With just four rounds to go in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 2 competition, a certain clarity is becoming evident, now that all rescheduled matches have been played.
Five of the top six have all but tied up a finals berth, but which club rounds out the six is still up for grabs.
Northern Tigers v Macarthur Rams Saturday 7pm Valentine Park, Glenwood
Two of those challenging for the top six meet in our Match of the Round on Saturday night. Northern Tigers held the upper hand prior to last week’s loss to St George but have handed that advantage now to Mount Druitt Town Rangers. Playing half the game with ten men against the Saints wasn’t ideal and they will miss the services of Steven Baveas this Saturday. With the Tigers and Rangers having a similar run in, it will of course be close, a draw instead of a win may make all the difference. For that reason alone, nothing but a victory for the Tigers over Macarthur will satisfy.
Macarthur Rams aren’t without their own hopes but they are one of the challengers most out of form. Like the Tigers, they have just one league win in their past five, strangely enough against Sydney FC, and their lack of wins has really hampered their chances. Being without Elsid Barkhousir hasn’t helped, but their final four games are all against other finals contenders, so while it is a tough last month, they can play a major part in deciding who else finishes in the top six. Maybe it will be the Rams themselves.
Bankstown City v St George Saturday 7pm Jensen Park, Sefton
After a run of outs, Bankstown City have made it two wins in four days after defeating Marconi on Wednesday and they face a rejuvenated St George this Saturday. Their loss of form was somewhat surprising but a timely recovery should set them in good stead for the final month. They remain one of the toughest sides to beat, and having lost the Grand Final last season, there shouldn’t be any doubt as to their target in this.
After spending much of the season in the lower reaches of the table, and more recently looking nervously over their shoulders, St George have thrown their hat into the top six ring following two consecutive wins against now-rival challengers. Though tenth, the Saints are just four points from the six with three of their last four against likeminded clubs and although they will need a winning run of Fraser Park proportions, it is not out of the question.
Spirit FC v Fraser Park Sunday 3pm Pennant Hills Park, Pennant Hills
Spirit FC took away a point from Mounties on Wednesday night, returning to normal service after last week’s loss. The past two months has seen Spirit rise convincingly up the table and the point gained lifts them back above this weekend’s opponents into eleventh. Any hopes they had of making a late charge for the finals may have now dissipated but they will still be as keen as ever to finish as high as possible.
Fraser Park’s passion has continued to drive them forward and they must now be seeing some light at the end of what must have been a very dark tunnel. They have continued to collect wins, seven of them in fact, along with one draw and one loss in their past nine games, since the half way point of the season. But with just four games left, they still face a tough draw, and they will need to avoid any relapse when they have come so close. Peter Crevani returns from suspension after having missed last weekend.
Western Sydney Wanderers v North Shore Mariners Saturday 7pm Blacktown Football Park, Doonside
Once more, the Wanderers didn’t take full advantage of Sydney FC’s loss last weekend, and but for last ditch equaliser, would have taken no advantage at all. As it is, they increased their lead by the minimum to take a two point advantage in the title chase, keeping the race well open for the final month. Against the league’s bottom club, the Wanderers should be expected to at least maintain that gap, although an increasingly desperate North Shore Mariners will give their all.
It is looking worse for North Shore Mariners with each passing week. Now seven points adrift at the bottom, and with the worst possible draw over the next fortnight, their hopes of avoiding the wooden spoon looks less likely by the moment, especially with those immediately above regularly picking up points. More importantly, North Shore would have their eyes on the Club Championship table, and unfortunately for the Northbridge based side, that doesn’t make pleasant reading. They are now ten points behind Fraser Park, and eighteen behind Bankstown Berries, which means it might all come undone sooner rather than later. They really have no option but to take some points off the Wanderers. Considering that North Shore were fifty points ahead of Fraser Park at the competition’s half way stage, the change of fortune in the second half of the season must surely hurt.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Bankstown Berries Saturday 7pm, Popondetta Park, Emerton
As sixth place changes yet again, this week it is the turn of Mount Druitt Town Rangers who find themselves in pole position. Having usurped Northern Tigers into sixth, Rangers face second from bottom Bankstown Berries at home, hopeful that another win will come their way. They shared the points at The Crest earlier in the season, and with so much on the line for both clubs, another equally close encounter is likely.
