With this week’s fixtures in the Playstation 4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 2 set around four different time slots, unusually, the round will kick off up the Coast on Saturday afternoon before finishing on Sunday evening at Valentine Park.
But it is to Jensen Park that we head for the blockbuster Match of the Round between Bankstown City and Sydney FC.
Bankstown City v Sydney FC Sunday 3pm Jensen Park, Sefton
This week’s match of the round pits third v second. Both clubs come off a loss last weekend and both finished with less than the full complement on the field. The Lions had Domenic Hudap sent off at 2-1 down and probably thought they had earned a point when they equalised three minutes from the end of regular time. But a winner to the Wanderers deep into injury time meant that Bankstown ended up with nothing, and they will need a win here to keep in touch with Western Sydney at the top. Hudap will be out of course, but the Lions have recently recruited Shayne Ardle from Mount Druitt Town Rangers which will add further depth to an already strong squad.
Sydney FC are in their worst form of the season with only one win in their past six, and four losses. An amazing reversal of form considering their ten straight successes in the first half of the season. Last week’s game against Northern Tigers was the first time they have been kept scoreless since round one although being reduced to nine would not have helped. How to return to their winning ways is the conundrum Robert Stanton will be seeking to answer.
Central Coast Mariners v Fraser Park Saturday 4:30pm Pluim Park Lisarow
Both the Mariners and Fraser Park are in some decent form at the moment with Central Coast having won their last two, both away from home, while Fraser Park are giving plenty with ten points from twelve. The Coast have been coming out of the blocks in double quick fashion in recent weeks, though they have sometimes taken the foot off after that. Against a Fraser Park still desperate for points, Central Coast will need to be on their guard for the full ninety.
But for a last minute leveller conceded against Mounties, Fraser Park would be sitting on four wins from four. That is just the tonic they need as the end of seasons run starts to heat up, especially with the all important Club Championship points still required. With the big three coming up on the horizon, further points over the next two weeks will be a priority.
Macarthur Rams v Marconi Saturday 7pm Lynwood Park, St Helens Park
Both the Rams and Stallions played on Wednesday night in rescheduled round fourteen fixtures and each claimed a win. It didn’t look like it would end up that way for Macarthur at half time against the Berries but a much improved second half display saw them take the points. The win moves them three places into sixth spot, and remain just a win behind Marconi. There will be plenty riding on the result this weekend, and with the previous match between the two finishing in a draw, it could well end up that way again.
It has been a busy period for Marconi who will play their fourth game in eleven days when they meet the Rams. Having lost to Sydney United in the Waratah Cup semi final last midweek, and then shared the points against St George last Sunday, they finally gained the win, against Mount Druitt Town Rangers on Wednesday night. They rise to fourth with that victory, but will have plenty to do at Lynwood Park if they want to stay there.
St George v Western Sydney Wanderers Saturday 7pm St George Stadium, Kyeemagh
St George welcome the league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers to St George Stadium on Saturday in good shape after a determined 2-2 draw at Marconi. They just failed to hang on after an impressive display and they will be ready for the challenge when the Wanderers visit. It was a 0-5 defeat when they last met but as Mount Druitt Town Rangers have shown, a similar result can be overturned a few months later. But with top spot currently under their belts, Western Sydney Wanderers will be making sure that lightning doesn’t strike twice.
The Wanderers overcame Bankstown City last weekend to snare the competition lead and they will be keen to build on that if at all possible, especially with Sydney FC facing a tough trip to Jensen Park. If the Wanderers can win here, they will open up a six point gap ahead of the Sky Blues’ game on Sunday, something they would no doubt take some delight in.
Northern Tigers v Spirit FC Saturday 7pm Valentine Sports Park, Glenwood
Three points away at Sydney FC may have been more than Northern Tigers expected last week but the win moved them into fourth spot at the time, their equal highest position this season. They have set themselves up well for the remainder of the competition, where they have six of their remaining nine games at Valentine Park. The artificial surface suits the Tigers style of play, and while their record there is not an infallible one, it is impressive all the same. It was a 1-1 draw against Spirit earlier in the season, so despite the difference in league standings, it is far from a foregone conclusion.
Spirit FC ended Mount Druitt Town’s recent run and so will fancy their chances in knocking off the Tigers as well. It is invariably close between the two sides, for the most part in fixtures when both sides are near the top of the table. It may be a different experience for Spirit this year, but local rivalries will still play a part in making this a close encounter.
North Shore Mariners v Bankstown Berries Sunday 3pm Northbridge Oval, Northbridge
Just four points separate four teams at the wrong end of the table and each week almost seems to throw up a fixture between two of them. This weekend it is the turn of North Shore Mariners and Bankstown Berries, a match which takes on even more importance for the Berries following their midweek loss to Macarthur. North Shore, with one win in eleven, find themselves just two points from bottom, and while they can pick up draws without too much trouble, those wins are proving elusive. But three pointers make all the difference, and it is wins that they really need.
It is just not going Bankstown Berries’ way at the moment. Up 2-0 at half time on Wednesday against Macarthur, they conceded three second half goals to lose 3-2. They remain bottom as a result, and have taken just a point from four consecutive games at The Crest. The Berries might well look forward to going on the road this weekend, their three wins this season all having come away from home.
Mounties Wanderers v Mt Druitt Town Rangers Sunday 6pm Valentine Park, Glenwood
After midweek results, Mounties find themselves in eighth spot although they still have a game in hand over most above them. But three draws in a row, and just one win in nine, has seen Mounties become a part of a chasing pack, rather than one of the leaders they once were. The goals seem to have dried up too, especially after such a strong opening to the season, and they are averaging not much more than one goal a game at the moment. No secret what they need to do if the wins are to return.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers suffered the second defeat in five days when losing to Marconi on Wednesday. After such good results recently, the double whammy will be disappointing to all at Popondetta Park, seeking as they are a spot in the semis. They drop to ninth following the Rams’ win, but it is a tight field, and probably will remain so until the final round.
Bankstown Berries v Macarthur Rams
After dropping to last place on the ladder after the last round of results, Bankstown Berries are finding themselves in a real scrap in the fight for points as the pressure starts to mount. And after a couple of recent home losses, it seemed that the Berries were heading for a change of fortune after going 2-0 up against Macarthur Rams on Wednesday night.
It took just three minutes for Nicholas Paras to put Bankstown Berries in the lead, and for the first half at least, the Berries looked comfortable and confident. Paras’ goal, getting on the end of a Tai Smith cross, continued Macarthur’s awful habit of conceding early and having to chase the game.
The early lead, by contrast, was a boon to the Berries, who generally handled Macarthur’s response with relative ease, although Mason Versi did draw a good save from Tonu Liiband after ten minutes.
But it was the Berries who threatened the most, Smith always dangerous down the left, his pace a concern. When they went 2-0 up on the half hour, with Smith heading in from a corner, they must have thought their first home win was on its way.
Smith almost made it 3-0 with six minutes remaining of the first half, a counter finding him in space and a charge up the field brought him up against Nikodin Matic. But the shot was slammed against the keeper, and the chance was lost.
Of course, despite being 2-0 to the good, the Berries were only half way there, and it was a different Macarthur after the break.
Five minutes in, they brought a goal back, which lifted the Rams hugely. A penalty was awarded after a foul in the box, and while Yotaro Hagiwara’s spotkick was saved by Liiband, the parry was slammed home by Craig Cooley, in a well hit response.
Now it was Macarthur who were surging, as they sought an equaliser. And the way they were playing, again on the comeback trail, it was almost written that a further goal would come.
And come it did, with David McMurray driving low into goal just after the hour, amongst a crowd of players. The Rams were back on level terms, within fifteen minutes, and that wasn’t to be the end of it.
Corners were proving to be a problem for the Berries, and it was no surprise that Macarthur gained the winner from such a play. Pumped into the area, a mass of players, and a third to the Rams ended up in the goal. Maybe an own goal, maybe McMurray got a touch, but it counted all the same.
Macarthur were 3-2 up and the comeback was complete.
Bankstown Berries 2 (Nicholas Paras 3’, Tai Smith 31’) v Macarthur Rams 3 (Craig Cooley 50’, David McMurray 63’, 74’)
Wednesday 29 June 2016
at The Crest, Bass Hill
Referee: Samuel Grasso
Bankstown Berries: 1. Tonu Liiband 2. Andrew Vitucci 4. Alex Becerra 6. Perry Fotakopoulos 8. Mohammed Rahimi (17. Harrison Feller 70’) 9. Gavin Forbes (19. Panni Gotsis 76’) 10. Nicholas Paras 11. Tai Smith 14. David Han (7. Kyle Ewart 52’) 16. Hyams Tomohiro 18. Jake Bradshaw.
Subs not used: 15. Matthew Trotter 40. Chris Becerra
Coach: Rod Williams
Macarthur Rams: 1. Nikodin Matic 2. Craig Cooley 3. Mitchell Thompson (4. Ben Cornish 55’) 6. Kevin Ly 9. Anthony Schmidt 12. David McMurray 15. Yotaro Hagiwara 16. Mason Versi 17. James Ralston 18. Jordan Crackwell 19. Damian Travis (14. Khervyn Aguilar 46’, rep. by 8. Christian Leiva Martinez 83’).
Subs not used: 13. Daniel Carrozza 20. Jair Fernandez
Coach: Lee Sterrey
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Marconi
Marconi moved into fourth after three second half goals earned them the points at Popondetta Park, condemning Mount Druitt Town Rangers to a second consecutive loss.
No surprise where the goals came from with Sean Rooney, a double, and Marko Jesic finding the net as they have so often this season, while Kenta Hasegawa added his name to the scoresheet for the first time this season.
Nathan Ralph and Frank Martey scored for Rangers but it wasn’t enough as the home side slip to ninth.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers 2 (Nathan Ralph, Frank Martey) v Marconi 4 (Sean Rooney 2, Marko Jesic, Kenta Hasegawa)
Source FNSW - by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter