There will be a number of key match ups as round 7 of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s kicks off this Saturday.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Bankstown City, Saturday 16 April, 7pm, Popondetta Park
STRUGGLING MT DRUITT Town Rangers host frontrunners Bankstown City at Popondetta Park on Saturday night in what is shaping as a classic David versus Goliath confrontation.
Bankstown share the competition lead with Sydney FC on 15 points, while Mt Druitt languish in last place on three points with Fraser Park.
“It doesn’t get any easier does it?” mused Mt Druitt coach Aidan Desmond, who last week watched his side get dumped by Northern Tigers 4-0. “We didn’t take our opportunities (against the Tigers) and when we pushed forward the game opened up, and they took their chances. That was the difference in the game.”
To have any chance against Bankstown, Desmond believes his side needs to improve their discipline and on-field organisation. “They’re a very, very good team, very disciplined, very structured, with good movement through the midfield,” Desmond said. “They’ve got strength and speed, so to beat that we’ve got to be structured and disciplined and make sure we do the little things right. They’re fantastic across the park.”
Led by a brilliant strike by Dean Bereveskos, Bankstown City last week put in a solid performance to defeat Spirit FC 3-0, a match coach Leo Carle said his side dominated and deserved to win.
But this weekend his team will face a Town Rangers side in an even more precarious position than the Spirit. “We’re expecting a difficult game,” Carle told Football NSW. “Two weeks ago they upset Mounties but then they lost to the Tigers last week, so they’ll be looking at getting back on track.
“The only way we’re going to beat them is to keep doing what we’re doing and exploit their weaknesses. We need to focus on the way we play and keep to our structures, making sure we keep building every week.”
When asked if his side would be complacent, Carle replied: “No chance at all. I’ve said it before, consistency is the key. We’ve started the season well and we’ve got to keep getting better every week. That’s what we strive for, there will be no complacency at all.”
Spirit FC v St George, Saturday 16 April, 7pm, Christie Park, Marsfield
SPIRIT FC AND St George clash at Christie Park this Saturday, giving both the opportunity to get their seasons back on track after last weekend suffering respective losses to front-runners Bankstown City and Sydney FC.
Spirit went down 3-0 to the Lions, while Saints suffered a 4-0 loss at home to a young and talented FC side that leads the competition on goal difference.
“It’s time to get back on the horse,” St George co-coach Nass Martino told Football NSW. “We were proud of our lads standing up and being accountable (against Sydney FC), considering all the injuries we’ve suffered in recent times. We were very proud.”
Indeed, St George kept FC at bay in the first half and were unlucky to concede a fortunitous goal in the 43rd minute, a moment that changed the momentum of a match that had been relatively even.
Saints are hoping to welcome back a couple of their senior players this weekend and Martino stressed that when they have something resembling a full quota of players, things will start to improve.
“It’s hard to take but it’s onwards and upwards, we’re coming along quite nicely,” he said. “We’ve had some good feedback from people who have watched our games. The possession stats were quite decent in the Sydney game; the first half especially. To improve, it’s all about tweaks now. It’s concentrating for 90 minutes, staying focused for 90 minutes, staying disciplined for 90 minutes.”
Martino expects Spirit to be robust and difficult to break down, a side that prides itself on its fitness and industry. “Spirit are going to be tough, they’re going to run,” Martino said. “They’re going to be fit, they’re going to be hard, they’re going to be physical. We’re going to have to take a hit or two and stick to the plan. Hopefully a couple more of the senior boys will come back. We’re going to have to roll our sleeves up and put in a shift.”
Meanwhile, Spirit coach Mark McCormick was happy with his side’s efforts in last week’s 3-0 loss to Bankstown City and despite the result and the team’s lowly position on the ladder, believed his side was just as good as most of the other teams in the competition.
Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, this should be a gripping battle between two sides desperate to climb the competition ladder.
Sydney FC v Macarthur Rams, Saturday 16 April, 7.45pm, Lambert Park, Leichhardt
LEAGUE LEADERS SYDNEY FC return to their Lambert Park home to face a resurgent Macarthur Rams side full of confidence after holding Western Sydney Wanderers to a 3-3 draw last Saturday.
FC on Saturday night outplayed St George 4-0 while Macarthur, after leading 2-0 at halftime, trailed Western Sydney 3-2 in injury time, before stealing an unlikely draw from their more fancied opponents.
Macarthur coach Lee Sterrey expects Sydney FC to be very much like the Wanderers: fleet-footed, technically gifted, skilful and very, very fit. “I haven’t seen Sydney FC play but I expect them to be at the same sort of level as the other A-League sides, quality players who play with commitment,” Sterrey told Football NSW. “They train four or five days a week so it’ll be a very difficult task to play away from home at Lambert against a good, young side. It’ll be a good hitout for us and a good test.”
So what does Macarthur have to do to foot it with the slick FC outfit?
“We have to match them, they won’t stop running, these young sides are quality young sides and if you drop your intensity or your work rate and commitment, they’ll hurt you,” Sterrey replied. “Last week we were up 2-0 at halftime (against the Wanderers) and within one minute of the second half we dropped our intensity and they hurt us straight away. That’s what Sydney FC will be like, so you’ve got to meet with their skills and mobility, which is always hard to hold. They’re young, they’re fit, you’ve got to match them in those areas, and you’ve got to take your chances.
“I’m hoping for a good result, but like everyone else, we’ve had a few injuries and a few problems but now we’re starting to get our full deck of cards together. After this weekend it’ll be onwards and upwards.”
Meanwhile, after seeing Macarthur in action and knowing that Sterrey will bring a disciplined gameplan to Leichhardt, Sydney FC coach Robbie Stanton is expecting the Rams to be a tough opponent. “I’ve had a look at Macarthur play and I know Lee Steerey’s a well-organised coach,” Stanton told Football NSW. “I think he’ll make sure that they’re tactically and strategically prepared for the match. I expect a tough encounter. They can score goals and they can defend well, because they drew with Marconi and they drew with the Wanderers so when you look at it from that perspective and what I know about Lee, I think they’ll be very tough opponents.
“All games in the premier league are tough and the next opponent’s the most difficult so again we have to be well prepared and fresh for the game. We aim to make little progressions week-in, week-out, and we’ve been achieving that. I’ve been quietly pleased with with the players.
“We certainly won‘t be taking the game lightly and when you’ve won five in a row, you’re closer to a loss, so we don’t want to let anything slip at this stage and we’ve prepared well. Hopefully we’ll do okay.”
Marconi v Fraser Park, Sunday 17 April, 3pm, Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
MARCONI COACH JEFF Suzor is confident his side can continue the momentum gained from last week’s 5-3 victory over Bankstown Berries, when they host Fraser Park at Marconi Stadium on Sunday.
“There are no easy games in this league and I think last week was the turning point in our season,” Suzor told Football NSW. “I think we’re the entertaining side of the league. Every time we play there’s something going on. Send-offs, penalties, 5-3, 4-3 scorelines, there’s never a dull moment. We know we have a great attack and can score goals, so if we get it right defensively, we win.”
Marconi currently lies in eighth position on the ladder and have this season scored 14 goals and conceded just as many. They face a Fraser Park side desperate to improve on last week’s 3-2 loss against North Shore Mariners, a performance coach Branko Culina described as “terrible”.
“Fraser Park has got the most experienced coach in the league so I expect them to be very well organised, very well structured and to have some sort of gameplan,” Suzor said. “But we need to focus on our own game and not pay too much attention to the opposition. We just need to stick to our defensive structure that we’ve been working on and play the attacking football that we’ve been doing. Even the games that we’ve lost we haven’t had any trouble scoring goals.”
Culina meanwhile, is still smarting from last week’s 3-2 loss to North Shore Mariners and he’s hoping that performance was just a one-off, an anomaly.
“We can’t play as badly as we did last week against North Shore Mariners,” Culina told Football NSW. “I’m looking for the players to lift and produce a much better performance. And we need to, we need to win games if we’re going to make something out of our season.”
In bad news for the club, Kevin Oliveria is out with a knee injury for around three months and David Talone faces two weeks on the sidelines. The club is also awaiting a clearance for Nikola Todoroski from Macedonia.
“We’re short on numbers and it restricts our options,” Culina said. “It’s difficult but that’s where we are and they’re the cards we’ve been dealt, so no excuses, we’ve just got to make sure that those players that are available do the job.
“I’ve seen Marconi play this season and they’ve got excellent individuals but it’s a matter of whether they can put it together collectively. I’ve coached some of those players - Pavlovic, Rooney, Giannaros and Jesic. They’re all excellent players, they should be playing A-League rather than this level. But for whatever reasons they are where they are. Marconi is one of those teams that at the start of the season you would’ve thought would be fighting for the premiership or championship.
“But still I’m confident that the boys will lift because they were very, very good against Central Coast a fortnight ago, and even better in the FFA Cup against Bonnyrigg. Then to perform the way they did against North Shore was out of character, at least in the short time I’ve been at the club. I’m expecting a much improved performance and one that hopefully will give us a favourable result.”
North Shore Mariners v Central Coast Mariners, Sunday 17 April, 3pm, Northbridge Oval
THE TWO MARINERS sides clash at Northbridge Oval on Sunday and given their respective positions on the table and the close relationship between the clubs, this should be a quality, entertaining fixture.
North Shore last week toppled Fraser Park 3-2 in a closely fought match, while Central Coast let a 2-0 halftime lead slip before stealing a 3-2 victory over Mounties Wanderers.
“Central Coast is a good, youthful football side,” North Shore Mariners coach Joe Haywood told Football NSW. “I coached a lot of their boys in the national youth league team so I know them well; I know the program and I’m looking forward to a good football game between two teams trying to play with a structured buildup from the back, and trying to play through midfield. It should be an entertaining game of football.”
When asked what his side needed to do to defeat Central Coast, Haywood replied: “We’ve got to play better football than we have been. They’re going to come and try to press us and play football, so we’ve got to try to press them and play football. I think tactics will come into play, and we’ll have two young groups trying to combat each other.”
Apart from the game, Haywood also suggested that the clash was an excellent opportunity for the Central Coast Mariners to showcase to the local community what the Mariners can provide for young footballers as a pathway to the A-League.
Northern Mariners are one of the few teams in the league that has the luxury of approaching Round 7 injury free and while they made a few changes to the side that beat Normanhurst 4-0 in an FFA Cup tie on Wednesday night, Haywood confirmed: “injuries are okay so far, bodies are good, squads are good. We’re ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Central Coast Mariners’ coach Ben Cahn noted the similarities between the two teams and, like his North Shore counterpart, expected a good game of football.
“We’re overseen by the same technical director, we know that both sides have similar playing styles, we share resources, there’s not too much that we don’t know about each other,” Cahn told Football NSW. “They’ll know more about us, they follow us in the draw, so they’ve seen all our videos and have probably watched every game we’ve played this year, whereas we haven’t had that opportunity. It’s probably a fortunate position for them to be in.
“The most important thing though is the development of the players in both squads, and giving them pathways. We’re working together to do that and hopefully it’s a competitive game where there’s lots of good players on show who get to test each other.”
Mounties Wanderers v Northern Tigers, Sunday 17 April, 3pm, Valentine Sports Park, Glenwood
MOUNTIES SUFFERED A 3-2 loss to Central Coast Mariners last weekend and will be looking to bounce back when they face a resurgent Northern Tigers at Valentine Sports Park this Sunday.
Both sides are in good position on the ladder, with Mounties just two points ahead the Tigers in fourth place.
Mounties coach David Perkovic said the Tigers are always a very competitive team and he expects nothing more than a spirited match at a facility both sides call home. “They’re certainly a well-structured team and we will need to be the same,” Perkovic told Football NSW. “We also have to be a little bit more enterprising going forward to minimise the kind of mistakes that cost us against Central Coast last weekend. If we can keep our mistakes to a minimum, we should have enough quality to overcome our opponents.”
Perkovic said that with several players sidelined by injury, he has relied on a number of Under-20 players to plug the gaps. Unfortunately, inexperience cost them against the Mariners. “Inexerienced players sometimes make mistakes and against Central Coast last week we coughed up possession playing out from the back twice in the first 20 minutes, pretty much gifting them the first two goals,” Perkovic said. “So it was always going to be a challenge getting back into the game against a decent side like the Mariners. We managed to come back and I felt that we created way more goal-scoring opportunties than they did. Our work ethic was there, unlike when we played Mt Druitt the previous week, so I can’t fault the boys in that sense. As long as our work ethic is there and we minimise our mistakes we should do much better against the Tigers this weekend.”
Meanwhile, Northern Tigers face their own injury dramas, with 20 per cent of their team out for the whole season.
“We’re still down in numbers big time,” coach Steve Hurd told Football NSW. “We’ve lost Rob Carollo (back), Dan Stuart (multiple ankle fractures) and Dan Drakopoulos (knee) for the season; Keenan Gibson has relocated to Melbourne, and skipper Mike Rolston, tore a muscle in his foot in Round 2 and will be in a boot for at least another month. Hopefully he’ll be back around the halfway stage of the competition. The transfer window can’t come quickly enough for us.”
Like their opponents, the Tigers have had to dig deep into the Under-20s but despite being thrown into the deep end, Hurd said “the lads who have come in have done their jobs really, really well.”
“Mounties will be tough,” Hurd said. “It’ll be about who performs best on the day.”
Western Sydney Wanderers v Bankstown Berries, Sunday 17 April, 7pm, Popondetta Park
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS host Bankstown Berries at Popondetta Park on Sunday night and will be looking to bounce back to the winners’ circle after being held to a draw at Macarthur.
Berries coach Rod Williams, who watched his side concede five goals in a 5-3 defeat to Marconi last Satirday, knows they face an uphill battle against one of the gun teams in the competition.
“Western Sydney Wanderers is a professional setup as opposed to our side, which consists of players who work during the day and then train in the evenings. At the end of the day, we’ve got to try to compete with a level of player that’s probably two times higher than the level he’s playing at. If you stuck them in NPL 1, they’d hold their own with the top 2 or three sides. Maybe not from a physical perspective, but definitely from a technical standpoint.
“I coached APIA to second place in NPL 1 last year and I can tell you now that that Wanderers side would definitely give APIA a run for its money. They’re a very well drilled side and a side I predict will probably get promoted. Unlike the non A-League clubs, these clubs are not results orientated, with (Wanderers coach) Trevor (Morgan) focused on development and assisting the first team, by nurturing and bringing through players. But to be fair they’ve got a calibre of players that NPL 2 hasn’t seen before and this is a very, very good competition. Having the addition of both the Wanderers and Sydney FC has strengthened the compeition no end.”
So what do the Berries have to do to beat the Wanderers?
“Since I’ve been here we’ve scored more than two goals a game but are again leaking roughly about three goals a game, so obviously we’ve been working a little bit more on our defensive duties and trying to make sure we’re a bit tighter and not so lacksadaisical at the back.
“The problem with our side is we tend to do things for 60-70 minutes, and the game unfortnately goes for 90. In those last 20 minutes teams can hurt you and that’s exactly whats been happening.
“The Wanderers are a very, very good side, but on our day, we have the ability to match it with most teams. That 5-3 scoreline against Marconi the other day wasn’t a true indication of what really went on. Against North Shore Mariners we were leading 2-0 and dominated the first hour, but they brought two players on and we couldn’t maintain our intensity and lost 3-2.
“Thankfully we’re now injury free and we’ve got a full squad, everybody’s battling for places but we just need to tidy a few things up and we’ll be okay.
“We’ve got some ability around the squad but again it’s having the belief that they can do the job and to be able to do it for 90 minutes.”
Source FNSW- By Derek Royal