There is a title to be won and relegation to be avoided as the final round of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 2 competition reaches its final round.
For the Match of the Round, we head to the obvious choice as Western Sydney Wanderers meet Sydney FC.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC Sunday 3pm Popondetta Park, Emerton
It was always likely that this fixture would be the title decider and while that is the case, it will take a result of monumental proportions for it to go to anyone other than Sydney FC. A superior goal difference by a margin of ten, and a higher goals scored tally, means that the Wanderers will need to win by six to take the title themselves. It is doubtful that even the most hardened Wanderers fan would be expecting that. Hoping might be a different matter, and the majority will be turning up to Popondetta Park with that in mind. Then again, some may turn their minds back to the final round of NPL1 in 2014 and remember that football can throw up the unlikeliest of results.
Sydney FC and coach Robert Stanton will be doing their best to make sure nothing similar happens on Sunday. They can look forward to playing PlayStation 4 NPL1 themselves next season, and what better way to go out that to claim the title on their main opponent’s turf. With 80 goals scored, an average of over three per game, and the Wanderers having scored in excess of 70, there should be enough action to keep everybody entertained.
Fraser Park v Bankstown City Sunday 3pm Fraser Park Sydenham
It all comes down to this. After raising themselves off the canvas halfway through the season, and commencing a run of results which has seen them collect 26 points from 36, and suffering just two losses in twelve games, Fraser Park need to lift one more time if they are to avoid any chance of relegation. It will be a close affair, with lower grade results also playing a part, and there are likely to be plenty of texts flying around between Fraser Park and Northbridge Oval on Sunday afternoon. Fraser are up against a Bankstown City side who have regained some form lately so any points gained will have to be earned.
The Lions will be heading to the finals once more and are looking to go one better than as last year’s losing Grand Finalists. With four wins from their past five, they have started to get results again just at the right time of the season. There is not a lot to be concerned about this weekend for Bankstown who know that next week they will face either Mounties or Mount Druitt Town, no matter what happens around the grounds, but a possible third placed finish is still the aim.
North Shore Mariners v Mount Druitt Town Rangers Sunday 3pm Northbridge Oval, Northbridge
North Shore Mariners meanwhile have been pushing Fraser Park every step of the way. They only fell to the bottom of the club championship six weeks ago but have never been further than ten points adrift at any stage, with only five points now the margin. It could hardly be closer but if North Shore can continue their recent good form, it could well be that the points earned against Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers might keep them up. Like Fraser Park, they meet a team playing finals football next week, so the fixture list is not playing any favourites.
Mount Druitt Town will be eager to play in the finals but first they face a North Shore side with everything to play for. Five wins, a draw and just one loss in their past seven is the reason why Rangers can look forward to September and they will look to continue that run at Northbridge. Rangers failed to defeat North Shore last time they met, so they won’t be getting ahead of themselves on Sunday.
Bankstown Berries v St George Sunday 3pm The Crest, Bass Hill
Bankstown Berries were the recipient of three additional club championship points during the week which has lifted their nerves somewhat leading into the match against St George. Now seventeen points clear, a result or two in the younger grades will be the aim leaving the first grade fixture to be played without an urgency for points. But should they fail to do so, there could be a tense atmosphere at The Crest. With just two losses in their past eight, they have been showing some good form but likewise, so have St George.
The Saints left their run too late, and probably wish the season still had a few rounds to go. Only now have they started to show consistency in results, but it has been a smart conclusion to a season which was one of rebuilding. A win against the Berries will confirm seventh, and a finish in the top half, which will be regarded as a step in the right direction after a disastrous 2015.
Northern Tigers v Central Coast Mariners Sunday 3pm Valentine Park, Glenwood
This is one of a few games with not a lot riding on them, apart from pride. The Tigers are disappointed to miss out on the championship finals, having taken the Grand Final last season but a run of three losses from their past four destroyed their chances. Still, they never like to lose and irrespective of the context of this game, the Tigers will be sure to aim for a positive finish.
Central Coast Mariners are another team who made the cut in 2015 but failed to do so this time out. While comparisons can be difficult for obvious reasons, with Sydney FC, WSW and Marconi playing NPL2 this year, it would still be regarded as a disappointing year after having made the finals in their past two seasons. Currently ninth, a win over the Tigers will at worst see them finish eighth while they may still finish top half should St George fail to beat the Berries.
Macarthur Rams v Mounties Wanderers Sunday 3pm Lynwood Park, St Helens Park
Like quite a few clubs, Macarthur Rams would be ruing their inconsistency this season. A win over Sydney FC, draws with Western Sydney Wanderers and Marconi, two wins over Bankstown City have been countered by losses and draws to clubs at the bottom of the ladder. No doubt a frustrating time for Lee Sterrey and his team, who have shown that they can match it with the best, but it just didn’t happen often enough. They will have the final chance this weekend when they meet finals bound Mounties.
Mounties have performed very well overall this season after taking the wooden spoon in 2015. For a large part, they can thank the goals of Matthew West who has now scored twenty for the season, the second highest in the league. A hatrick last weekend helped secure a point against Western Sydney Wanderers and as long as West keeps scoring, Mounties will always be a threat. But without a win in their past five, Mounties’ recent results are not the best, something they will be looking to change with the finals around the corner.
Marconi v Spirit FC Sunday 3pm Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
It was a job just out of their reach for Marconi when they lost to Sydney FC last weekend, letting go of any remaining hope of claiming the premiership. But they certainly made a game of it, and will take some consolation from being so close, right at the end. There is no time to rest though with Bankstown City loitering close by but one can feel that Marconi would like to now finish third, with only Sydney FC and the Wanderers above them. For that reason, expect the Stallions to finish off the regular season on a high.
Spirit FC are the visitors to Bossley Park, and they will enjoy the occasion. It hasn’t been the best of endings to the season for Spirit with just two points from their past five games, especially after a run of five games without defeat, but there are plenty of clubs with a similar record. It shows how tough the competition has been this season, with any club being able to beat any other. Spirit defeated Marconi earlier in the season and so a double over their hosts would round out the year on a winning note.
Source FNSW - by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter