The Easter bunny pays a visit to the NPL 2 NSW Men’s this weekend. But whose delivery of eggs will include competition points and whose nest will be left empty?
Match of the Round:
Rydalmere Lions vs Canterbury Bankstown – Saturday 31st March – 7pm – Valentine Sports Park
It’s the first genuine ‘six-pointer’ of the season and the perfect choice for our Match of the Round for the festivities of football this Easter weekend. Canterbury Bankstown’s struggles this season have been as well documented as Steve Smith’s ball tampering.
After three rounds they were sitting bottom of the competition table, having failed to score a single goal. Something had to be done. And something was done.
Perry Moustakas stepped down from his role as player/coach making way for footballing icon, Branko Culina, to seize the wheel of this rapidly sinking ship.
After just one game, the improvement has been palpable. For starters, the Berries scored a goal. Despite less than impressive start to the season, there is a renewed sense of optimism in the Berries’ ranks, and there’s a growing belief that Branko Culina is just the man to re-light the flame that had begun to go out.
For Rydalmere, their debut season in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s competition has been hampered by inconsistency.
The Lions have enjoyed dizzying heights – their emphatic victory over rivals Parramatta FC at Melita Stadium; but they’ve also endured gloomy lows – a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Spirit FC.The result of this clash could very well be determined by which Rydalmere Lions team decides to show up.
Will it be the Amaury Gauthier, Michael Konestabo, Victor Anyimba and Ahmad Elrich at their clinical best?
Or will it be plagued by profligacy like in their clash last round against Western Sydney Wanderers?
With both teams struggling down the bottom of the table, this match promises to be of vital importance as each seeks three competition points that steers their side’s fortunes away from the perils of relegation.
Central Coast Mariners vs Macarthur Rams – Friday 30th March – 4pm – Valentine Sports Park
The Mariners were thoroughly impressive in their victory over the Northern Tigers last weekend.
Coupled with their Round 2 victory, the Central Coast Mariners haven’t conceded a goal since the opening weekend of the season.
This does not bode well for a Rams side who have the second worst attack in the league – mustering just 4 goals in their opening 4 games. However, what Macarthur do have in their favour is their physical prowess – especially when you consider the relatively young age of the Mariners team.
Could an all out physical assault be the key to unlocking a stern Mariners’ defence and securing Macarthur’s first points of the season?
Or will the fluent football of the Central Coast’s stars of tomorrow be enough to keep the Mariners marching up the competition table?
Northern Tigers vs GHFA Spirit FC – Friday 30th March – 7pm – North Turramurra Recreation Area
The Tigers were left licking their wounds this week after a heavy 4-0 defeat at home to the Central Coast Mariners. It was a defeat that halted all momentum the Tigers had generated with their positive start to the season. More than that however, it was a defeat that dragged the Tigers back into the cluster of 5 teams all stuck on 7 points. Despite this early stage of the season, it is clear that the race for a finals place will be closer than ever before. Whether the Northern Tigers end up playing football could come down to results in matches like this against a fellow top six rival – and that’s just what they have in Spirit FC.
David Perkovic’s side has made a fantastic start to the season – winning 3 out of their first 4 matches. The scoring ability of Spirit FC has been particularly impressive, led by Kevin Lopes.Lopes currently sits on 6 goals, a tally better than 4 teams in the competition.
If the Northern Tigers are to continue their push for a finals place, it will largely depend on whether captain Michael Rolston can keep Kevin Lopes quiet.
Rolston vs Lopes. Who will come out on top and fire their team to an important victory on Good Friday?
Blacktown Spartans vs Parramatta FC – Saturday 31st March – 7pm – Blacktown Football Park
“Hello darkness, my old friend”.
Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Sound of Silence’ can be heard ringing through the stands at Melita Stadium as another season of despair looms on the horizon at Parramatta. Many fans had thought the disappointment of 2017 was behind the club but it looks as though the troubles of last season have followed the Eagles, like an unwanted shadow, into the NPL 2.
For Blacktown Spartans, their opening round win against Macarthur seems like a long time ago. Consecutive heavy defeats against Northern Tigers and Spirit FC have seen the Spartans slip down the table.
Luis Contigiani’s side will be desperate to avoid being drawn into a relegation scrap and will therefore be doing all they can to secure three points at home against Parramatta FC this weekend.
St George FC vs North Shore Mariners – Saturday 31st March – 7pm – Linden Sports Centre
A disappointing result for St George last week in their top of the table clash against Mt Druitt. Although a week is a long time in football and the Saints, along with their Spanish Bandidos, will be using the misery of last week’s loss as fuel to stoke a fire in this match against the North Shore Mariners.
The North Shore Mariners have been relying on their own duo this season. The Smiths. Mitchell and Marquin. The pair go together like Salt & Vinegar or Light & Tangy. 5 goals between the pair in the opening 4 games of the season and the duo are emerging as the true masterminds behind the North Shore Mariners success so far this campaign.
It’s the Spanish Bandidos vs the Salt & Vinegar Smiths – who will come out on top?
Hills United FC vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers – Saturday 31st March – 7pm – Lily Homes Stadium
After a shaky start to the season, Hills United have found their feet. Two wins in their past two games and an undefeated streak which stretches to three games, Luke McGuire has got his side singing a merry tune.
When it comes to current form in the NPL 2, there really only is one team.
Mt Druitt Rangers have swept all before them thus far, storming to four straight wins, conceding only one goal in the process. Last week’s match against St George was meant to be the moment the bubble burst.
But the bubble just keeps growing and it’s headed straight for Hills United.
Will Mt Druitt make it five from five and extend their lead at the top or can Hills United continue their good form and cause one mighty upset to make it a very special Easter weekend.
Mounties Wanderers vs Western Sydney Wanderers – Sunday 1st April – 1pm – Sydney United Sports Centre
It’s the “Wanderers Derby”. For the first time this season, these two teams will face off to see who are the greatest wanderers of the land.
Perhaps the greatest factor in determining the answer to that question lies in the attacking talent each side possess.
The physiotherapists at the Western Sydney Wanderers have been doing extra work this week repairing the shoulders of Lachlan Scott and Abraham Majok – two players who have carried their team in the opening 4 rounds.
The Mounties will need to keep these two players quiet if they have any chance of securing three points in this match.
For Western Sydney, their efforts will be focussed on maintaining the threat of Mounties’ players, Matthew West, Mitchell Davidson and Tai Smith.
These players showed in last week’s convincing win over Parramatta FC that when they combine, incredible things happen.
A special Easter weekend of fixtures culminates with a special “Wanderers Derby” on Sunday afternoon as football fans soak up the incredible matches on offer in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s competition.
Source FNSW website - By Ryan Latty