Town Rangers and Mounties Wanderers was washed out.

St George 1 Northern Tigers 3, Seymour Shaw Park

St George and Northern Tigers clashed in the match of the round at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday night and in a scrappy encounter, the visitor's stole the spoils 3-1.

On a pleasant evening when the long ball ruled, the Tigers were just a little more polished and a little more clinical in front of goal.

St George grabbed the lead in the seventh minute when Spanish import Juan Carlos Romero sealed his debut with a crisp volley past Tigers' keeper Harrison Deverish-Meares. But the visitors struck back when striker Ryan Peterson equalised with a clinical finish in the eleventh minute; before grabbing his second from the penalty spot just before halftime. Joel Hardwick struck the Tigers' third a few minutes into the second half.

The Tigers dominated early, with Peterson and right winger Max Glanville causing grief amongst a hesitant St George defence. Crosses and long balls were plentiful and five minutes into the match, Peterson attempted an audacious long range effort from just outside the centre circle. St George breathed a huge sigh of relief when the ball sailed over the bar.

Glanville, who was suffering from heat stroke earlier in the week, then shot across the goalmouth as Saints' backline again struggled to contain the mercurial number 8. But in the seventh minute and against the run of play, St George opened the scoring when Romero connected perfectly on the volley and rocketed the ball into the back of the net.

Saints' joy was short-lived however, as Peterson ran onto a long ball four minutes later and rifled his shot past a despairing Andrew Depta to equalise.

Both sides continued to attack and in the 16th minute Tigers keeper Devenish-Meares saved his side when he punched clear a dangerous free kick by Saints' import Orman Okunaiya.   

Despite the topsy turvy nature of the contest, it was the Tigers who looked most likely to score. Glanville again made a dash down the right flank, only to be denied by a great sliding tackle from Saints' Ali Nasreddine. Not to be deterred, the Tigers' maestro continued to taunt the Saints' backline and in the 25th minute volleyed over the bar from the edge of the box. Eight minutes later Peterson chased another inch-perfect pass into the box but lost his footing, spurning a golden opportunity to extend his side's lead.   

At the other end, Deverish-Meares was again called upon, his quick reflexes stopping a glancing header by Romero. The Tigers' keeper and Saints' new buy from Spain were certainly earning their keep.

However, three minutes short of halftime, Saints' Jayden Mcleod conceded a penalty, enabling Peterson to caress the ball past Depta to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.

The visitors held the advantage at halftime and came out of the sheds full of confidence and intent. Three minutes after the restart they extended their advantage when Joel Hardwick ran onto yet another long ball and blasted a screamer past Depta to give his side what was ultimately an unassailable 3-1 lead.

The Tigers' confidence gathered momentum and while Saints never gave up and scrapped and contested every 50-50 ball, the Tigers proved to be superior in key areas. They toiled hard and valued possession. They moved quicker and created space, causing panic to a less mobile St George, who struggled to cope with the onslaught. And finally, the Tigers' quality and finishing ability proved to be the major difference between the two sides.

In the 70th minute, Tigers' sub Kyohei Kimura, who'd only entered the fray a few minutes earlier, was involved in a nasty collision with Saints keeper Andrew Depta, forcing the Japanese from the pitch with a knee injury. A preliminary examination suggested a damaged MCL.

Saints refused to surrender and never gave up but the Reds just couldn't breach the Tigers' defence. To add insult to injury, Daniel Mitwali was red carded in injury time, ending a disappointing evening for a brave but outclassed St George.

Northern Tigers coach Mark McCormick was delighted with the win and said that a little bit of quality was the difference between the two sides.

"I think we dominated the game in terms of possession and I was happy with that," McCormick told Football NSW. "I think we were sound structurally and we had just a little bit of extra quality. After taking the lead late in the first half, we reiterated at the break that while we were doing the correct things, we needed to come out and be a little more aggressive in the second half and make our chances inside the box count. I think in both boxes we wanted it more and that's what happened in the second half."

Meanwhile, St George assistant coach Gwynne Berry had no complaints about the result, conceding that the better side won on the night.

"I thought they played a lot better than us, particularly in the first half," Berry told Football NSW. "We got ourselves caught out a little before halftime and then conceded straight away in the second half, which was a bit of a setback. But in the last 30 minutes we made some changes which benefited us and we were a little bit better towards the end of the game. But no complaints, they were better than us physically and technically, and their rotation was better than ours too."

When asked what positives emerged from the defeat, Berry replied: "As a coaching staff we learnt a little bit more about our players. We've learnt a bit of a lesson today and that gives us a good opportunity to evaluate and move forward from here. The positive is the negatives highlighted what we need to work on. "       

Match Stats

St George 1 (Juan Carlos Romero 7') Northern Tigers 3 (Ryan Peterson 11', 42', Joel Hardwick 48')

Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda

Saturday 18 March 2017

Referee: Roberto Mattei

Assistant Referees: Matthew McOrist, Raymond Osborne

St George: 1. Andrew Depta (GK), 3. Ali Nasreddine, 4. Jonathan Kontalis (10. Nicholas Paras 58'), 5. Jayden Mcleod, 6. Zac Ribeiro (9. Stevan Ilic), 7. Robbie Deasy, 11. Orman Okunaiya, 14. Jacob Bandur (18. David Ilic 27'), 16. Daniel Loe, 20. Juan Carlos Heras Romero, 34. Daniel Mitwali.

Unused Subs: 19. Anthony Riveiro, 38. Anthony Barca

Yellow Cards: 4. Jonathan Kontalis, 5. Jayden McLeod, 34. Daniel Mitwali

Red Cards: 34. Daniel Mitwali

Coach: Terry Palapanis

Northern Tigers: 1. Harrison Devenish-Meares, 2. Josh Ward, 3. Jamie Craig, 4. Michael Rolston, 6. Jordan Ferrier, 7. Joel Hardwick, 8. Max Glanville (27. Karim Moursi 56'), 10. Lucas Dawson, 11. Lachlan Hughes (17. Kyohei Kimura 65' - 12. Liam Mcconaghy 76'), 18. Joshua Tanner, 19. Ryan Peterson

Unused Subs: 13. Paul Turrin, 20. Eliot Carwardine

Yellow Cards: 11. Lachlan Hughes, 3. Jamie Craig, 8. Max Glanville

Coach: Mark McCormick

North Shore Mariners 4 Bankstown City 1, Blacktown Football Park

Sharpshooter Mitch Smith grabbed a hat-trick and namesake Marquin Smith scored one goal as North Shore Mariners powered to a 4-1 victory over Bankstown City Lions at Blacktown Football Park on Saturday night. The win was the Mariners' first of the season.

Bankstown opened the scoring when Bruno Pivato took advantage of an errant back pass by defender James Scott but Smith headed home twice to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead at halftime.

Mariners coach Joe Haywood said during the week that his new-look side needed to improve after failing to win a game after two rounds. The Englishman was granted his wish.

Despite facing a side that last week conceded five goals to Western Sydney Wanderers, Haywood was wary of Bankstown and expected a good, competitive game.

"We won comfortably in the end, but the score-line didn't reflect the game," Haywood told Football NSW.

"Bankstown actually scored first and were on top of us in the first 20 minutes. We were a little sloppy but we managed to keep ourselves together which is something we hadn't done in previous rounds. We've got a good spirit in the camp and we stuck together. We didn't let our structure go, we didn't worry when we went down a goal, the boys followed the game plan really well."

Haywood also revealed that this was the first game in which he'd been able to select a competitive midfield.

"In the first two games we had boys who were filling in so we're slowly but surely getting an actual full squad which is making us more competitive."

North Shore welcomed the return of captain and midfielder Ricky Woodward, defender James Scott and striker Mitch Arcosa, adding quality and experience to the side. Despite Scott's earlier mishap, Haywood said the defender had an outstanding game, while the other two provided some quality that had been missing in the opening two rounds.   

Meanwhile, in a shock development, Bankstown appointed Mile Todorovski as their new first grade coach on the eve of the clash with the Mariners.

North Shore Mariners: 36. Stefan Giglio, 4. James Scott, 33. Tadgh Purcell, 21. Aaron Davis, 3. Chris Lindsay, 6. Ricky Woodward, 8. Mitch Arcosa, 18. Marquin Smith, 11. Freddy Ankumah-Sey, 10. Brayden Cheng, 18. Mitch Smith

Coach: Joe Haywood

Bankstown City: S. Tarazona, 1. Dion Shaw (GK), 3. Alexander Becerra, 4. Billy Darwich, 5. Jeffrey Issa, 6. Aaron D'Mello, 7. Bruno Pivato, 8. David Mcmurray, 9. N. Todoroski, 11. Huseyin Jasli, 12. Steven Veleski, 14. Mate Lucic, 15. A. Tolomeo, 17. Adem Kir, 21. H. Timms (GK), 27. A. Gauci.

Yellow Cards: 3. Alexander Becerra; 6. Aaron D'Mello; 4. Billy Darwich

Coach: Mile Todorovski

Macarthur Rams v Blacktown Spartans, Lynwood Park

Blacktown Spartans maintained their place at the top of the table alongside Marconi with a grinding 3-2 victory over Macarthur Rams at Lynwood Park on Saturday night.

Afghani Mohamad Rahimi scored twice and Alex Boyadijan added another for the Spartans; while Frank Martey and Craig Cooley replied for the Rams.

"It was a tough one. They're a good team," Spartans coach Luis Contigiani told Football NSW. "We started really well and created a lot of chances in the first 15 minutes. We should've put a few away but we squandered chances."

Boyadijan opened the scoring for the Spartans but a lapse in concentration enabled the Rams to equalise through a penalty just shy of halftime.

"That goal was disappointing," Contigiani said of the equaliser. "Their player beat four of our defenders before going down in the box. That lapse in concentration let them back in the game."

The Rams continued their momentum to dominate early in the second half but it was the Spartans who broke the deadlock when Rahimi struck to give his side a 2-1 lead. The advantage however, didn't last long, as Rams fullback Craig Cooley volleyed home an equaliser.

With the game bouncing from end of the field to the other, the Spartans received a penalty when Garang Awac was brought down inside the box. Boyadijan stepped up and tried to blast the spot kick down the middle, only to see Rams' goalkeeper Nicodin Matic deny him a second goal.

With time running out and the Spartans desperate to grab a winner, Rahimi raced onto a through ball and slotted home at the far post to again claim a last-gasp victory.

"I'm very proud of the boys' discipline, very proud of the effort," Contigiani said. "We're grounded, we know we've still got a mountain to climb. We're not beating teams convincingly and I'm not 100 per cent convinced yet. I'm happy with the discipline and the effort, but I think we can improve and be even better. Macarthur were tough but when you win it inspires confidence. The boys are feeling really good."

Meanwhile, Rams' head coach Bill Pilovski said it was an entertaining game but his side were unlucky.

"A draw would have been a good result," Pilovski told Football NSW. "But when you're winning as the Spartans have been winning and you've got momentum, luck or the bounce of the ball seems to fall your way. The Spartans played well but I'm happy with my boys because we played well too. That's football."

Macarthur Rams: 1. Nikodin Matic, 2. Craig Cooley, 4. Simon Valastro, James Rolston, 16. Mitch Di Pietro, 10. Ben Cornish, 23. George Codrea, 14. Kurdy Abduljabbar, 15. Mason Versi, 7. Frank Martey, 8. Matthew Trotter

Yellow Cards: 2. Craig Cooley; 19. Jordan Ward

Head Coach: Bill Pilovski

Blacktown Spartans' Starting XI: 1. Domenic Nasimben, 16. Alessandro Peccora, 2. Daisan Kim, Emmanuel Elali, 4. Tiano Boutoubia, 8. Aaron White, 10. Kojiro Hori, 6. Mohamad Rahimi, 7. Michael Konestabo, 9. Garang Awac, 11. Alex Boyadijan

Yellow Cards: 11. Alex Boyadijan, 7. Michael Konestabo; Emmanuel Elali

Coach: Luis Contigiani

Marconi Stallions 3 Bankstown Berries 1, Marconi Stadium

Marconi Stallions continued their unbeaten run with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Bankstown Berries at Marconi Stadium on Saturday night.

Mirjan Pavlovic scored two goals and Sean Rooney grabbed the other; while Andreas Vais pulled one back for the Berries.  

Marconi coach Tony Candy last week suggested that complacency played a big part in his side’s lukewarm performance against Macarthur, where the Stallions won 1-0 by virtue of an own goal.

“We want to make sure that this weekend we get our attitude right and play the way we want to play,” Candy told Football NSW. Saturday night's 3-1 victory would have gone some way towards achieving that aim.

Faced by a formidable starting eleven that included former Socceroo Michael Beauchamp; and ex-A-Leaguers Peter Triantis, Sean Rooney, Mirjan Pavlovic and Marko Jesic, the Berries faced an uphill battle before the game even started. But to their credit, player coach Perry Moustakas had his unfashionable outfit primed for battle.

"It was a great performance from my boys," Moustakas told Football NSW. "We really got stuck in and made it hard for Marconi. The difference between the sides was they were more clinical than us. The boys learnt a lot from the game but moving forward we need to take our chances and start getting results."

Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic, 4. Dhari Alsaad, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 6. Raimond Coletta (26. Fabian Monge), 7. Mirjan Pavlovic (24. Richard Darko), 8. Sean Rooney, 10. Marko Jesic, 17. Theo Kofinas, 18. Peter Triantis, 22. Brandon Vella, 23. Christopher Nunes, 24. Richard Darko, 25. Sam Burfoot, 42. Fabian Monge

Unused Subs: 14. Peter Pelekanos; 11. Sam Perre; 21. Kristian Sekutkoski

Yellow Cards: 4. Dhari Alsaad

Coach: Tony Candy

Bankstown Berries: 1. Chad Taylor (GK), 2. Domenico Tripodi (17. Daniel Fornito), 3. Daniel Di Ruocco (10. Vincent Giannini), 5. James Combes, 6. Mitchell Farmer, 7. Kyle Ewart, 8. Domenic Hudap, 9. Gavin Forbes, 11. Andreas Vais, 15. Perry Moustakas, 19. Hiyama Tomohiro (12. Jake Bradshaw), 20. Nicholas Mouzourakis

Unused Subs: 21. John Dimitrakas,  14. Ted Patroulias

Yellow Cards: 7. Kyle Ewart; 11. Andreas Vais

Player Coach: Perry Moustakas           

Referee: T. Danaskos

Assistant Referees: J. Park, J. Lalic

Western Sydney Wanderers 4 Spirit FC 3, Sydney United Sports Centre

Western Sydney Wanderers continued with their winning way with a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Spirit FC at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday night.

The young Wanderers cruised to a 3-0 lead at the break but Spirit fought back courageously with second half goals to Yuya Samba (two) and Jacob Harris.  

Wanderers ace Abraham Majok grabbed a double, while Mario Shabow and Tariq Maia scored one apiece.

Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan said his side had 60 per cent possession throughout the game and was pleased with a couple of the goals created by his young charges.

"Spirit were well organised and tried to catch us in transition moments, looking to pounce when we lost the ball," Morgan told Football NSW. "I think the 3-0 margin at halftime may have flattered us by one goal, but we definitely deserved to be leading."

Spirit changed tactics after the break and pressed from the restart, immediately forcing the Wanderers into error. The ball was played back to goalkeeper Nick Suman whose clearance led to a goal by Yuya Samba in a matter of seconds.

Morgan was disappointed to concede so early and that disappointment only increased when Spirit struck again to bridge the gap to 3-2.

"In the end, I think we should've gone for a clean sheet to be honest," Morgan said. "We had a 3-0 lead and the kids were playing good football, but we should've been able to finish it off."

Meanwhile, Spirit coach David Perkovic conceded that while the first half belonged to Western Sydney, he was proud of his side's performance in the second.

"The Wanderers were clearly the better side in the first half, our boys didn't adapt to my tactics as well as I thought they would," Perkovic told Football NSW. "So we changed things after halftime. My instructions were to be positive, aggressive, and to go out there and win the second half."

With their coach's pep talk ringing in their ears, Spirit were quite aggressive in the second half and within minutes scored twice through Samba and Harris. But as the clock ticked away, the Wanderers held possession and eventually pulled away to win the three points.

"We learnt a lot from the game and the boys came off the pitch pretty positive from the second half," Perkovic said. "They got a bit of belief from that display and we'll carry that throughout the week as we prepare for our next game."

Perkovic added that his side's execution of the game plan was quite poor in the first half, allowing Western Sydney to open up a big lead.

"Wanderers are a quality team and they keep the ball well. We were good enough to get back into the game so credit to our boys and next time we play them at least we can draw on such a positive experience. It was just disappointing how we played in the first half. But our reaction was positive after that."

For Spirit, Yuya Samba was very strong; Chris Godoy Bascur was good off the bench and Andre Carle performed well, operating up front in the first half before being moved to wing in the second.

For the Wanderers Abraham Majok and Mario Shabow both turned in blue chip performances.

Western Sydney Wanderers: 40. Nick Suman (GK), 24. Tate Russell, 2. Lachlan Campbell, 4. Henry Davies (3. Abdel Kuku), 26. Jackson Bandiera, 25. Liam Youlley, 50. Tariq Maia, 11. Kosta Grozos, 18. Oliver Puflett, 49. Abraham Majok, 21. Mario Shabow

Unused Subs: 16. Jerry Skotadis, 20. Daniel Axford (GK)

Yellow Cards: 18. Oliver Puflett

Coach: Trevor Morgan

Spirit FC: 1. Murray Nelson (GK), 2. Daniel Cunningham (6. Alexander Doyle), 3. Jack Musgrave, 4. Michael Streeter, 5. Andrew Robertson (9. Christopher Godoy Bascur), 7. Jacob Harris, 8. Grant Cornwell (C), 12. Louie Bozanic, 14. Andre Carles, 17. Yuya Samba, 22. David Von Dinklage (11. Dylan Whitlock)

Unused Subs: 26. James Webb, 20. Zoran Kolundzic

Yellow Cards: 7. Jacob Harris, 11. Dylan Whitlock

Coach: David Perkovic

Referee: S. Brennan

Assistant Referees: V. Prasac, C. Wright

Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Mounties Wanderers, Popondetta Park

WASHED OUT

Hills Brumbies 5 Central Coast Mariners 4, Lilys Football Centre

In a nine-goal thriller at Lilys Football Centre on Sunday afternoon, Hills Brumbies grabbed a last-gasp 5-4 victory over Central Coast Mariners, condemning the academy side to their third straight defeat of the season.

The home side trailed for the entire match and came back from 4-2 down to steal the game at the death, when Sean Mitchell struck home an 87th minute winner.

Other scorers for the victors were Matias Toro Suazo, Nathan Rayner, and sharpshooter Peter Cejka, who grabbed two.

Brumbies coach Dan Sheppard was pleased with the win but not so happy that his side conceded four goals.

"We played far better than we did last week (in an upset loss to St George) but today was also a better game," Sheppard told Football NSW. "It was an even game and the Mariners played really well. It was probably the toughest game we've had, including preseason. They're a very good team. We just need to work on our defence. That was a problem."

In what was an incredibly entertaining game for the fans, it wouldn't have surprised if Sheppard and Mariners' mentor Ben Cahn endured heart palpitations for the entire 90 minutes.

Sheppard agreed.

"Yeah, good for the fans, not so good for the coaches," the Brumbies coach mused.

"Central Coast played really well and I can imagine how disappointed they must be."

The win sees the Brumbies move into third-equal on the ladder with Northern Tigers, while the Mariners remain in last place alongside Bankstown Berries and their crosstown rivals, Bankstown City Lions.

Hills Brumbies: 1. J. Stancic, 3. N. Pradenas Meza, 6 B. Robertson, 7. Wade Giovenali, 9. Sean Mitchell, 10. Jordan Parfait, 11. Daine Merrin (C), 14. V. Anyimba, 15. Matias Toro Suazo, 16. Greg Giovenali, 17. B. Hoyer, 19. G. Kelshaw, 24. N. Rayner, 34. J. Franich, 35. M. Glenfield, 91. Peter Cejka.

Coach: Dan Sheppard

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Adam Pearce, 2. Shelford Dais, 5. Charles William, 6. James Enticknap, 7. Lachlan Wales, 8. Thomas Lyons, 9. Brenton Fox, 10. Duncan Stewart, 11. Peter Kekeris, 14. Sean Pratt, 15. Yerasimakis Petratos, 16. Gianni Stensness, 18. Steve Whyte.

Coach: Ben Cahn

Source FNSW Website -By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter

Week 3 Blast from the past

This week we show the testimonial match programme from one of the clubs greats in the early 1980s. Dez Marton joined the Saints in 1981 and played for four seasons, finishing his career with Wollongong Wolves in 1985, but it was with the Saints that he is well remembered, a scorer of goals, goals and more goals.

Upon retirement in 1985, at the age of 37, the Saints put on a testimonial for Dez at St George Stadium, in an unusual match of three thirds. A Saints XI played Australia for the opening 30 minutes, before the final two thirds of the game featured a raft of NSL and international players at the time. Note the names of Frank Farina, Peter Raskopoulos and Robbie Slater to name just three amongst many.

And Dez can still be seen at our games, from time to time.