After some Westfield FFA Cup action midweek, which saw three PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW clubs progress, the focus returns to the league competition for round ten with our Match of the Round between Marconi and Mounties Wanderers.
Marconi v Mounties Wanderers Sunday 3pm Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
In years gone by, the local derby for Marconi would have meant a fixture against Sydney United 58 FC. For the time being at least, the local derby now means a match against Mounties Wanderers, only a few kilometres further on. Both clubs featured on Wednesday in the Westfield FFA Cup, and both progressed to the next round, the Stallions coming over the top of St George late with a 3-0 win. No surprise that it was Sean Rooney and Mirjan Pavlovic getting amongst the goals either, something that Mounties will have noted.
Mounties, themselves 5-3 winners in the Cup against Mosman FC, though in extra time, will seek further progression in the league on Sunday. Like Marconi, they dropped points at home last weekend, and so a win this week will be essential if they are to remain in touch with the top three. With half their goals tally so far having been shared between Matthew West and Reid Taylor, the Stallions may do well to place their focus on this pair.
Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC Saturday 6:30pm Pluim Park, Lisarow
The weekend’s fixtures kick off at Pluim Park when Sydney FC head to Lisarow to tackle Central Coast Mariners. It is a chance for both sides to meet once more, having clashed during the National Youth League season over the summer. Sydney FC won both those matches, 2-1 and 5-3, and would be favourites to continue with that run here again. They may not have been at their best against Fraser Park last weekend, but got the points all the same. The closeness of that clash, and despite Sydney FC’s strong wins to date, shows that no result in this league is a foregone conclusion. The leaders will fancy their chances though, especially with Bai Antoniou and Charles Lokolingoy in such fine fettle at the moment.
The Mariners were two up against Western Sydney Wanderers last week before conceding three. It was a disappointing result after such a good start and one point from their past nine is something Central Coast will want to improve upon. Currently seventh, it has been an inconsistent start to the competition for the Coast, invariably at or near the top of the table in this league. A win against the leaders though will give impetus for a push up the ladder.
Fraser Park v Spirit FC Saturday 7pm Fraser Park, Sydenham
The league’s bottom two face off at Fraser Park each hoping for that second elusive win. It has been a horrible defence of the title so far for Spirit whose miserable ‘goals for’ tally, at three, gives a clear indication of where a large part of their problems lie. They haven’t scored since a 1-1 draw with Northern Tigers over a month ago and while their goals conceded is also not pleasant viewing, half of that tally was against Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers, in the opening two fixtures. It is up front where Spirit will need to focus, and just maybe, against the bottom side, they can begin to repair their season.
But Fraser Park won’t be any pushover, especially after their result last weekend against Sydney FC. Level for a large part of the game, they did far better than most against the league leaders, but unlike their opponents this weekend, it is not in the scoring department that they are having difficulties, but rather, at the back. Only Bankstown Berries have conceded more and Fraser are yet to keep a clean sheet all season. Against the competition’s worst attack, this could be their week.
St George v Bankstown City Saturday 7pm St George Stadium, Kyeemagh
St George were knocked out of the Cup against Marconi, and while progression would have been welcomed, league points are the priority for the club. While they have won only twice in nine games so far, they haven’t been too far away from earning points, and a change in fortune should follow if the effort shown continues. The return of Reuben Lagos from injury, on for the last ten minutes in the Cup, will make a difference.
The Lions have impressed this season, as expected, and it is only the two A-league youth teams who currently sit above them on the ladder. Having beaten the Western Sydney Wanderers and only succumbed to Sydney FC by an own goal, they have proven to be the most likely of the established Playstation 4 National Premier Leagues 2 clubs to challenge the top two. Their defence is the best in the league bar none, having conceded less than a goal a game. This makes it a tough task for the Saints, but with quite a number of ex-Lions in their ranks, St George will certainly be up for the challenge.
Macarthur Rams v Northern Tigers Saturday 7pm Lynwood Park, St Helens Park
Macarthur Rams, with just one point on the road, will welcome a return to Lynwood Park, where they remain undefeated. But while traditionally it is a difficult venue for opposing clubs to take away points, Northern Tigers seem to have the knack, having lost only once there in the past six years. The Rams, who will be disappointed with their loss last weekend, will be needing Elsid Barkhousir to get amongst the goals once more, his five for the season so far a decent record.
The Tigers scraped in late against St George last week but they won’t have been happy with a further two goals conceded. Normally strong defensively, Northern Tigers have almost conceded as many as they did all last season and will hope that central defender and captain Michael Rolston is not too far off a return.
Bankstown Berries v Mount Druitt Town Rangers Saturday 7pm The Crest, Bass Hill
Bankstown Berries got through to the next round of the Westfield FFA Cup after knocking out St George FA on Tuesday night, although the extra time victory was a lot closer than they would have liked. An equaliser a minute before half time by Tai Smith and then a Dimitri Zakilas strike in the first period of extra time gave them the 2-1 win and a match up against Marconi next round. Converting that Cup form to the league is the next test for the Berries but it remains to be seen whether the two hours of physical football midweek will ultimately take a toll this Saturday.
Mount Druitt Town may have the opportunity to make it three on the trot if the Berries should find their midweek efforts come back to haunt them. They have returned to some form after a poor start when they lost their opening four games but three wins in their past five has helped lift them to tenth and away from the bottom rung. With Rangers’ next four games against teams either below or within range on the ladder, it could be a productive month.
North Shore Mariners v Western Sydney Wanderers Sunday 3pm Northbridge Oval, Northbridge
North Shore Mariners have gone five games without defeat now but they will face their toughest test yet when Western Sydney Wanderers visit Northbridge Oval. North Shore, after a shaky start, seemed to have found their NPL 2 legs and have gained some admirable points over the past month. Apart from the opening round, North Shore have scored in every game and a continuation of this record will be the minimum target.
The Wanderers similarly, don’t have trouble finding the back of the net, only twice having failed to score at least three in each of their nine games. With five straight wins, and a hefty thirty two goals scored this season, they will be favourites to continue with that run here.
Source FNSW -by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men's Reporter