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.

Round 2 Preview PS4 NPL NSW Men's 2

The Football NSW cameras will be heading to Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday night for the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s match of the round between St George and Northern Tigers.

Both sides will be looking to build on first-up wins last weekend, where Saints upset highly fancied Hills Brumbies, and Northern Tigers battled to a 2-1 victory over Mounties Wanderers. In other matches, Western Sydney Wanderers host Spirit FC; Bankstown City visit North Shore Mariners; Mounties Wanderers journey to Mt Druitt Town Rangers; Macarthur Rams host Blacktown Spartans; Bankstown Berries visit Marconi; and on Sunday, Hills Brumbies and Central Coast battle it out at Lilys Football Centre.

Match of the Round

St George v Northern Tigers, Seymour Shaw, Saturday 18 March, 7pm

St George and Northern Tigers meet in the match of the round at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday night. In a clash that pits the seventh and eighth placed teams against one another, both sides will be looking to build on first-up wins last weekend, where Saints upset newly-promoted Hills Brumbies 2-1, and Northern Tigers battled to a 2-1 victory over Mounties Wanderers.

While Saints coach Terry Palapanis was happy to see his side bounce back from a 5-3 defeat in Round 1 to beat the Brumbies, he stressed that his side needs to improve.

“We were decent against Hills and showed good character to get a result,” Palapanis told Football NSW. “But we need to show improvement in our movement of the ball and our ability to get the ball into advanced areas.”

When asked what he thought of the Northern Tigers, Palapanis said he had tremendous respect for a team that is “well coached, mobile and very good on the counter”.

“Northern Tigers are a good side who had a good result on the weekend (2-1 win against Mounties) and I think it’ll be a really tough contest,” Palapanis said. “They’ll be a good challenge. But we’ll be right, we’ll change a few things up.”

Unfortunately for Saints, captain Tariq Ercan, Jacob Sullivan, and Rino Zenari are among a host of players unavailable due to injury however the suspended Zac Ribeiro returns to the fold after sitting out a one-match suspension.

Meanwhile, Tigers’ coach Mark McCormick told Football NSW he was expecting St George to be well organised and brimming with confidence after last week’s victory over the Brumbies.

“St George is always well-organised. They have a good coach and they had a very good result last week against a good Brumbies side,” he said.

On the injury front, Tigers’ Ally Brown and Ollie Stickland are still recovering from long-term injuries, while Max Glanville is recovering from heat stroke.

A number of Tigers players are also suffering from the flu, forcing McCormick to delay naming his match day squad as late as possible.

North Shore Mariners vs Bankstown City, Blacktown Football Park, Saturday 18 March, 7pm

North Shore Mariners host Bankstown City Lions at Blacktown Football Park this Saturday and both sides will be hoping to win their first match of the season. The Mariners last weekend drew one-all with Mt Druitt Town Rangers at Popondetta Park, while Bankstown suffered a 5-1 defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers after holding them to a 1-0 lead at halftime.

Mariners coach Joe Haywood was happy with his side’s performance against Mt Druitt but conceded that there’s plenty of improvement in what is essentially a brand-new team.

“It was a decent result and a step in the right direction,” Haywood told Football NSW. “It was a good defensive display and we were good on the counter attack. We created some opportunities and scored a good goal. But we were inconsistent and need to fix that.”

Despite facing a side that conceded five goals to the Wanderers, Haywood is wary of Bankstown, a team he believes is a “good outfit”.

“Obviously they haven’t had the best of starts so far, but neither have we so I’m expecting a good, competitive game. We’ve had a loss and a draw and hopefully we can get a win this weekend.”

The Mariners have lost Michael Stojanovski to suspension after receiving a red card last week, but the blow of his absence will be softened by the return to action of captain and midfielder Ricky Woodward, defender James Scott and striker Mitch Arcosa, who played 20s last week.         

Meanwhile, Bankstown City Lions coach John Caruana said that despite his side’s 5-1 defeat to the young Wanderers last weekend, they played well in the first half, only to change tactics and lose structure in the second, which proved to be costly.

“We created chances through set plays and caught them out a few times,” Caruana said of his side’s first half performance. “And they only led 1-0 at the break. But we lost our shape and direction in the second half and lacked conviction. And when we pushed forward to get back in the game, we got punished. But I think that if we’d scored a goal in the first half, it would’ve been a different game.”

Caruana remains confident his side can challenge for a place in the semi-finals, but rues the fact that, due to three washouts – one friendly, and the season opener against Bankstown Berries “twice”, they’ve only played one game in a number of weeks.

When asked what he expected of the Mariners, Caruana said: “They’re very organised, they’ve got some quality players and a lot of speed up front. And they play quite direct. Last week’s loss to Western Sydney was very disappointing but I know, and the players know, that we’re better than that. It’s a long season and we’re hoping to get a result this Saturday.”

Key players Davide Talone (fractured ankle) and Hussein Akil (hamstring) remain on the sidelines, but with 25 matches still to go, and combinations yet to be established, Caruana is confident things will eventually turn for the better.

Macarthur Rams v Blacktown Spartans, Lynwood Park, Saturday 18 March, 7pm

Blacktown Spartans travel to Lynwood Park on Saturday night and despite their unbeaten streak after two rounds, coach Luis Costigiani has warned his young charges to be wary of the opposition.

“Macarthur are fighters and they’re not going to be easy,” he told Football NSW. “They’ll use their aerial strength from set pieces and every challenge will be a contest. I’m expecting a very tough game.”

Decimated by the mass off season exodus of last year’s NPL 1 squad, Spartans have relied on a group of rookies whose average age is just 20. And funnily enough, they’ve enjoyed an unlikely run of two wins from as many games.

“When you win it inspires confidence,” Costigiani said. “The boys are feeling good. I’m confident we’ll win again but as I said, it won’t be easy.”

“Costigiani added that to won the spoils, his side would need to defend a lot of aerial balls and stop the Rams from crossing from wide areas “because they’re dangerous when they do that”.

“But most importantly we’re focusing on the way “we” play and if we stick to what we know best, that’s how we’ll hurt them.”

Apart from the unavailability of Richard Blanco, the Spartans have no injury concerns and have a full squad to choose from.

Meanwhile, Macarthur suffered the misfortune of conceding an own goal and having a man sent off in their 1-0 defeat at Marconi last weekend. Simon Valastro put the ball into his own net early in the first half while Danny Lazarevski was given his marching orders after a reckless tackle on the Stallions’ Sam Burfoot. The loss followed the side’s one-all draw with Spirit FC in Round 1.

Marconi Stallions v Bankstown Berries, Valentine Sports Park, Saturday 18 March, 7.30pm

Marconi will be hoping to show some improvement after a narrow 1-0 victory over Macarthur Rams last weekend. Despite creating several goal-scoring chances, the Stallions had to rely on an own goal by Macarthur’s Simon Valastro to win the spoils. Add to that the fact that the Rams were a man short after Danny Lazarevski was sent off for a reckless challenge, and Marconi can consider themselves fortunate to have escaped with three points.

Stallions’ coach Tony Candy lamented that facing a team that is one man down is always a tough proposition and suggested that complacency played a big part in his side’s lukewarm performance.

“It’s always difficult playing against 10 men and I think we switched off and became complacent,” Candy told Football NSW. “We want to make sure that this weekend we get our attitude right and play the way we want to play.”

When asked what he expected of the Berries, Candy said, “I have no idea about them. They have a new team, a new coach I believe. But I assume they’ll be well organised. Other than that, I have no idea.”

Apart from Sam Burfoot, the Stallions are injury free and have a full squad to select from this Saturday.

Meanwhile, Bankstown Berries’ player coach Perry Moustakas came away from last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Spirit FC happy with the fighting qualities of his team. “It wasn’t a great day at the office but even though we lost our way a bit, the fighting spirit was there, which I think is the most important thing,” Moustakas said. “There were a lot of disappointed players in the dressing room, which is good.”

The Berries boast a good mix of youth and experience, one Moustakas has selected for its hunger to succeed. But whether that’s enough to combat a Marconi outfit that has the most star-studded team in the competition, is another matter.

Unfortunately for the Berries, their catch-up fixture against rivals Bankstown City Lions on Wednesday night was washed out for the second time, the clash again ruined by Sydney’s inclement weather.

Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Mounties Wanderers, Popondetta Park, Saturday 18 March, 7pm

Mounties Wanderers travel to Popondetta Park to face Mt Druitt Town Rangers this Saturday, hoping to make amends for last week’s defeat to Northern Tigers that had coach Lee Sterrey frustrated by their inability to convert opportunities into goals.

Sterrey slammed his side for missing “seven or eight one-on-one’s” especially his front three, who he said, “needed to take responsibility”.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” Sterrey told Football NSW, “we actually threw away three points. Having said that, I’ve come away with a 2-1 loss but feeling comfortable with the football we played. We deserved a hell of a lot more than zero points out of the game.”

When asked what he expected of Mt Druitt, Sterrey replied: “They’ll be tough opponents, they’ve always been one of the better sides in NPL 2. Certainly they’ve got a good, balanced squad and their recruitment this year has been good. It’s going to be a very tough game for us.”

Sterrey conceded that while his side had no injury concerns, “only our hearts hurt after not taking our chances last week”, he hoped they’d continue playing a good brand of football and to develop combinations after several personnel changes in the offseason.

“If we continue to play the same brand of open football and create the same amount of chances as we did last week, we’ll get more joy than sadness and I’d like to think we’ll be coming off on the right side of the ledger.”  

Meanwhile, Mt Druitt coach Aidan Desmond also lamented his side’s inability to score goals after last week being held to a 1-1 draw at home to North Shore Mariners.

“We need to be more clinical in the front third,” Desmond told Football NSW. “That’s what we’ll be working on this week.”

Desmond added that he thought Mounties would be “hurting” after last’s week’s loss, a setback that he said was surprising. “I was surprised they lost, but Lee Sterrey will have them well prepared physically and mentally to make sure they’re back on track. Lee’s teams don’t normally lose two-in-a-row.”

Western Sydney Wanderers v Spirit FC, Sydney United Sports Centre, Saturday 18 March, 7pm

Western Sydney Wanderers host Spirit FC at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday night and after their resounding 5-1 victory over Bankstown City last weekend, the young guns from Sydney’s west will be brimming with confidence.

But that youthful exuberance is sure to be kept in check by coach Trevor Morgan, who will be looking for discipline and improvement from his charges.

It goes without saying that the Wanderers’ NPL 2 objectives are completely different to their non A-League counterparts. It’s not about a first grade team where they’re just trying to perform each week. It’s about monitoring the loads placed on their players, especially those who are training with the first team.

“If we didn’t have a first team above us I’d be focusing purely on my boys in a different way, a bit more like every other club does,” Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan said.

“But we take into consideration our objective which is to give our boys a pathway out of our side and into the first team, and also that we accept that when the players have a heavy load with the first team, they’re not going to play as much for us.”

Despite the club’s charter, the Wanderers’ NPL 2 side will be gunning for Spirit FC and with their team of teenage young guns, will be hopeful of reinforcing their position as one of the competition’s heavyweights.

Meanwhile, Spirit FC coach David Perkovic believes a specific game plan and his side’s ability to execute that game plan will be crucial if Spirit is to be competitive against the Wanderers.

“It’s all about the finer details because teams like the Wanderers will punish you for minute mistakes,” Perkovic said. “We’ll have to be close to perfect in our execution of our game plan to get something out of the match, but the boys are capable and looking forward to it. These are the kind of games you don’t have to motivate your players for.”

So what is Perkovic expecting of the Wanderers?

“I’m expecting them to play exactly like their A-League team,” he replied. “Trevor (Morgan) is a very good coach and he’ll have them working to (Wanderers A-League coach Tony Popovic) Poppa’s tactics. In that sense, how they play is not going to be a surprise so we can plan for it. But it’s going to come down to the execution of our game plan that will be the contributing factor to how competitive we are.”

Apart from a dislocated ankle suffered by Emmanuel Gomez in last week’s win over Bankstown Berries; and a hamstring strain to Tim Porter, Perkovic has the luxury of a fully fit squad available for selection. Gomez is likely to be sidelined for at least six weeks, while Porter is a 50-50 proposition for this weekend’s game against Western Sydney.

Hills Brumbies v Central Coast Mariners, Lilys Football Centre, Sunday 19 March, 5pm

Hills Brumbies play host to Central Coast Mariners on Sunday afternoon in a clash that both teams will be desperate to win after suffering upset defeats last weekend. Hills were rocked by an unlikely 2-1 defeat to St George, while the young Mariners fell victim to a passionate Blacktown Spartans 3-2.

“We didn’t play very well against St George and we were off our game,” Brumbies coach Dan Sheppard told Football NSW. “If we’d played anywhere near our potential, it wouldn’t have been a competition. This week we need to play to the level we expect of ourselves. We need to play to a lot better quality and we need to apply ourselves in the right manner.”

Sheppard expects the Mariners to be a quality side, one that is far better than their results suggest. “They’re full of young, quality footballers keen on taking the next step on their footballing journey,” he said. “I’ve actually coached a few of them in the past and I know for a fact that they are all quality footballers. We expect them to be a pretty good team; their recent results don’t reflect how good they actually are.”

Unfortunately for the Brumbies, injuries have hit them hard. Wade Giovenali suffered a torn upper leg muscle and will be out for a few weeks; Marcus Zantonello has a long-term injury; while Eoin Montford injured his ankle at training and will be out for a month or so.

“Within a week we’ve gone from having one serious injury to having a number of injuries,” Sheppard said. “Our squad’s depleted and we’ll be trying to combat with the bare bones this week, which is surprising considering how healthy we were last week. But that’s part of the game.

“So, we’ve got six players who are 50-50 and four or five who are definitely unavailable. We don’t know what team we’ll select on the weekend because we don’t know who will be fit enough for selection.”

Meanwhile, Mariners coach Ben Cahn said that while his young team was distraught by their loss to the Spartans on Saturday night, there were several positives to draw on. “It was a good performance and the three goals we conceded were freakish. On another day we would’ve won that game so hopefully we take the positive lessons into the game against Hills.

“We don’t know too much about the Brumbies but they were good enough to win their division last season, so we know they’ll be a decent side. But this early on it’s quite unpredictable so we’ll just concentrate on ourselves and focus on our own improvements.”

One area Cahn says his side needs to improve on is their defence against setpieces.

“We conceded three goals from three setpieces against Blacktown and that’s obviously cause for concern for us. Ironically, defensively we were actually good in open play but we were naïve in giving away the penalty. We need to be a bit more mature and a bit more aggressive in the way we defend setpieces.”

Apart from an injury to Reece Papas, Central Coast has a full squad available for selection.

Source FNSW Website -By Derek Royal, Football NSW

Procotor Cup U15"s report

PROCTOR CUP 2017 - Under 15 Girls Review
The 15 Girls, along with the under 13’s and under 17’s, travelled to Bathurst this past weekend to take part in the Proctor Cup. Pooled in Group B with 2 Premier League 2 teams and two country association teams, it would prove to be an excellent weekend to gauge the girls progress in preparation for our season due to start at the beginning of April.
Our first game on Saturday afternoon was against the country association team from Wagga Wagga. After a nervous start, the girls got quickly into their stride, and the offensive and defensive systems of play we have been working on started to show some signs of life. We soon scored a great individual goal from Anna, and then 2 more gals saw us run out comfortable 3-0 winners. The early signs were very encouraging.
Our second game was against Sydney Olympic who play in Premier League 2. It would prove to be a wonderful game. The first half saw us more than hold our own, with some great defending, and then turning that into some great patient play when in possession of the ball, saw it 0-0 at half time. The girls were showing some great commitment and were up for the fight. Then with 10 minutes to go, a great team goal which saw about 6 first time passes set Jess Fearns clear on goal against the goalkeeper, where she kept her cool to give us the lead. Olympic reacted to going a goal down, but with the girls desperately defended and continually threw themselves in front of shots. We looked destined to secure the result in our favour. But then the referee decided to award Olympic a penalty with a handball which was dubious at best. However, Nat in goal was going to have none of it and made a great save to her right to turn the ball to the side of the goal. But the referee was not finished with us and awarded Olympic a second penalty not even a minute later. This time they converted. So at full time it finished 1-1, but most certainly we had proven to ourselves that we had shaded Olympic with our performance.
Sunday morning saw the girls turn up for the game with Bathurst full of confidence. They were set the challenge to repeat their efforts from the previous day. But the girls decided that simply repeating their efforts was not going to be good enough, and then proceeded to completely dominate Bathurst for the 40 minutes of the game. The score ended up 5-0, but could easily have been 10 or 11. Anyone who had the pleasure to have watched this game would have gone away completely satisfied with having watched a game played the way you love to see your football played. It was one of those times as a coach when you have simply nothing to add or say to your players, so complete was their performance.
So on to our last game against Bankstown City, another Premier League 2 side. A win would guarantee us a place in the semi-finals of the tournament. Unfortunately, we were drawn to play on the poorest of all the fields, and the up and down surface did not really suit us. With only an hour in between our earlier game, and with the temperature approaching 34 C, saw the girls a little flat. We dominated the early stages of the first half, but Bankstown finished on top leading into half time. Half time saw the girls asked for one last effort, and they responded, just like they had at every stage of the weekend. It would be fair to say that we once again outplayed our more fancied opponents in the second half, but could not get the goal that would have sent us through to the semi-finals in the end, and the game finished 0-0.
From a coaching point of view there were some great positives to come out of the weekend, that saw the girls really shine and set us up for a good season. 4 games played against good opposition undefeated. Some great combination play from back to front and a defensive effort that saw us concede no goals from general play with the only goal being conceded being from a spot kick.
Thank you to all the parents for the support and giving up a weekend spent in wonderful Bathurst. It proved to be a great weekend for forming bonds and getting some valuable confidence for the season ahead. Well done girls.

Mark Cupitt
Coach

Proctor Park Challenge 2017

With a high level of excitement our girl’s teams headed to Bathurst this weekend to take part in the Proctor Cup 2017.

Two days of great football was displayed on the pitch by the U13’s, U15, and U17’s, the girls played some beautiful football and if the results are anything to go by then these 3 teams will be a force to be reckoned with in 2017 WSL.

Our U13’s won 4 games out of 4 and went into the semis undefeated and finished 1st in their division.
They came up against Marconi in the semis with the score being 0-0 at full time. After extra time the score was still 0-0 and as usual it went to penalty shootout with the result being 3-0 to Marconi.
Our girls gave it their all and fought to the end, a spectacular result for a new and young team who came up against NPL2 teams and held their own. Well done to the girls and the coaching staff.

Our U15’s another young team with some great players amongst their midst once again had some great wins against NPL2 and finished 2nd in their division

Our 17’s showed some class and resilience on the pitch played well with some great passing skills; they came away with a couple of draws against some NPL2 teams.

Congratulations to the girls on their results and to the coaching and management staff for their hard work and dedication.
Again St George FC WSL has shown that we are a force to be reckoned with, all the best for the 2017 season starting on 2/4/2017 were the girl’s/women take on SD Raiders FC @ St George Stadium.

Round 2 PS4NPLNSW Men's 2

A very strong performance by our first team saw us come away from Hills Brumbies with a valuable 2-1 win, a tough defensive last thirty minutes showing that there is plenty of fight and dogged determination in our squad, which augers well for the season.

A sweetly hit Nicholas Paras free kick from just outside the box gave us an early lead but a quick moving Brumbies were good measure for the equaliser, scored by the lively Jordan Parfait.

Jayden McLeod, after strong running, put us back in the lead in the 56th, and while Brumbies certainly put us under sustained pressure as they searched for an equaliser, we held on well, notwithstanding some lacklustre Brumbies finishing. It was an excellent result, with great commitment shown throughout.

Earlier in the evening, our 18s kicked off the night, taking the lead in the 3rd minute through Ante Abramovic, but ended up at the wrong end of a 1-4 reverse, while our 20s fought back late from two down to score through Antony Barca but ran out of time, going down 1-2.

This Saturday, we are back at Seymour Shaw Park, when we take on Northern Tigers.