Football only lasts for 90 minutes.
But the consequences of any one match can last a season, and even a lifetime.
Which teams will take another step towards glory and which teams will fall closer to despair as another unmissable round of the NPL 2 NSW Men’s kicks off.
Match of the Round:
Macarthur Rams vs Canterbury Bankstown – 7pm, Saturday 26th May – Lynwood Park
In the fight for survival, the most important games are against the teams around you on the table.
Beat those teams and you not only keep them down but propel yourself up.
In this monumental battle between two sides at the wrong end of the competition table, the outcome could have a significant say on where each side finishes come the end of the season.
Macarthur’s dangers are well know: Mark Symington and Sam Onana Awono. Both of these players have been in scintillating form recently and the Rams faithful at Lynwood Park will be relying on them to rescue them from the relegation danger they currently find themselves in.
For Canterbury Bankstown, they boast a number of threats across the park. But the form of Jake Bradshaw, fresh off his McDouble last week, will surely be a problem for the Rams’ defenders.
This game is just 90 minutes but the consequences for the result will last much, much longer than that.
Central Coast Mariners vs Hills United – 6pm, Saturday 26th May – Pluim Park
Since Round, 1 the competition table has had a familiar look to it, with Mt Druitt Rangers sitting comfortably on top.
But is that about to change?
The Central Coast Mariners have been steadily chipping away at their lead – which now stands at just two points.
And with the Mariners still yet to taste defeat this season and on a 3-game winning streak, many expect that lead won’t last much longer.
Hills United are on a similar unbeaten run, having not lost in 5 games.
But despite their unbeaten run, Hills have slipped from second down to fourth in the league standings.
Consecutive draws against teams lower than them in the table has seen the Brumbies pegged back to the chasing pack.
And with the teams at the top are setting such a frenetic pace, it’s essential that if you want to play finals that you keep on winning.
So with the competition at the top of the table fiercer than ever before, which of these teams can withstand the heat and which one should get out of the kitchen?
Blacktown Spartans vs Mounties Wanderers – 7pm, Saturday 26th May – Blacktown Football Park
That’s how long it was between Blacktown Spartans’ first and second victories of the season.
Fans of the Spartans will be hoping they don’t have to wait quite as long for another one.
But they welcome a Mounties Wanderers team with a point to prove, on Saturday night.
After a host of mid-season signings, the Wanderers were left frustrated last week as they could only manage a draw against lowly Macarthur Rams.
The Spartans would have studied the footage of that game, trying to learn how the Rams were able to stifle such an impressive attack.
Will Blacktown be able to nullify the attacking threat of the Romero Bandidos and make it two wins in a row for the first time this season?
Or will the Mounties finally click and begin their push for a finals’ place?
GHFA Spirit FC vs St George FC – 7pm, Saturday 26th May – Christie Park
It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet, but the Club Championship table doesn’t make kind reading for Spirit FC.
Sitting second last, just 10 points above Parramatta FC, Spirit are in a precarious position.
After a solid start to the season, Spirit have lost four in a row.
But it’s the manner of the defeats which is particularly concerning.
They’re without a goal in 180 minutes and have conceded an average of just over 3 goals per game for their past three games.
But the recent addition of Matthew West, an experienced and deadly striker, will surely help to reverse this worrying trend.
West loves playing St George, too.
His last game against them saw him score two goals to lead his former side, Mounties, to an unexpected victory.
Can West lead his new team to another unlikely victory and break the Christie curse?
Northern Tigers vs Rydalmere Lions – 7pm, Saturday 26th May – North Turramurra Recreation Area
The Elrich boys are gone but have they taken the Lions’ finals’ hopes with them?
Zak Elrich steered his new side, Parramatta FC, to victory over Mt Druitt last week. Whilst on the very same night, the Lions suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against the Blacktown Spartans.
The significance wasn’t lost on anyone.
Rydalmere have relied heavily on Zak Elrich this season and it will be a difficult task for anyone to fill his brilliant boots.
The Tigers have problems of their own.
Without a win since Round 8, they find themselves on the outside looking in at the the teams currently in a finals’ place.
Lions vs Tigers – a battle of the two great predators but currently a battle of two great strugglers in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers – 3pm, Sunday 27th May – Sydney United Sports Centre
Oh how quickly things change in football.
After blitzing the competition for the first 9 Rounds, Mt Druitt have come spectacularly crashing back to earth.
Two defeats in three weeks – including an humiliating defeat to Parramatta FC has seen their grip on the competition loosen dramatically.
Can they return to the form that caught the eye of so many at the beginning of the season?
It’s a tough question and one made even more difficult by their opponents in this match.
The Western Sydney Wanderers look unstoppable at the moment.
9 games unbeaten, scoring goals for fun; along with the Central Coast Mariners, the Wanderers are the form team of the competition.
Two titanic teams clash in this fixture, who will hit an ice-berg and sink, and who will swim?
Parramatta FC vs North Shore Mariners – 7pm, Sunday 27th May – Melita Stadium
The Eagles are back.
But are they here to stay?
Last weekend’s comprehensive 3-0 win over league leaders Mt Druitt reminded all football fans just how excellent the Eagles can be.
Matthew Lecce and Zak Elrich zipped around the wing, perfectly complimenting the brute power of Neram Yalda up front.
But the true highlight of the game was the performance of Yahya Elhindi. The centre midfielder signed from Sydney Olympic bossed the game against Mt Druitt and provided his team with the link between defence and attack – one they have sorely missed all season.
But the North Shore Mariners are in decent form also.
The match against their coastal cousins is really the only blip in a strong run of form that has seen them beat the Northern Tigers and the Mounties Wanderers.
Are Parramatta here to stay or was last week a rare ray of light in a dark storm?
The side also made a string of signings boosting their stocks for the second half of the season with former Socceroo Ahmad Elrich leaving Rydalmere Lions returning home along with former NPL sharpshooter Hussein Jasli.
Find out in another fantastic round of football in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s.
Source FNSW - By Ryan Latty