After a largely enforced break last weekend, the Playstation 4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 2 returns to action with leaders Western Sydney Wanderers the centre of attention as they meet local rivals Mount Druitt Town Rangers in our Match of the Round.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Mt Druitt Town Rangers Saturday 7pm Blacktown Football Park, Doonside
The league leaders meet Mount Druitt Town Rangers looking to maintain their lead at the top. It is somewhat of a rejigged Wanderers to a certain extent with quite a few squad changes over the past fortnight or so. It looks likely to be a younger team over the second half of the season and it remains to be seen whether they keep hold of the number one spot but it won’t be for lack of trying.
Mount Druitt Town conceded five the last time they met, but after a tough opening sequence of matches, they have let in just three in the past month. It is unlikely on that form that the Wanderers will have it as easy as that second round clash, and with Rangers needing a win to keep in touch with those immediately above, it might be closer than the table would normally suggest.
Fraser Park v Macarthur Rams Saturday 7pm Fraser Park, Sydenham
The battle continues for Fraser Park as they seek to claw themselves away from the bottom of the table. It just hasn’t been their year but one suspects a win will have to come sometime. All at Fraser will be hoping that that change of fortune starts this week when Macarthur visit. More than ever, they will be looking to Nikola Todoroski and newcomer Ben Vidaic to get amongst the goals.
Unfortunately for Fraser, Lee Sterrey’s Rams will be a tough nut to crack. Some strong wins over the past month was only interrupted by a narrow loss to St George and their current position of sixth has them right in the mix for a finals challenge, as we head into the latter half of the season. Strong defensively, they have also had ten different players hit the back of the net this season, an impressive total.
Bankstown Berries v Mounties Wanderers Saturday 7pm The Crest, Bass Hill
Bankstown Berries will have been very satisfied to have won last time out as they seek to rise up the table. While last week’s game at The Crest was of course washed out, they still have three further consecutive home games which may well help their cause. This week Mounties Wanderers come to visit and there can be nothing more certain than the Berries wanting to ensure that they don’t have another horror opening half hour like the last time they met. Nicholas Paras, on nine goals for the season, will look to continue his good run of scoring form.
Mounties have slipped in results lately and the next month will be crucial to their hopes. Seventh but with a chasing pack not too far behind, they can ill afford a continuation of their mixed results. With Tayfun Devrimol pulling on the boots once more, his vast experience will help, and if Matthew West can continue to knock in goals with regularity, a win can never be far away.
Northern Tigers v Marconi Saturday 7pm Valentine Park, Glenwood
Northern Tigers were one of only two teams to face action last week and came away with a win to move into fourth. It may only have been a narrow victory but they will be pleased nonetheless to have grabbed the three points and to keep a clean sheet, their first in six games. They now face a tough run where they meet three of their immediate rivals over the next three weeks but with the first two of those games at Valentine Park, the Tigers will fancy their chances. They defeated Marconi back in round two, so that confidence is well founded.
Marconi were successful in the Waratah Cup on Wednesday night, defeating Wollongong Wolves 2-1 to get through to the semi finals. They will look to replicate their cup form and get their league run back on track after their loss to Spirit FC a fortnight ago. That was their first loss in ten matches and with the Tigers’ win last week, Marconi have now dropped to fifth. A further loss here could see the Stallions start to drop too far off the pace.
Sydney FC v Spirit FC Saturday 7:45pm Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Having been usurped at the head of the table two weeks ago by Western Sydney Wanderers, expect Sydney FC to quickly set about their attempt to regain the leadership when they meet Spirit FC this Saturday. Two straight losses after a ten game winning streak has set the Sky Blues back a little and they now sit two points off the top. Not too much to worry about at this stage, but a quick return to positive results with settle any possible nerves. They beat Spirit 6-0 back in round two, but Spirit look to have gained some semblance of form lately, so a repeat scoreline is unlikely.
Spirit defeated Marconi last time out which will have provided a much needed boost to those at Christie. While still second from bottom, they are now within reach of a handful of clubs just above and any return this weekend will be well received. It will be tough though, but it can be expected that they will relish the chance to try and make amends for that early season result.
North Shore Mariners v Bankstown City Sunday 3pm Northbridge Oval, Northbridge
North Shore were the other team who played last week but they probably wished they hadn’t. The loss keeps them in eleventh spot but now having played a game extra, that position looks a little more precarious with Bankstown Berries and Spirit FC just a win each behind. They return to Northbridge Oval for this one, a venue where they are yet to win at this season. But with two draws and just a single goal loss, to Western Sydney Wanderers, suggest that a victory may not be far away.
Bankstown City will be making sure that it is not them that hands North Shore the three points. They remain the strongest of the challengers, outside of Sydney FC and the Wanderers, and they seem to have recovered from their recent hiccup. They will meet those two in coming weeks, along with Marconi, so it is essential that they don’t slip up here. With the Lions due to meet Central Coast Mariners in their washed out Round Fourteen fixture this Thursday night at Jensen Park (9 June), it could prove to be a fruitful few days.
Central Coast Mariners v St George Sunday 3pm, Pluim Park Lisarow
Central Coast handed St George their biggest loss of the season last year, a 6-1 defeat at Pluim from which the Saints barely recovered. While it is unlikely to be anything similar this time around, the Mariners will still be searching for another victory despite a home record which has not been the best. Four losses from six is really a pointer as to why the Mariners are eighth, so a return to form in front of their own crowd is needed.
St George don’t have a good record up the Coast. They haven’t won there since 2008 and so there is plenty of history to overturn if they are going to come away with something this Sunday. They have further strengthened the squad signing Tayfun Buyukkopru from Bankstown City, while Johnathan Kontalis returns from injury.
Source FNSW - by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter