As the Play Station 4 National Premier Leagues NSW 2 competition hits the half way mark, there is one fixture which stands out a country mile.
Our cameras head to Lambert Park for the Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers matchup.
Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers Saturday 2pm Lambert Park, Leichhardt
The top of the table clash holds much in store with just one point separating Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers and a juicy matchup is in prospect. They are the leading scorers in the competition having found the net forty six and thirty eight times respectively while they also harbour the best defences with the Wanderers slightly ahead having conceded an average of one goal a game with Sydney FC just a fraction worse. Not much between them and plenty to look forward to. It is not too hard to see where the threats lay. The Sky Blues’ Charles Lokolingoy and Bai Antoniou have shared a massive twenty nine goals between them while the Wanderers’ Lachlan Scott has found the back of the net fourteen times alone. Plenty of firepower up front then and whether the respective defences can keep them at bay will be one of the main features of the afternoon.
*Please refer to the Football NSW website for ticket requirements to this match
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v North Shore Mariners Saturday 7pm Popondetta Park, Emerton
Mt Druitt Town are on something of a roll at the moment, being undefeated now in five games. A worthy victory against Central Coast Mariners, albeit against ten men, has set them up nicely for the other Mariners, North Shore, when they travel to Popondetta Park. Once more Kuag Reec was on the scoresheet last weekend, having now scored three weeks on end, a great return.
North Shore wouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge that they pinched the full three points against Spirit last week but as a warning to opposition sides, it just shows that North Shore aren’t down until the final whistle blows. Solid results all season has shown that North Shore can match it at this level, as many have found, and they are never to be taken lightly.
Spirit FC v Marconi Saturday 7pm Christie Park, Marsfield
Despite last week’s loss, Spirit will take great comfort from their performance which really should have garnered them some points at least. The inclusion of Reuben Agyei-Danso and the return of Jake Harris made a noticeable difference in the attacking third and it seemed the old spark from lastseason had started to return. They will face tough opposition in Marconi but a climb up the table doesn’t seem too far away if last week is any guide. Marconi handed Sydney FC a rare defeat with a couple of late goals and will front up at Christie Parkhoping to continue with their fine run. This is the first of four away games in a row for the Stallions, a small Contiki tour of grounds rarely visited by Marconi previously, if at all. Eight league games without defeat now, plus Cup games for good measure, sees Marconi as one of the form teams of the competition. Three points from Marsfield will be the aim.
St George v Bankstown Berries Saturday 7pm St George Stadium, Kyeemagh
Traditionally, there is very little between these two sides when the Saints and Berries meet. In ten matches over the past five years, in all competitions, the Berries have slight advantage with three wins to St George’s two victories while five have been draws. And only twice has the margin been greater than one goal so if nothing else, another tight and close game should be in store.
Interestingly, it was against the Berries back in 2011 that St George co-coach Ivo de Jesus, then at the Saints as a player, played the final match of his career. Unfortunately for de Jesus, he was on the end of a 3-2 defeat in an elimination final at Lidcombe Oval. Now back at the club after five years, just maybe the memory still lingers.
Central Coast Mariners v Northern Tigers Sunday 3pm Pluim Park, Lisarow
Just one win in their past six has seen Central Coast Mariners settle in midtable as they await the visit of Northern Tigers this Sunday. Having to play most of last week’s game with only ten players wouldn’t have aided their cause against Mount Druitt Town Rangers, and Nathan Verity’s subsequent absence this weekend won’t bring much delight either. An inconsistent season to date, Central Coast will be looking to get back that winning feeling against their closest neighbours.
Northern Tigers’ current position of fifth is their highest since round three and they look well primed as the season hits the half way mark. Following the visit to Pluim Park, they will have nine of their remaining fixtures at Valentine Sports Park, a hefty home ground advantage for the second half of the season. Getting away from the Coast with some points will be hard earned though, but with Lucas Dawson making his 100th appearance for the club, and as captain in the continued absence of Michael Rolston, there will be plenty of reasons for the Tigers to take something back down the M1.
Bankstown City v Fraser Park Sunday 3pm Jensen Park, Sefton
Bankstown City were relieved to get over their mini two game slump to defeat the Berries last Saturday and now will turn their attention to resuming their usually winning form when Fraser Park visit Jensen. But it may be tougher than they think against a new look team who may well have done damage to Northern Tigers last weekend had they not been reduced to ten. Up 1-0 at half time courtesy of a Ben Vidaic goal, Fraser, who also signed, amongst others, Jordan Simpson, Rocci Gabey and Alvaro Malmierca, three players with vast experience, they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. With a full eleven, and a determination to pull away from bottom spot, Fraser Park can be expected to provide stiff opposition to the Lions despite the difference in league position.
Mounties Wanderers v Macarthur Rams Sunday 3pm Valentine Sports Park, Glenwood
This is the only fixture of the weekend between two sides who both lost last round so there will be just that little extra pressure going into this game. Neither were too far away though with Mounties conceding a couple late against Western Sydney Wanderers while Macarthur went down by the narrowest of margins. Mounties have scored in every league game this season but after a bright start their results have become a little inconsistent recently. With the competition turning around after this week, a return to that good form will be needed to ensure a strong run towards the finals.
Macarthur, likewise, have been similarly inconsistent. With three away games over the next three weeks the Rams have a tough schedule and with the likelihood that a few clubs currently languishing at wrong end of the table will rise, the second half of the season looks ripe for a dogfight. Macarthur are sure to be amongst it and a win at Mounties would provide a nicety timed boost.
Source FNSW -by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men's Reporter