With five clubs effectively fighting for one spot, we again look at the race for the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s 2 semis, with a feature visit to Sydenham to see Fraser Park face Mounties Wanderers.
It will be a busy Sunday with four games, with plenty of eyes also keeping watch on events at Mills Park where Northern Tigers meet Hakoah Sydney City East and at Christie Park, where Spirit FC continue their chase for their first title since 2008.
Fraser Park v Mounties Wanderers Sunday 3pm Fraser Park Sydenham
Fraser Park hang on to fifth by their fingertips but there is a plethora of clubs who are ready to pounce should they slip up. One point from their past two games has kept them in the pack and they can ill afford further dropped points here. They will look to the league’s leading scorer Hussein Akil to knock in another goal, while Nikola Todoroski has also been getting amongst the goals recently. It was Fraser who provided Mounties with their first win not too long ago so they will be more than keen to overturn that result on Sunday.
Mounties have had a great fortnight, winning two from two and picking up some invaluable club championship points at the same time. But while they can certainly breathe a little easier, they are not out of the woods yet and with Sydney University coming up next week, a point or three here may make all the difference.
Sydney University v Bankstown Berries Saturday 7:30pm Lambert Park Leichhardt
The race for the five shows no signs of letting up. Barring a major collapse from either the Coast, Hakoah or Northern Tigers, only one position remains to be filled with five rounds to go. Bankstown Berries fought out a draw last week with one of their fellow challengers, and while this week they travel to bottom placed Sydney University, the task is not likely to be any easier. And with a very difficult draw coming up for the Berries, with Central Coast, Hakoah and Spirit the next to play, before finishing at Mount Druitt Town Rangers, it is imperative that three points is gained this Saturday. They will have the luxury of a returning top scorer, with Nicholas Paras again available, while defender Liam McKenna returns from suspension.
Sydney University remain bottom and are fast running out of games. Two consecutive losses damaged their brief run of good results but in their favour is a final run in in which they avoid all of the top four clubs, and with three matches at home, they are definitely still in with a shout of avoiding the wooden spoon.
St George v Bankstown City Saturday 7:30pm St George Stadium Kyeemagh
Both St George and Bankstown City were out of action last week, so they enter this one with some fresh legs. For the Saints, they also enter with a new coach, with Mark Abi-Arrage taking over in a caretaker role for the rest of the season, following the decision of David Perkovic to leave, after the loss to Mounties. How St George react remains to be seen, but with only Sydney University behind them on the club championship table, there is little option that some wins will need to come fast.
The Lions remain strong challengers for fifth, even if they still haven’t found that consistency. But as the only contender with a positive goal difference, and a healthy one at that, they may consider themselves the slight favourites to take that final spot. They don’t concede many, having only lost one game this season by a margin of two goals, and average just the one against per game. But it is those single goal losses which have cost them dearly. And with Hakoah and Central Coast as their final two games, the Lions won’t want to leave St George Stadium empty handed.
Northern Tigers v Hakoah Sydney City East Sunday 3pm Mills Park Asquith
It doesn’t get much better than this for Tigers fans. A win away against Central Coast last weekend and Hakoah and Spirit to visit in the next fortnight. Good football should be on show and if the results go their way, a late title challenge may not be out of the question. Unbeaten since round ten, the Tigers have rattled off the results to be just one goal shy of second placed Central Coast. The goals have been shared around this season too, with ten individual players all scoring, but it is to Tai Smith, on the fourth line of the Golden Boot with eight goals, and Liam McConaghy with five, that the Tigers will look to predominantly.
Hakoah, of course, have their own major marksman in Neil Jablonski. One goal ahead of Smith, on nine, Jablonski is always likely to pop up at the most opportune time. And there won’t be any better time than this week, with Hakoah well in the hunt for this season’s honours. With a game in hand over the Tigers and Central Coast, a win here will give slight advantage to Hakoah. There will plenty of focus on the 18s and 20s too, as Club Championship points go on the line.
Central Coast v Macarthur Rams Sunday 3pm Pluim Park Lisarow
Central Coast welcome Macarthur Rams to Pluim Park for what will be their second last home game of the season. It hasn’t gone as planned recently for the Coast who have lost three of their past four, losing the advantage in the Club Championship in the process, as well as slipping in the title race. Victory against the Rams will go some way to restoring their position, and they will keep a keen eye on results not too far away. A clean sweep at Pluim will definitely be on the agenda.
The Rams may have other ideas of course. Still in the hunt for the semis, and with their 18s top of the league, they will have more than a say. But they don’t have too much room to move, anything less than a win putting them in grave danger of missing the cut. With their final matches including games against Spirit, Tigers and Hakoah, it will still be a tough ask.
Spirit FC v Mount Druitt Town Rangers Sunday 3pm Christie Park Marsfield
Spirit were one of the winners last week without even playing. The loss by Central Coast helped maintain Spirit’s six point gap and now, with the game in hand, they will have the opportunity to extend that margin at a later date. What the Coast have done though is allow a third club to enter the fray, with Northern Tigers also now a direct threat. Add in Hakoah, just a point further back, and it is not over yet, although Spirit are in the driving seat. With a visit to Mills Park next round, Spirit will want nothing less than the three points against Mount Druitt Town Rangers this week and they will have high hopes on Abraham Majok getting amongst the goals again, the speedy striker having risen to nine goals so far this season, only Fraser Park’s Hussein Akil ahead in the race for the Golden Boot.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers may have lost four in a row but remarkably, they remain just a point out of fifth, with a game in hand. They have difficult fixtures ahead though, with all but one game against direct rivals for the finals. This will be one of the toughest games, but having held Spirit scoreless just six weeks ago, they will be confident that they can do the same again.
Source FNSW Website-by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter