Sixteen rounds down and ten to go. And with so much to play for across the Playstation 4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 2 competition, every club has something tangible for which to aim. This Saturday we head to The Crest for Bankstown Berries v Central Coast Mariners.
Bankstown Berries v Central Coast Mariners Saturday 7pm The Crest, Bass Hill
There is plenty at stake when Bankstown Berries and Central Coast Mariners meet. After improved results recently the Berries joined Macarthur and St George in going down to Fraser Park last week and the loss tempered, at least for one week, their slight movement up the ladder. They still have a match in hand against most clubs in the immediate vicinity and a victory here would provide some respite before they take on Macarthur next Wednesday night. A couple of wins and the Berries won’t be that far behind the mid-table pack chasing the finals. Nicholas Paras, with nine goals to his credit, and Tai Smith with five, will look to continue their excellent record to date. Liam McKenna, sent off on the weekend, will be absent for this one.
More than anything, Central Coast Mariners will be looking to shore up their defence. Only once this season have they kept a cleansheet and they have conceded any number of goals in recent games. That is something that Ben Cahn is well aware of, and likely to be the focus on the training field this week. Once again, Trent Buhagiar will be the main man up front, and one the Berries will need to keep a close watch on.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Bankstown City Saturday 7pm Blacktown Football Park, Doonside
After defeating Sydney FC in the A-League academy derby three weeks ago, the Wanderers have yet to taste victory since and their task won’t be any easier when Bankstown City come to visit. While it might be expected that results may slip due to the changes in the squad, there is still plenty of talent available to ensure that the Wanderers will be there when it counts. Tariq Maia and Kyle Cimenti, to name just two, will keep the Lions busy.
Bankstown were out of action last weekend and just maybe, could have leapt to first. It will be a big fortnight coming up, with Sydney FC visiting Jensen Park in two week’s time. Getting past Western Sydney Wanderers will take the focus for now but if they can repeat their win from round four, the next fortnight could be very interesting indeed.
Fraser Park v Mounties Wanderers Saturday 7pm Fraser Park, Sydenham
Commentary around the grounds has suggested that Fraser Park weren’t getting the results that their performances perhaps deserved but it seems that the tide may now have turned. A trio of wins has brought Fraser Park level pegging with Spirit FC and Bankstown Berries, albeit with an extra game played, when they were virtually cast adrift a week ago. It has been a phenomenal turnaround and one which may not yet be over.
This week’s visit of Mounties Wanderers will see David Perkovic return to the ground where he coached a couple of short years ago. Fond memories maybe, but the quest for points will take priority once the kick off commences. Mounties missed the action last Sunday but they remain well in the hunt for the finals. Pleasantries aside, Perkovic and his Mounties side will want nothing less than a win.
Spirit FC v Mount Druitt Town Rangers Saturday 7pm, Christie Park, Marsfield
Spirit FC may not have expected to find themselves bottom but that’s where they are after Fraser Park’s rapid rise. Only on goal difference, and they have a game up their sleeves, but still too close for comfort for last season’s champions. They earned a good point against Western Sydney wanderers last Tuesday and only dropped the points late against Sydney FC in the game prior. Their form has been on the improve and despite Mount Druitt Town’s great run themselves, they will need a victory here.
Rangers are the form team, unbeaten in their past eight games. They have been taking on all comers lately, and winning, but even so, they remain sixth in a tightly packed bunch. Little room for error, Rangers will be looking to take the points away from Christie, as Spirit did from Popondetta.
Sydney FC v Northern Tigers Saturday 7:45pm Lambert Park, Leichhardt
A few weeks ago, it seemed that Sydney FC might be running away with the Premiership but four points from their past fifteen has put the kybosh on that idea. One win in five sees them return to Lambert Park with their lead under threat with not one, but two, teams ready to pounce. The visit of Northern Tigers will be another test, but one constant that Sydney FC can rely on are the goals of Charles Lokolingoy. Another two last Saturday has taken his tally to twenty for the year.
Fortunately for Northern Tigers, central defender Michael Rolston has made a return to the field of play, a timely reappearance as the Tigers will need everyone on deck to keep Lokolingoy, and Bai Antoniou, in check.
Marconi v St George Sunday 3pm Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
This will be the third time this season that these two sides have met with St George taking the league points back in round four while Marconi defeated the Saints in the Westfield FFA Cup.
Much has happened since those days with Marconi sitting comfortably in fourth but with two games in hand over the top two. St George may be tenth, but with two wins from the past three games, and having scored ten goals in those matches, they have raised themselves to within touching distance of the six. Their midseason signings have impressed, particularly Yuta Konagaya and Dimitri Zakilas. Konagaya has scored in three of his five games to date, while former Golden Boot winner Zakilas has netted in three of his four games. A fine return so early on. With Marconi the competition’s third highest scorers, goals in this game seem a certainty.
North Shore Mariners v Macarthur Rams Sunday 3pm Valentine Park, Glenwood
After such strong performances defensively in recent times, North Shore Mariners let in six last weekend, suffering their biggest defeat of the season. After having only conceded one in each of the previous four games, that result will give Joe Haywood plenty to think about for the visit of Macarthur Rams. North Shore are now just two points off bottom but face the next three weeks with three home games, two of which are against clubs currently below them. A more important series of matches could hardly have been arranged.
Not conceding early goals will be the target of the Rams. They have mixed their results lately, not helped by going behind early in their past two. While they did manage to fight back to a certain degree on both occasions, they still left themselves with too much to do. As it was, they lost both in the end, and concentration from the start will be Lee Sterrey’s mantra this weekend.
Source FNSW - by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter