One game stands out this week in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s and that game takes place at Lambert Park on Saturday night.
We head to the Inner West for the Match of the Round between title chasing Sydney FC and Marconi.
Sydney FC v Marconi Saturday 7:45pm Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Lambert Park is certainly the place to be this Saturday when leaders Sydney FC meet Marconi, who have now thrown their hat into the title ring, late. Both sides will have to go for the win which should set up the match for an attacking, entertaining display. While a draw would be enough for Sydney FC to end Marconi’s challenge, their far superior goal difference will see to that, it would though set up the opportunity for Western Sydney Wanderers to retake the lead the following day, should they defeat Mounties. So a win it will have to be, and they will have to do it without the suspended Bai Antoniou.
The Stallions have made it interesting, when for the majority of the season it has mainly been whether Sydney FC or the Wanderers would claim the prize. But last week’s win over the Wanderers has opened it up to a three way exchange and Marconi have it in their hands to take it down to the wire. Whether they do so remains to be seen but if last week’s performance is repeated this Saturday, and they show the same desire, they will give themselves as much a chance as possible.
There will be plenty for the neutrals too, to see what should be a great game of football, with Sydney FC and Marconi having found the net a combined 144 times this season and fielding two of the top three leading scorers.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Central Coast Mariners Saturday 7pm Popondetta Park, Emerton
Mount Druitt Town have gained the upper hand once more in the race for the six but face an interesting clash against Central Coast Mariners, a club who a couple of weeks ago were out of contention, but have now brought themselves back into account, courtesy of events both on and off the field, and with both their final matches against Rangers and then Northern Tigers, they may yet cause a surprise. Rangers did particularly well against Fraser Park, slowing down that juggernaut, and with just the two games left, would have to remain favourites to progress. But with the Central Coast Mariners this week, and a determined North Shore version next week, it is not guaranteed by any stretch.
Central Coast knocked one barrier over last weekend, defeating an inform Spirit FC, but the task still seems a big one, and one not entirely in their hands. Having the worst goal difference of those challenging won’t help but the Mariners are bound to give it a good shot. Josh Bingham’s return last weekend was a surprise and if the talented striker takes the field again this week, Rangers will need to be on their guard.
St George v Macarthur Rams Saturday 7pm St George Stadium, Kyeemagh
Both the Saints and Rams held hopes of making the six but those hopes have been extinguished now. St George’s loss on Tuesday put paid to their late run and they will spend the last fortnight seeking to finish as high as possible. While a top half might be a tall order now, they will want to end with a flourish. Peter Vassilis and Billy Darwich, both suspended midweek, will return.
Macarthur Rams had an impressive win over the Lions last weekend, making putting paid to any thought that they might not have an influence over the final rounds. Like the Saints, they are five points behind Mount Druitt Town Rangers and that will be a bridge too far, with the fixture list over the last two weeks not providing much benefit. It will be a case, like that of St George, of finishing as high as possible.
Bankstown City v Bankstown Berries Saturday 7pm Jensen Park, Sefton
An impressive second half against St George on Tuesday night set Bankstown City on the way to victory, in what has been a shaky period for the Lions. But the midweek win moves Bankstown into clear fourth and they will take confidence from the four goals scored too, their highest tally for quite some time. The local derby against near neighbours Bankstown Berries will provide plenty of incentive too as they seek to consolidate their position.
The Berries have continued to gather points at an impressive rate with just one loss, to Sydney FC, in their past seven. For this reason, they cannot be underestimated and while they look safe as far as club championship points go, they will like to go into the final week with sufficient buffer to entirely remove any doubt. Some points against the Lions will help no end.
Northern Tigers v Fraser Park Saturday 7pm, Valentine Park No 2, Glenwood
A curious situation arises at Valentine Park on Saturday evening when two NPL2 games kick off concurrently on adjoining fields. What makes it all the more interesting is that both Fraser Park and North Shore Mariners are two of the clubs competing, and not against each other. With each fighting the other against relegation, it will allow a few observers with a vested interest to keep a close watch on both games at once, a novel opportunity. A stressful afternoon, and night, looks in store.
Northern Tigers may not be concerned by all that as they seek to claim the win against Fraser Park to keep their own challenge going. They slipped up against Bankstown Berries, perhaps crucially, and will need to make amends against Fraser, just in case Mount Druitt Town repay the favour. It has been a surprisingly inconsistent year for the Tigers, normally one of the competition’s stalwarts at the top.
Fraser Park still hold the advantage over North Shore however slight, but that could be gone in a twinkling. They will hope that the massive effort extended so far won’t end up going to waste and a positive result against Northern Tigers will help their cause. After a disappointing result against Mount Druitt Town, Fraser can’t afford the same to happen this weekend.
Spirit FC v North Shore Mariners Saturday 7pm Valentine Park No 3, Glenwood
A few weeks ago, this game looked likely to be a match vital for both clubs as it then stood, with both Spirit and North Shore holding up the club championship table at the time. But Spirit can now rest easy, having worked themselves away from the bottom, a comfortable margin providing them with certainty now. Still, a couple of wins to end the season will finish the year off nicely, before they hand over their title.
Unfortunately for North Shore, they remain with a major task still to be done. Playing against a team with nothing riding on the match may be a bonus perhaps, as compared to Fraser, although no one will be expecting Spirit to lie down. As the league’s lowest scorers, with less than one goal per game, North Shore will find it tough but Spirit have been conceding a few lately, so this may be the game it comes together for North Shore.
Mounties v Western Sydney Wanderers Sunday 3pm Valentine Park No 2, Glenwood
It is now five games since Mounties Wanderers tasted victory and a matchup against a title challenging Western Sydney Wanderers will not ease their concerns going into the final fortnight. But Mounties are still in control of their own destiny and all but a calamitous series of results would see them miss the semis. Getting back into form will be the aim before September rolls around. Matthew West will return this week which will provide some comfort.
Western Sydney Wanderers were forced to hand over the number one position thanks to an eager Marconi last Sunday, but that race is anything but over, and irrespective of how the Lambert Park result fares, the Wanderers will want to win here to keep it open until the final day. Somewhat surprisingly considering their lofty position, they have won just one of their past five and so, like Mounties, their recent results are just a little bit off the boil.
Rescheduled Round 23
Tuesday 16 August 2016
Bankstown City v St George
Bankstown City ended any hopes St George had in making the end of season finals with a seven minute blitz early in the second half, overturning a half time deficit to run out eventual 4-1 winners.
The visiting Saints had taken an early lead after Dimitri Zakilas poached a goal in the sixth minute and at the half time mark, a rarely threatened St George looked in a good position to keep their season alive.
But Leo Carle must have said the right things in the break because it was a different Lions after the restart, and more of the attacking side that one is used to seeing. A left foot strike from Huseyin Jasli brought Bankstown level just before the hour and a Chris Gomez header two minutes later put the Lions in the lead. Five minutes further on and the lead was extended when Kojiro Hori struck low from the edge of the area.
Substitute Shayne Ardle took just a minute to make an impression, nipping in for the fourth with four minutes remaining.
Bankstown City 4 (Huseyin Jasli 59’, Chris Gomez 61’, Kojiro Hori 66’, Shayne Ardle 86’) v St George 1 (Dimitri Zakilas 6’)
Bankstown City: 1. Dion Shaw 2. Todd Halloran 5. Michael Beauchamp 9. Gerard Ouffoue 10. Chris Gomez (25. Shayne Ardle 85’) 11. Huseyin Jasli 13. Dhari Alsaad (7. Joshua Brookes 88’) 14. Dean Bereveskos (4. Mato Lucic 80’) 16. Kojiro Hori 20. Nick Mouzourakis 23. Grant Lynch
St George: 1. George Bouropoulos 3. Ali Nasreddine 4. Johnathan Kontalis (31. Tayfun Buyukkopru 70’) 6. Reuben Lagos 7. Stefan de Jesus 8. Tarik Ercan 9. Dimitri Zakilas (14. Jacob Sullivan 58’) 16. Thomas Menton 17. Bruno Pivato 18. Yuta Konagaya 20. Jayden McLeod.
Source FNSW - by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter