As always, there is plenty of interest in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 2 as Round Nineteen comes rapidly around this weekend, with the contest heating up right across the league.
This week our Match of the Round focuses on two clubs down the lower end of the table, as North Shore Mariners and Fraser Park battle it out.
North Shore Mariners v Fraser Park Sunday 3pm Northbridge Oval, Northbridge
Our Match of the Round promises much when North Shore Mariners and Fraser Park meet. Fraser Park’s recent turnaround has seen teams such as North Shore, amongst a clutch of clubs, become much more threatened than they may have thought possible a month ago. After losing to Bankstown Berries last weekend, North Shore dropped to bottom of the ladder and they will need a quick recovery against Fraser. The importance of results against each other cannot be underestimated, especially with both still to face return fixtures against Marconi, Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC.
Fraser were well aware a month ago that results in recent matches would help determine their season and they have come through that test with flying colours. But despite those results, they still remain ten points adrift in the club championship and the battle is not over yet. Another victory here will really set the cat amongst the pigeons.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Macarthur Rams Saturday 3pm Blacktown Football Park, Doonside
Western Sydney Wanderers get the weekend’s action off to an early start when they meet Macarthur Rams on Saturday afternoon. With their lead reduced to one point, they will look to place some pressure on Sydney FC, who play later that evening. But recent results haven’t quite been there for the Wanderers with one win from their past five games and Macarthur Rams, who drew 3-3 earlier in the season, will have plenty to say.
The Rams though have been inconsistent, at best, although the same could be said for the majority of clubs in the league. If anything, it says more about the extreme competitiveness of the competition, rather than shortcomings at any one club. No team is guaranteed a victory and with so much on the line, the Wanderers with their narrow lead, and the Rams one point out of the six, there should be plenty of action to kick start the round.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Northern Tigers Saturday 7pm Popondetta Park, Emerton
Both Rangers and Tigers are coming off losses last week, no doubt disappointed with the recent turn of events. After consecutive wins against the A-League academy sides, Mt Druitt Town have now suffered three losses in a row, and for the first time this season, have remained scoreless in two on the trot. To get back on track will be the priority this Saturday.
Like Mt Druitt, Northern Tigers also defeated Sydney FC before losing next time up. A worrying trend for the Tigers is the lack of goals, just about one per game in their past half dozen. That is a surprise as one thing the Tigers have rarely had trouble with is scoring goals. They will hope to correct that statistic this weekend.
Marconi v Bankstown Berries Saturday 7pm, Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
There is plenty to look forward to for Marconi over the coming weeks with a Westfield FFA Cup round of 32 match seeing the Stallions back on the national stage, with ‘live’ TV coverage to boot. But before their trip to Hume City, they will have a few league matches, the first of which is against Bankstown Berries. With three wins and a draw from their past four league games, Marconi sit in fourth spot but with a game in hand on the top two. It could be an exciting month for the Stallions.
Bankstown Berries came from behind to defeat North Shore Mariners and it was a win desperately needed. They swapped places with North Shore due to that win and they won’t want to drop back there any time soon, The Berries have a tough three weeks ahead but the win last weekend may just give them the confidence boost they need.
Sydney FC v St George Saturday 8pm Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Sydney FC were ecstatic with their win at Bankstown City, as they reduced the gap at the top to one point. It may well prove to be a turning point after some poor recent results as a win at Jensen Park is always a win worth savouring. They did well to recover after conceding a two goal lead, and the immediate response was impressive.
St George are playing some of their best football of the season at the moment but they will need to be when they visit Lambert Park. They would consider themselves unfortunate not to have won their past two against Marconi and Western Sydney Wanderers, conceding late equalisers in both games. It doesn’t get any easier at Sydney FC this week, but they have shown they can rise to the occasion, and for this season at least, this is about as tough as it gets.
Central Coast Mariners v Mounties Wanderers Sunday 3pm Pluim Park, Lisarow
The Mariners were the latest to succumb to Fraser Park’s recent resurrection, after a couple of nice wins on the road. They are back at Pluim Park for this one, the second of three home games in a row. They dropped to eighth after their most recent loss and are the highest ranked club to have lost more games than they have won. For all that, they are still just one point outside the six and a victory over Mounties, who usurped them in the ladder last weekend, will certainly strengthen their position.
Mounties still have a game up their sleeve, but that is still a couple of weeks away. A trip to Pluim is always problematic, even if the Mariners’ record at home this season is not the greatest. Last week’s win, though narrow, will give Mounties some respite from recent draws and may just be the boost they need.
Bankstown City v Spirit FC Sunday 3pm Jensen Park, Sefton
After coming back from 0-2 down last week and drawing level, Bankstown conceded again within sixty seconds to go down 2-3. It was disappointment across the board and one suspects, it is something that the Lions won’t be repeating. They stay third but the gap from the top two grew wider and they will be seeking to reduce the gap once more against Spirit FC.
Spirit had a fine win away at Northern Tigers and it ultimately proved to be an important one too, with Fraser Park and Bankstown Berries also collecting three points. Fortunately for Spirit they have an extra game to play compared to their rivals and once they get past Bankstown City this week, they don’t play any of the top four until the final round. That suggests that Spirit are the most likely to get themselves out of trouble, and leaving Jensen Park with something under their belts will be a great start.
Source FNSW - by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter