This week’s feature game takes us north to Pluim Park to see title chasing Central Coast up against finals chasing St George.
Central Coast v St George Sunday 3pm Pluim Park, Lisarow
Central Coast and St George are coming off losses last weekend, with the result that gaps appeared for both in their respective league positions. Central Coast were only two points behind Spirit heading into last weekend but now find themselves six points adrift, in what seems a blink of an eye. St George, only a point out of the five before last Saturday, are now four points behind fifth placed Northern Tigers.
Those results sets up this game to be a fine contest. Neither can afford to drop points again so soon with plenty of clubs ready to take advantage should further lapses occur. With the Coast set to face Spirit in a fortnight, they will prefer to still be within touching distance heading into that match and a win here will be imperative. St George have their eye on the finals but with three chasing clubs all within one point, they have their own reason for needing the three points.
Fraser Park v Spirit FC Saturday 7:30pm Fraser Park, Sydenham
Prior to Wednesday, Fraser Park had been the only team to take any points away from Spirit FC this season, and after defeating the Berries on Wednesday night, they will be keen to continue their rise up the table. They are now equal with St George in sixth with a game in hand still and this is the first time this season that they have gone two games without losing. How they match up against Spirit now, and whether they can repeat that round two result, will keep observers interested on Saturday night.
Spirit’s winning run was ended against Mount Druitt Town Rangers on Wednesday, but they increased their lead to six points nonetheless. It was only the second time this season they were kept scoreless, the other against Fraser Park of course, in that defeat. It will be tough for Fraser, as Spirit are clearly the competition’s best. Equal top scorers and an outstanding defence says it all.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Sydney University Saturday 7:30pm Hensley Field, Pagewood
Is there a Uni revival on the way? Seemingly down and almost out, some crucial signings over the past fortnight may just be the tonic needed. There wouldn’t have been too many who would have predicted a Uni win over Central Coast on Saturday but the 3-1 result certainly raised eyebrows. Some experienced players may just do the trick for Uni, and what better way to show that the tide may have turned when they visit their old haunt of Hensley Field this weekend. Their opponents Hakoah Sydney City East gave Uni their biggest defeat of the season back in round two, so there are six reasons why Uni will want to turn the tables on Saturday.
Hakoah are steady in fourth, having dropped below Mount Druitt Town after last weekend. They will be without Bradley Walker and Michael Randall who were both sent off against Fraser Park which won’t help Hakoah’s cause. But with three wins and three draws from their past six games, Hakoah are nothing if not consistent.
Macarthur Rams v Bankstown Berries Saturday 7:30pm Lynwood Park, St Helens Park
After five games without a win, Macarthur Rams finally got back to winning ways last Saturday and will look to continue that turnaround against Bankstown Berries this weekend. Surprisingly though, they have won only two games at Lynwood Park this season and so the Berries may fancy their chances this week. It was a 2-2 draw in the previous matchup, in a game played at Parklea, but following the Berries’ midweek loss against Fraser Park, it will require a turnaround of their own if they are to take away any points.
Amazingly, the Berries have lost six in a row, and have dropped to tenth. They will take heart from the return of Dimitri Zakilas, a former Golden Boot winner of course, and who showed some nice touches on Wednesday night.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Bankstown City Saturday 7:30pm Popondetta Park, Emerton
Mount Druitt Town Rangers are in great form at the moment and have not lost since late April. They became only the second club to take something off Spirit after drawing on Wednesday night, and the point earned moves them to within two points of Central Coast. They are flying high and the confidence being accumulated each week is invaluable. Rangers even allowed Shayne Ardle to move across to Parramatta FC last week, so clearly they have no concerns about their squad depth.
The Lions have another difficult task this weekend after what has been a tough schedule. They have had three losses in a row now, against three of the top four in Central Coast, Hakoah Sydney City East and Spirit FC. They now meet the other leading team in Rangers. It will be a tricky visit to Popondetta Park, although Bankstown will be able to call on the services of Michael Beauchamp, who returns after suspension. Beauchamp will clearly help to shore up a defence which has conceded five in the past two games, when they had only let in nine in the previous ten matches.
Northern Tigers v Mounties Wanderers, Sunday 3pm Mills Park, Asquith
Northern Tigers return to Mills Park after a fortnight away and while their home form hasn’t been the greatest this year, with more losses than wins, they hope that last’s week victory at the Berries is a sign that their form may have turned. They remain fifth with a four point buffer now and having scored four last Saturday, after two weeks in which they failed to find the net, it may be looking up for the Tigers.
The same can’t be said for Mounties Wanderers, who continue to mystify, and linger at the bottom. Nothing seems to be going right and they even failed to keep eleven on the park last round. Daine Merrin will be out for this visit but hopefully for the Mounties, Neftali Gonzalez will continue to show his good form of recent weeks.
Fraser Park v Bankstown Berries
A first half goal to Hussein Akil, his eighth of the season, was enough to help a depleted Fraser Park take away the three points from this rescheduled round six clash. The first half near-post header, from a Adem Kir corner, came in the 36th minute and despite Fraser Park being reduced to ten men after David Talone was sent from the field ten minutes into the second half, they were able to maintain the lead for the remainder of the game.
Pat Cappuccio did have the chance to seal the result a couple of minutes from time but Michael Frost saved well while Dimitri Zakilas almost rescued the game for the Berries right at the death but was just wide.
Fraser Park 1 (Hussein Akil 36’) v Bankstown Berries 0
Fraser Park: 1. Wayne Estavao 3. Davide Talone 4. Alexander Veljanovski 5. Nicholas Dimitripoulos 6. Suad Ameti 8. Hussein Akil (11. Stefan Jovanovic 90’) 9. Jeffrey Issa (13. Pat Cappuccio 84’) 12. Adem Kir (10. Paulo Oliviera 84’) 15. Rocci Gabey 17. Nikola Todoroski 18. Aleksandar Todoroski.
Subs not used: 22. Riley Keayes
Bankstown Berries: 1. Michael Frost 2. David Burbridge (18. Matthew Trotter 46’) 3. Liam McKenna 5. Joseph Savor 7. Kyle Ewart 8. Thomas Taylor 10. Jun Kato (Nicholas Paras 72’) 11. Joel Anscomb (22. Jake Bradshaw 74’) 12. Mitchell Davidson 16. Milan Zoric 19. Dimitri Zakilas.
Subs not used: 6. Shivan Swamy 42. Jake Senior
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Spirit FC
It was 0-0 at Popondetta Park as Spirit’s grand winning sequence came to an end. It was bound to happen at some stage, and no surprise it came away against a team challenging near the top of the table. Spirit move further ahead, six clear now of Central Coast while the Rangers set up a two point buffer in third.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers 0 v Spirit FC 0
Source FNSW Website-by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter