It’s Round 10 and it’s time to stand up and be counted.
We highlight the key men each club needs to perform if they are to achieve success and avoid failure in the most competitive season of NPL 2 NSW Men’s football in recent years.
Match of the Round:
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Parramatta FC – 3pm, Sunday 6th May – Sydney United Sports Centre
Despite their geographical proximity, it’s been a tale of two very different cities for Parramatta FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers, in recent weeks.
The Wanderers are unbeaten in 6 games – a run in form that has seen them shoot up the competition table and into the finals’ places.
Another positive for the boys in red and black, is the burden of goals is no longer falling on Scott and Majok.
Kosta Grozos scored twice in their 2-1 victory over Spirit FC last round, taking his tally to four for the season, and Mohamed Adam and Tass Mourdoukoutas have chipped in with goals.
And it’s these performances, coupled with impressive wins over Mounties and Spirit FC, that has many fans of the NPL 2 NSW Men’s suggesting the Wanderers are the league’s greatest challengers to Mt Druitt.
By contrast, Parramatta FC’s season is imploding faster than you can say NPL 3.
Currently the Eagles are locked in a cluster of teams fighting for survival down the bottom of the table and the club championship standings.
With three teams facing the relegation axe this season, Parramatta need to start picking up wins urgently if they are to avoid a Sunderland F.C style collapse.
One man who has the ability and experience to steer them away from such a perilous path is Jason Trifiro. The former Western Sydney Wanderers man was earmarked as a landmark signing for the Eagles at the start of the year, but the midfielder has struggled to assert his influence on games.
With his team crying out for inspiration and a match against his former employers awaiting – the time is now for Trifiro to triumph.
Be sure to check out all the action this weekend in Football NSW’s Match of the Round in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s.
St George FC vs Blacktown Spartans – 7pm, Saturday 5th May – Ilinden Sports Centre
Two straight defeats for St George has seen them slip 7 points behind leaders, Mt Druitt.
But Saints fans will be hoping the slippery slide will be no more under new coach, Wally Savor.
Savor took charge of his first match last week against Mounties and used the opportunity to assess the current state of his squad.
“This week was an opportunity to observe the players to see where they’re at and where we need to be”, remarked Savor.
He will no doubt be pleased by the welcome return to form of Raul Beneit Romero.
The silky midfielder with a haircut reminiscent of a young Sergio Ramos, started the season with three goals in three matches.
But a dry spell between Rounds 4 and 8 yielded only one goal and it’s no surprise that it was during those rounds that St George lost two matches.
When Raul Romero plays well, so does his team.
But Savor will need to answer the Juan Carlos Romero question.
Where do you play him?
As a lone striker he looked isolated last week.
Savor brought on Aleksander Lekoski to partner Romero up top last week and it seemed to create more openings for the Saints but left them outnumbered in midfield.
Do you play Juan Carlos Romero out wide on the left?
But can you really afford to sacrifice the quality he brings through the middle?
It’s a conundrum for Savor and one that he needs to answer quickly if St George are to get back to their best.
New Spartans coach, Nick Porreca, has to answer very different, but equally important questions.
How do you stop the torrent of goals being conceded?
The Spartans have conceded 3 goals in four of their last five games.
Simply, you cannot expect to win games of football if you concede an average of 3 per game.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, St George is definitely not a team you want to be facing when experiencing defensive frailties.
Expect goals in this game as two coaches go searching for answers that could prove the difference between success and failure for their respective clubs this season.
Canterbury Bankstown vs GHFA Spirit FC – 7pm, Saturday 5th May – The Crest Athletic Centre
In the greatest example of irony since Alanis Morissette wrote a song about irony that wasn’t actually ironic, Spirit FC look a team totally devoid of…
One win in five games is beyond bleak for a team who invested heavily in recruits in the summer.
Perhaps at the root of their losing streak is their inability to score goals.
Just two goals in four games is a drought that concerns even the farmers in Western NSW – and emblematic of that problem is the form of Kevin Lopes.
Scoring goals for fun in the opening rounds, Lopes has managed just one goal in his past five games.
When Lopes has scored, Spirit have won 3 of 4 games.
The answer is so clear it almost goes without saying.
If Spirit FC are going to end this barren run, Lopes has to score and play well.
Ending barren runs is the speciality of Berries’ coach, Branko Culina.
Endearingly labelled the ‘godfather’ of NPL 2 coaching, Culina is performing miracles at The Crest Athletic Centre.
But with the form of fellow relegation rivals improving, the Berries cannot afford to relent in their quest for improvement.
If they manage to collect all three points at home on Saturday night, it could drag Spirit FC into the relegation scrap and the Berries set free.
But fail to win and the shadow of NPL 3 football looms larger and larger.
Rydalmere Lions vs Macarthur Rams – 7pm, Saturday 5th May – Valentine Sports Park
What Rydalmere Lions team will turn up this week?
It’s a question I’ve asked before and one that I don’t even think Rydalmere can answer.
If you look up ‘Rydalmere Lions’ in the Dictionary, the last two week’s results would be the definition you’d read.
A 4-0 win over St George, followed up by a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Hills United.
What makes Rydalmere’s chances of bouncing back from that thrashing by United is the suspension to key midfielder Michael Konestabo. The artistic midfielder provides a key link between the Lions’ midfield and attack. His absence is sure to leave a ’10-shaped’ hole at the centre of the park.
The Rams come into this game in season-best form.
Two wins from their past three games has Rams’ fans believing there really is a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
And the man cutting an Indiana Jones like figure leading the charge through the dark tunnel and towards the light is Mark Symington.
With 6 goals so far this season, Symington is proving to be a genuine diamond in the Lynwood Park rough.
Can the Rams pick up another three points in their quest for survival or will Rydalmere decide they want to turn up this week and play to the potential we all (especially St George) know they’re capable of?
North Shore Mariners vs Northern Tigers – 3:30pm, Sunday 6th May – Northbridge Oval
Labelled the “Great Northern Derby” – as of this moment – in a name that even Kanye’s paternal instincts would approve of, this clash between North Shore Mariners and the Northern Tigers has all the makings of a derby classic.
In similar positions on the table, harbouring similar ambitious intentions of playing finals’ football, neither willing to back down from a fight – bring it on.
The Northern Tigers became just the second team in the league to take points off Mt Druitt this year, earning a 2-2 draw at North Turramurra Oval.
But away from the comforts of their Turramurra home, the Tigers only have a solitary win agains the Berries to speak of.
North Shore will be eager to return to Northbridge Oval after their magical last-minute victory against the Mounties in Round 8.
Can the Tigers secure all three points away from their natural habitat or will the Mariners prove they are the team heading in the right direction in the NPL 2’s Great Northern Derby?
Hills United vs Mounties Wanderers – 7pm, Saturday 5th May – Lily Homes Stadium
Blink and you would’ve missed it.
With our collective attention focussed on the glut of goals from Mt Druitt or the scintillating Spanish skill of St George, Hills United have snuck their way into second spot on the table.
United’s form has been largely due to the brilliant start to the season from winger, Daniel Fogarty.
With 5 goals from 9 games, Fogarty is one of the leading goal scorers from midfield in the league and his assists have proven equally as crucial to his team.
But Luke McGuire’s squad haven’t just relied on attacking brilliance to be where they are.
Luke Turnbull in goals has produced some incredible saves this season – none more so than the De Gea like efforts to secure all three points against the Rams two weeks ago.
Whilst Mounties’ form cannot be described as ‘consistent’, like Hills, it certainly is resurgent.
Coinciding with Palapanis’s appointment, the Wanderers are starting to look like the finals’ contenders we were told they were at the beginning of the year.
If the Wanderers are going to make the finals, they’ll need the leadership of Tomislav Mijic to guide them.
The NPL 2’s very own Nemanja Vidic looked a tower of strength and composure last week against St George and Palapanis will be looking for him to inspire his team on the park.
With two teams harbouring finals’ hopes, this clash is sure to be a fierce battle.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers vs Central Coast Mariners – 3pm, Sunday 6th May – Poppondetta Park
I’ve got to stop myself from drooling when I ponder this fixture.
Two teams at the peak of their powers, two teams that play enthralling football, two teams that embody NPL football at its very best – going head-to-head on Sunday afternoon at Poppondetta Park.
The statistics don’t lie, Mt Druitt have been the best team so far this season.
Fewest goals conceded, most goals scored.
But there’s one statistic that only Mt Druitt and the Mariners share.
Both are yet to taste defeat.
Something has to give as two unblemished records face off against each other in Round 10 of the NPL 2 NSW Men’s.
Source FNSW website -By Ryan Latty