Bankstown Berries’ results have improved markedly since Paris Svilicich took over the reins, only losing one out of five, the wins including the scalp of Western Sydney Wanderers. Now seven points clear of bottom, their more immediate concerns lie with gaining Club Championship points, and moving away from the tailend of that ladder. If they can continue with their recent good form, the Sydney FC result notwithstanding, they will achieve that aim.
Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners Saturday 7:45pm Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Sydney FC must be wondering how they lost last weekend considering the amount of possession they had, but if any game shows that actual goals scored will beat possession stats, the match against Fraser Park was a prime example. The Sky Blues may have dropped a further point behind the Wanderers in the race for the title after that loss, but they have a slightly better goal difference, and if the Wanderers should slip again to another draw, Sydney FC will regain the advantage with a win, slight though it might be. With both sides matching each other so closely, it is looking increasingly likely that round 26 could be a blockbuster.
Central Coast Mariners almost caused something of a boilover against the league leaders last weekend, conceding for a draw on the point of full time, and will take great heart from that performance and result after the previous week’s loss at Marconi. Unfortunately for the Mariners, they will face a Sydney FC coming off a defeat and keen to make amends. But the Mariners are back into the finals mix, and they will be sure to give it their best shot.
Mounties Wanderers v Marconi Sunday 1pm Valentine Sports Park 2, Glenwood
With both Mounties and Marconi playing on Wednesday night, neither club will have too much of an advantage after the midweek exertions but for Marconi especially, it has been a busy period. Mounties will be hoping that just maybe, the travel and number of games may catch up with the Stallions, although Mirjan Pavlovic and Sean Rooney each had only about twenty minutes playing time last Sunday.
Marconi lost against Bankstown City in their rescheduled match which put paid to any feint hopes they may have had of pipping the top two. As it is, they are safely ensconced in finals calculations and with no double chance this season, it is doubtful whether there is an advantage between third and sixth. Be that as it may, the Stallions, facing their fifth game in fifteen days, won’t be giving anything but their best.
Rescheduled Matches – Round 16
Wednesday 3 August 2016
Mounties Wanderers v Spirit FC
Mounties and Spirit shared the points at Valentine Park, the result further cementing Mounties’ spot in the six while Spirit can see out the season in some comfort.
An early Grant Cornwell goal gave Spirit the lead and he secured his brace in the second half but Mounties replied through goals by Patrick Gatt and Matthew West. West scored his seventeenth goal of the season, a tally which sees the Mounties striker third on the league goalscoring ladder, with only Sydney FC’s Charles Lokolingoy and Bai Antoniou ahead. With Lokolingoy currently away, West may yet fancy his chances with a late run for the Golden Boot.
Mounties Wanderers 2 (Patrick Gatt, Matthew West) v Spirit FC 2 (Grant Cornwell 2)
Mounties Wanderers: 21. Luke Kairies 5. Patrick Gatt 6. Aleksandar Tomic 7. Neftali Gonzalez 9. Matthew West 11. Mitchell Davidson 17. Milorad Simonovic 19. Ben Ansah (20. Reid Taylor 13’, rep 35. Alex Boyadjian 41’) 22. Wade Oostendorp 28. George Codrea (25. Joseph Viera 83’) 32. Tayfun Devrimol.
Spirit FC: 51. David Lowery 2. Daniel Cunningham 4. Michael Streeter (3. Henry Wells 63’)
5. Andrew Robertson 6. Alexander Doyle (18. Brad Gibson 86’) 8. Grant Cornwell 10. Kim Changyu 13. Phillip Reilly 16. Mark McAlpine 19. Tom Lovell 21. Reuben Agyei-Danso (11. David Mavisa 63’).
Bankstown City v Marconi
The wet weather saw this match switched on game day from Jensen Park to Sydney United Sports Centre but the loss of home ground advantage didn’t seem to affect Bankstown City.
They came away with a 3-2 victory, thanks to a double from Chris Gomez and one from Grant Lynch.
Lions are now in a three way tie for third with Mounties Wanderers and Marconi, on 38 points.
Bankstown City 3 (Chris Gomez 2, Grant Lynch) v Marconi 2
Source FNSW - by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter