Round Eleven of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW sees fixtures spread over the weekend with a couple of Sunday evening matches providing a later than normal finish to the round’s activities.
Our Match of the Round will take us to Christie Park on Saturday to see whether Spirit FC can make it two from two when they meet Central Coast Mariners.
Spirit FC v Central Coast Mariners Saturday 7pm Christie Park, Marsfield
Last season, this corresponding fixture was a top of the table clash but the circumstances have changed since. It doesn’t make it any less important though as, rather than chasing a title, Spirit will continue to work for points to take them away from the relegation zone. Last weekend’s win at Fraser Park could hardly have been more important and to build on that victory with be the task against the Mariners. Hopefully for the Christie Park faithful, last week’s three points will just be the start.
Central Coast went down 4-0 to Sydney FC, though they were far from the first to suffer such a loss. It was only the second time this season that they were kept scoreless, something they will seek to amend this Sunday. The record between the two clubs is close, a win, a draw and a loss for each in the past three meetings at Marsfield. While the Mariners will go into this one as favourites, Spirit may just live up to their name.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Fraser Park Saturday 7pm Popondetta Park, Emerton
Two of the teams in the lower reaches come face to face at Popondetta Park, although Mount Druitt Town Rangers would be the ones feeling slightly less uncomfortable at the moment. With two wins and a draw from their past three, they have form on their side heading into this match. Unfortunately for Fraser Park, the results just haven’t been forthcoming as yet, and they are on a five game losing streak.
They just need that ounce of luck, before the gap at the bottom gets too great. Their defensive effort was an improvement last week and more of the same will be the order of the night at Popondetta.
Northern Tigers v Bankstown Berries Saturday 7pm Valentine Sports Park No 2, Glenwood
Last season’s champions are finding the going a little bit tougher this year. Their inconsistent season continued with a loss to Macarthur Rams last weekend and apart from successive victories in the first two games, their results have been up and down ever since. The Tigers are rarely down for long though, and despite those topsy turvy results, they are still only three points off fourth. Liam McConaghy, top scorer thus far, has notched a healthy six goals including one last weekend. If he continues to find the back of the net, things should look up for the Tigers.
Bankstown Berries have a big week ahead of them. Following this match, they have the chance to get into the final 32 of the Westfield FFA Cup when they meet Marconi next Wednesday. Such an achievement would be appreciated by the club but firstly, they will want to pick up league points this Saturday. Results have improved since keeper Tonu Liiband arrived at The Crest from APIA, undefeated in fact, two wins and a draw across both league and cup doing much to increase confidence. Leading scorer Nicholas Paras will be out for this match, the first of a two game suspension.
Sydney FC v North Shore Mariners Saturday 7:45pm Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Sydney FC will strive to make it ten wins in a row when they tackle North Shore Mariners. They have comfortably won as each week has gone by, round one excepted, and with a massive forty one goals to their name so far, such dominance appears likely to continue. They remain just two points ahead of second though, despite their record, so there is still no margin for complacency. They will need to keep collecting those victories, especially with the Western Sydney Wanderers clash not too far over the horizon.
North Shore Mariners almost claimed a special point on Sunday, only conceding one goal against WSW, and that with just a quarter of an hour left. One thing that North Shore has shown is that they have plenty of resilience and they have done well so far in their first season in this league. They were kept scoreless last Sunday, a rare occurrence, though they will have to be at their best to notch one against the leaders.
Mounties Wanderers v St George Sunday 3pm Valentine Sports Park No 2, Glenwood
Mounties came very close to taking something away from Marconi last weekend, a couple of defensive slips costing plenty, but they can still take a lot of confidence away from their performance. With the skilful Neftali Gonzalez directing play in midfield and Matthew West always looking, and likely, to score, they have every reason to feel that they can get back on track this weekend. With Patrick Gatt and Wade Oostendorp solid at the back, they are strong across the park, and St George will need to be at their best to not go home empty handed.
But if the Saints can put in a performance like they did last weekend, that is not out of the question. Still depleted, including having lost Sam Cornish and Alexander McCracken to season ending injuries, they have had to reshuffle regularly over the past month. Stevan Ilic, out injured against Bankstown City, may return this week, otherwise we may see the diminutive Bruno Pivato up front again, to great effect it must be said. Either way, a competitive game is in store.
Bankstown City v Macarthur Rams Sunday 7pm Jensen Park, Sefton
After suffering just their second defeat of the season, Bankstown City will look to recover as quickly as possible when they entertain Macarthur Rams in a late kick off on Sunday. Somewhat surprisingly they conceded four last weekend, half of their season’s total to that time, but even a man short, it still would not have been predicted. They have the class to get back on track immediately but they will have to do so without Chris Gomez, sent off against the Saints.
Macarthur will want to try and replicate their home form on the road. Unfortunately for the Rams, Jensen Park is one of the harder places to take away points so even a draw may satisfy the team from the south west. While Macarthur have yet to combine two wins together this year, only Sydney FC have damaged the Rams to any great extent, and previous draws against Marconi and Western Sydney Wanderers show that they will give the Lions plenty to think about.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Marconi Sunday 7pm Popondetta Park, Emerton
This is turning out to be a fixture of great interest. After taking a month to find their way, Marconi have started to hit their straps now and they are sure to give the Wanderers a tough game come Sunday. The trio of big name summer signings are making an impression with Sean Rooney and Mirjan Pavlovic both getting amongst the goals recently while Marko Jesic, also with eight, may make a return after missing last week’s match against Mounties, having come off in the FFA Cup the previous Wednesday. Christopher Nunes also put in a great shift last Sunday, Chad Taylor in goals was superb, so there is plenty to keep Western Sydney thinking.
The Wanderers may not have been as high scoring as Sydney FC, but they have kept the pressure on the leaders all the same. They have maintained a winning momentum, four in a row now, although they had to rely on Lachlan Scott’s sole goal to defeat North Shore Mariners. Marconi will be a difficult opponent especially as they are starting to hit form.
Source FNSW-by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men's Reporter