Some top notch match ups headline round two, not least of all Bankstown Berries v Macarthur Rams at the brand new Valentine Sports Park.
Bankstown Berries v Macarthur Rams, Saturday 730pm, Valentine Sports Park, Parklea
Two of the victors from the first round clash head to head this weekend, unusually at Valentine Sports Park, the only fixture of this round which sees two winners meet. Both the Berries and the Rams had good results in their respective openers, even if there was only one goal difference in both games, and with eyes on a strong season, Bankstown Berries and Macarthur will surely seek to set themselves up for a positive start with a further win here.
The Berries recruited well during the off season and any side which can go to Mills Park and claim all three points deserve respect. One senses, even at this early stage, that the Berries will be one of the contenders this season, unlike last, so the result here will be sought after with interest.
Macarthur Rams have only just started to get their team together, with injuries during preseason preventing what might be regarded as genuine starting XIs in the cup, which perhaps explains their less than strong results, but now that the season proper has swung into action, expect the Rams, always a tough physical side, to take no prisoners. They fought hard against St George last weekend, and this week will surely be no different.
Mounties Wanderers v Northern Tigers Saturday 730pm Cook Park, Mt Pritchard
Conversely, this fixture sees two opening round losers face each other in the only such clash. Neither side would have been too happy going down on the opening day, and to suffer two early losses in two would be something neither would want to contemplate, bearing in mind the expectations both clubs would have. The fact that the match is at Cook Park maybe favours the Mounties, but the Tigers, who won here 3-1 last season, will have no qualms about the trip.
The Mounties were kept scoreless last week but they have the strike power to cause some real damage, as the Tigers will no doubt be aware, so this one shapes up as a real corker. The Tigers, who have started the season without the injured Michael Rolston and Steven Baveas, may be content to take a point here.
St George v Central Coast, Saturday 730pm, St George Stadium, Rockdale
St George will greet the visiting Central Coast hoping to get their season off and running after last week’s loss. It was a close run thing at Lynwood Park, the Saints almost earning a late equaliser and they will take some measure of comfort knowing that both goals conceded were “only” from the spot. The defence generally held strong, with the new central defensive pairing of Daniell Zeleny and Emmanuel Elali, but they will again need to be on the ball against a young Central Coast outfit.
The Coast, winners against Sydney University, will travel to Sydney with confidence, looking to continue on from last season’s excellent results. It has been four years since the clubs last met, with the Coast, then also coached by Peter Preston, leaving St George Stadium with a 2-1 win under their belts. Having completed the double that year over the Saints, the Coast, and Preston, will be sure to aim for a similar outcome again.
Sydney University v Hakoah Sydney City East, Saturday 730pm, Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Hakoah Sydney City East couldn’t have asked for a better start to their season, winning 3-2 in their opening game. They will take great pride from that result, and knowledge that they will be competitive at this level, and they will travel to Lambert Park with another three points on their minds. They certainly won’t need to adjust to the synthetic pitch, unlike most who will travel to Lambert Park this season, while Sydney University, previous fellow tenants at artificial Hensley, should also have no concerns.
Uni will want to ensure that their first game at Lambert Park is a successful one, especially after suffering that defeat last weekend, so this points to a very keenly contested feature game this Saturday night.
Fraser Park v Spirit FC, Sunday 3pm, Fraser Park, Sydenham
Another club which will be using a synthetic home pitch for the first time will be Fraser Park, whose revamped Sydenham home will be in use for the first time in the league since the 2013 season. While the full facilities are not yet complete, the playing arena is and Fraser Park will finally again be playing “at home”.
Such a return cannot be underestimated for their fortunes and Fraser Park will surely want to kick off with a win on their new pitch. They will need to be at their best however, taking on a strong Spirit FC side who defeated Bankstown City last week.
The slightly better record between the two lies with Spirit who have six wins from the twelve matches played since Spirit’s rise in 2009, while Fraser Park have won four with two drawn. Not a lot between the two then and this promises to be another close encounter.
Bankstown City FC v Mount Druitt Town Rangers, Sunday 4pm, Jensen Park, Sefton
The second game on Sunday, kicking off at 4pm, sees Bankstown City entertain Mount Druitt Town Rangers at Jensen Park. Both clubs had tough first up fixtures but it was the Rangers who gathered points while the Lions will need to regroup after their first round loss. Jensen Park is always a tough place to visit though, and the Lions only lost once there last season, so it will be tough for Mount Druitt Town.
But while they lost at Jensen last season, the Rangers appear a different team this year with plenty of experience, and players who have tasted success in previous years. That experience will count for a lot when they travel to such difficult venues so there should be no surprises for the visitors this weekend.
Source FNSW -By Peter Rowney