Round 5 of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition features six Saturday games, including the match of the round between Fraser Park and Central Coast Mariners; while on Sunday, Marconi hosts Macarthur Rams.
Fraser Park FCvs Central Coast Mariners, Saturday 7pm, Fraser Park, Marrickville
Despite their position near the foot of the table, Fraser Park has played well in their last two outings: a 1-0 defeat to the Bankstown Berries, and last weekend’s 2-1 loss to second-placed Mounties. “We’ve actually played really well in our last two games,” coach Branko Culina told Football NSW. “When we played Mounties, if you didn’t know our respective positions on the table, you would never have guessed that they were second and we were second-last because the match was so even.”
Central Coast meanwhile, finds itself in the middle of a three-match winning streak, remarkable considering the horrendous injury toll that has befallen the club, with 11 players unavailable across three grades. It’s for this reason and perhaps the unenviable reputation lumped on Fraser Park’s home ground,that the clubs’ respective positions on the ladder will mean little come Saturday night.
On paper, the young Coasters could make light work of their modest opponents. But football isn’t played on paper, so given the variables, anything is possible. Can Culina’s charisma and optimism provide the spark to his club’s first win of the season? Or will the rampant, yet inexperienced kids from Gosford continue on their merry way?
Sydney FC vs Bankstown City, Saturday 7.45pm, Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Bankstown City coach Leo Carle was happy with his side’s dominant performance against Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend, but he’ll be hoping they’re more accurate in front of goal when they take on Sydney FC in Saturday night’s blockbuster at Lambert Park. Led by speedy Huseyin Jasli’s dangerous forays down the left flank, the Lions created numerous goal-scoring opportunities only for poor finishing to let the side down.
Meanwhile, Sydney FC’s youth brigade has adapted well to the rigours of adult competition, winning three from four and topping the league’s goal-scoring charts with 15.
“We’re starting to adapt our game to the competition,” FC coach Robert Stanton told Football NSW. “We’ve adjusted well and the players have had to make good decisions on the park. They’re getting used to it and they’re doing well collectively. I’m reasonably happy.”
Stanton is also impressed by what he has seen of Bankstown City.
“They’re quite a strong team, pretty solid all over the park, they’ll be a very good test for us and we’re looking forward to it.
“Against Bankstown you need to defend well, thay’re quite good in transition and they’ve got some good players all over the park that can hurt you. They have plenty of experience, and some great leaders. For us to get a result we have to play at the best of our ability, we have to defend well as well as create and take our chances. I think we’ll have to defend even better than what we’ve done in the past.”
Western Sydney Wanderers vs St George, Saturday 7pm, Blacktown Football Park, Rooty Hill
Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan was pleased with his side’s gutsy effort in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Bankstown City, but he’ll be eager to get his youngsters back on the winning trail when on Saturday they host St George at Blacktown Football Park. The young Wanderers were taught a valuable lesson by an experienced and robust Lions side whose physicality and commitment ended the youngsters’ impressive three-match winning streak. Despite this, the Wanderers played with plenty of spirit until the final whistle and in injury time, were unlucky not to snatch an equaliser.
St George will need to show more discipline than they did in last week’s topsy turvy 4-3 victory over Marconi, especially against a side as dangerous and well-drilled as the Wanderers.
“The Wanderers are a very good outfit,” Saints’ co-coach Nass Martino told Football NSW. “And they’re going to be tough. They’ve been selected by the Wanderers for a reason and I have a lot of respect for their coach, Trevor Morgan.
“We’ve got a few injuries as well so it’s not going to be easy on our part. All (co-coach) Ivo (De Jesus) and I can ask of the team is ‘do your best’. Stay focused, stay disciplined, stay concentrated as best we can. They’re the three things we need to do (to win).”
Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC vs Mounties Wanderers, Saturday 7pm, Popondetta Park, Emerton
Mounties last week continued their impressive start to the season with a narrow 2-1 victory over Fraser Park, and they’ll be looking to extend their unbeaten record to five matches when on Saturday they visit bottom-placed Mt Druitt Town Rangers.
Mounties coach David Perkovic told Football NSW that while his side has enjoyed a good start to the season in terms of results, their football was nowhere near where he wants it to be. “Our defensive structure has paved the way to where we are at the moment,” Perkovic said. “And we’ve definitely proved that we’re a side that can win games, but we’re looking for improvement to be a more varied side moving forward.”
Mounties’ visit to Popondetta Park will be their third successive match against a winless team, but Perkovic expects Mt Druitt to be desperate to break through for their maiden win of the season. “I expect them to come out firing and to try and battle to grind out a result in some way or another. If we can keep our defensive structure and improve a little bit in terms of our performance on the ball, then that will go a long way towards winning the game.”
Bankstown Berries vs North Shore Mariners, Saturday 7pm, Crest Athletic Centre, Georges Hall
The Berries’ topsy turvy season continued last weekend when, under caretaker coach Robert Halmat, they succumbed to a white-hot Central Coast Mariners 3-1.
“It has been a disappointing season because with the players we’ve got we should be doing better,” Halmat told Football NSW. “We’ve had injuries and that’s probably why we’ve had a hot and cold start (to the season).” Halmat, who was replaced by Rod Williams on Wednesday night after just a week in the hot-seat, was expecting this week’s game against North Shore Mariners to be similar to last week’s clash against Central Coast, a side he said were “well drilled and on fire”.
“We’ll make a couple of positional changes (for this week’s game) and expect a big improvement. But to win, we need to start playing from the beginning. Most of our games we’ve had slow starts, forcing us to play catch-up football.”
North Shore Mariners sit three places below the Berries in 12th place on the ladder with just one point from a possible 12. Both sides will be desperate to take home the points in order to climb the ladder.
Spirit FC vs Northern Tigers, Saturday 7pm, Christie Park, Marsfield
Spirit FC has so far this season been battered from pillar to post, a horror draw seeing them concede six each against Western Sydney and Sydney FC, plus a 2-1 reversal to second-placed Mounties. But last week the celebrations could be heard far and wide as the boys from Marsfield snuck home 1-0 against bottom-placed Mt Druitt Town Rangers.
Spirit will this weekend host a Northern Tigers outfit that has been rocked by consecutive defeats for the first time in ages. That those defeats were at the hands of contenders Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC, doesn’t make them any less painful to coach Steve Hurd and his erstwhile team. To stay within striking distance of the leading pack, the Tigers need to put the sword to a Spirit side that, while high from their maiden victory, also has the dubious distinction of boasting the leakiest defence in the competition.
Marconi Stallions vs Macarthur Rams, Sunday 3pm, Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Marconi coach Jeff Suzor is disappointed with his side’s poor run this season but despite conceding 10 goals and winning just one game, he’s conifident the side’s fortunes are about to change for the better.
“It’s a brand new team and it’s a long season and it takes time for a team to gel,” Suzor told Football NSW. “Each week we’re getting there, it’s just a matter of now putting in a 90 minute performance. The results will start to change, we’ve got too much quality for them not to.”
As always, Macarthur will be tough. Marconi legend and Rams coach Lee Sterrey returns to his old stomping ground with a side that will be well-coached, well-structured and well-disciplined. A side that makes life difficult for the opposition and knows how to grind out a win.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Suzor said. “We need to eliminate the mistakes that have crept into our game over the last three weeks and convert our chances. If we do that, we win.
“Obviously we’ve conceded eight goals in the last two weeks, so the focus this week will be on our defensive structure. If you score three goals as we have in our last two games, you expect to win. Our quality is in the front third - Sean Rooney, Pavlovic and Yesic are absolute quality. We’ll keep creating chances, and we need to take those chances but it’s the other end of the park that we need to work on.”
Source FNSW-By Derek Royal