As two further re-arranged games were played midweek, the table finally starts to see some semblance of form, with much of the competition now having played their scheduled nine games. The table remains as close as ever, though Spirit and Central Coast are starting to build a bit of a lead.
Our interest, and feature, this week rests out west as Mount Druitt Town Rangers meets Macarthur Rams.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Macarthur Rams Saturday 7:30pm, Popondetta Park, Emerton
Mount Druitt Town Rangers are in a rich vein of form at the moment, seven points from their past nine, and things are looking good. A point at Mills Park was deserving, despite the lateness of the equaliser, setting themselves up nicely for the visit of Macarthur Rams this Saturday. Word that Elsid Barkhousir may be making his first appearance for the club, the first at least in a decade or so, will add interest and be a big boost to the Rangers.
Last season’s champions Macarthur Rams are not quite at last year’s level yet, but while they may have lost to Central Coast on Wednesday, they certainly provided them with a scare. Down 2-0 into the second half, the Rams fought back to 2-2 before the Coast got their winner. The Rams were depleted, being without Craig Cooley, Calum Fleming and Daniel Ramirez, but they should be back for the visit to Popondetta. Gavin Forbes, newly signed from Sydney University, will add much to the attack no doubt, as will Shannon Hankin, who came on as sub against the Coast, his first appearance since an offseason injury.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Mounties Wanderers, Saturday 7:30pm, Hensley Field, Pagewood
Hakoah should be nothing but pleased with how their inaugural Men’s 2 season has gone so far. Since day one, they have been making quite a few of the opposition clubs take notice, and their current lofty position is no fluke. They have been more than competitive, and while they may have come undone against their fellow top clubs in Spirit FC, Central Coast and Northern Tigers, they are yet to lose to any of those lower down the ladder. They will be wanting to keep that record going when Mounties visit on Saturday.
It is starting to look a bit dire for Mounties. As the season heads ever closer to the half way mark, only Sydney University remain close by in the table, with Mounties seven points behind third from bottom Fraser Park. Unless results turn around very soon, for both Mounties and Uni, it is looking increasingly likely that it might be a race in two for the wooden spoon.
Sydney University v Fraser Park, Saturday 7:30pm, Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Like Mounties, Sydney University need points badly. Three from twenty seven can’t do too much for the confidence although their performances have probably deserved better. Unfortunately, the loss of Forbes to the Rams won’t have helped their cause, the striker having been their top scorer this season. Where the goals will come from now remains to be seen.
Fraser Park still have two games in hand over most clubs so their tenth spot may yet prove to be a false one once those matches have been played. Still, they will need to get those points and if not, another tough second half of the season could be on the way. A visit to Uni is not the toughest fixture on current standings, but even so, nothing is guaranteed.
Spirit FC v Bankstown Berries, Sunday 3pm, Christie Park, Marsfield
Spirit had their lead reduced to two points after Central Coast’s win on Wednesday but retain a healthy lead over the chasing pack, nonetheless. They still look the dominant club at the moment, and the win at Lynwood Park was certainly noteworthy. How to get past that defence is the main question opposing coaches must be asking themselves, with only Sydney University, surprisingly given their position, the only team to have breached their backline twice.
This will be Spirit’s seventh home game of the season, which might suggest a tougher second half of the year is ahead, but then again, two wins, six points and a 4-0 goal record from their two away matches, sends other ideas.
Wally Savor is the next coach to have to work out how to get past Cunningham, Trimble and co. The aggressive Gerard Ouffoue may come in handy, but last season’s leading scorer has just two goals to date and has not yet reached last year’s heights. Despite this, he is the Berries’ equal top scorer and therein may lie the problem, Only Mounties and Uni have scored less so the Berries’ work will be cut out this week.
Northern Tigers v St George, Sunday 3pm, Mills Park, Asquith
Northern Tigers are in a bit of a mini-slump at the moment, after three losses and a draw in their past four league and cup games. Just one point from nine has seen the Tigers slip from top spot to fourth, and five points off the top in just a matter of a fortnight or so. Not an ideal situation for the Northern Suburbs club but one in which they will seek to remedy this coming Sunday. They have a strike force to be feared with Tai Smith and Liam McConaghy regularly getting amongst the goals this season, seven between them, so St George will need to be at the peak of their game here.
After serving his suspension against Bankstown City midweek, Daniell Zeleny returns to the backline and he is likely to be partnered by Emmanuel Elali, who has recovered from injury and took to the field against Bankstown City on Wednesday. The Saints took away a point from Jensen Park and they will probably be satisfied with that.
After a busy period, St George will be facing their fifth game in just sixteen days, a Western Sydney Wanderers-type schedule, so if nothing else, they will need fitness on their side.
Central Coast v Bankstown City, Sunday 3pm, Pluim Park, Lisarow
Central Coast are the closest challengers to Spirit FC as the head group start to draw away. A strong result at Macarthur on Wednesday has cemented the Coast in the top two and a win against the Lions on Sunday will really strengthen their position. Considering that the Coast have seven of their next nine games at Pluim Park, there should be cause for plenty of optimism for the second half of the season.
Bankstown City face a tough journey. They had much of the play against St George on Wednesday but couldn’t breach the Saints defence, the point though keeping the Lions in the five. They remain one of the strongest squads on paper, but with three draws now, the most of any club, those dropped points, especially at home, are not what the Lions need.
Wednesday 20 May
It might’ve ended scoreless at Jensen Park but that can be put down the heroics of keepers Dion Shaw and David Hamilton. Shaw saved superbly from Stevan Ilic just when the substitute looked certain to give St George a late lead, only minutes after Hamilton had saved point blank for the Saints.
The Lions almost took all three points in literally the final few seconds, as a late scramble saw the ball roll gently against the base of the post.
Bankstown City 0 v St George 0
Central Coast moved to within two points of Spirit FC with a dramatic 3-2 win over Macarthur Rams. A first half goal gave the Coast the lead via Joel Hardwick at the break before an own goal to Daniel Carrozza put the Coast two up. But the Rams fought back well, new signing Gavin Forbes pulling a goal back before Ryan Marchant drew the Rams level for 2-2.
The Coast claimed the points when Josh Bingham scored the winner, his sixth of the season.
Macarthur Rams 2 (Gavin Forbes, Ryan Marchant) v Central Coast 3 (Joel Hardwick, Daniel Carrozza o.g., Josh Bingham)
Source FNSW Website- by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter