After the aches of returning to work we can finally look forward to the weekend and another round of high quality football.
There will be more goals, clashes for finals spots and perhaps the decider for the wooden spoon.
What else will be conjured up this week in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s?
Match of the Round: St George FC vs. Mounties Wanderers – 7pm Saturday 28th July, Ilinden Sports Centre
The match of the round is sure to see some sparks fly and it feels as if there is more at stake than just the 3 points in this one.
We will have to wait and see whether that comes from the tension between the sides or the fleet feet and intensity of the players on the field
As the Saints march into Ilinden Sports Centre this week, there will be nothing else on their mind other than putting Mounties to the sword. Averaging almost 3 goals a game is an incredible feat and there is no doubt the Saints game plan will be to continue their dominance in the final third.
Mounties grabbed a much needed win against the high flying North Shore Mariners and it keeps them in contention for finals with 5 games remaining. Having kept a clean sheet in 4 out of their last 5 games, they will be confident in stemming the Saints goal threat. Coach Palapanis will be laying the foundations for his men to upset another team from the top 3 for the second week in a row.
Hills United vs. Rydalmere Lions – 7pm Saturday 28th July, Lily Homes Stadium
Hills have dropped out of the top 6 and now find themselves sitting in 7th place, one below the Lions. They haven’t put together the best of performances the past few weeks but they are due for a win. Can they find their muster and get themselves back in a spot for the finals?
Despite the loss last week, results favoured the Lions and find themselves sitting in 6th spot on the ladder. With four teams still gunning for the last few places in the finals, it will take some discipline and a dose of experience from coach Tony Basha to get his young Lions over the line in this one.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers vs. Northern Tigers – 7pm Saturday 28th July, Popondetta Park
The engraver must surely have the stencil ready to write the Rangers into the history books, as the they don’t look like they can be beaten.
The early fright against Spartans last week only seemed to kick Rangers into overdrive and once they quickly equalised they began to dominate and find ways to win. Not just the match, but the battles all over the park. A cohesiveness seems to emanate in the air whenever Rangers step onto the field, each player fighting for his mate. A win at home will take them within one hand’s reach of the Premiership.
In the last two rounds Northern Tigers have found their bite and game by game are hunting down the top 4. They were a class above Berries last week but come up against much stronger opposition this round. If they keep up their form, they look destined for a top 4 finish and taking down number 1 will send them well on their way.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs. GHFA Spirit FC – 7pm Saturday 28th July, Sydney United Sports Centre
The Wanderers were largely unconvincing in their performance last week and were comfortably defeated. Still, the young side showed glimpses that they are competitive and can be a threat to any side. It will be a tough ask now to make the finals, however, kicking off with a win this week would see the jump above Spirit, that and few other results going their way, we could see a late surge from the red and black.
Spirit spurned a great opportunity at home to keep well in the race for finals contention. The goals were raining at Christie Park and the big positives Spirit will take away was the ability to fight back from 2 goals and a man down to rescue a point, plus netting 4 to do so. Knowing they have the firepower and will to win, it is a matter of putting all the pieces together to keep the Wanderers at bay and edge closer to the finals.
Canterbury Bankstown vs. Central Coast Mariners – 7pm Saturday 28th July, The Crest Athletic Centre
The Berries find themselves in somewhat a barren no man’s land. Mathematically they could still make the finals but they are more in danger from the teams below trying to escape the grips of the wooden spoon. A return to home this week will give a much needed boost for the Berries who are edging on desperation for a win.
Onwards and upwards for the young Mariners side who still are nipping at the heels of the league leaders. Currently in superb form, looking calm, collected and showing poise well beyond their years. Striving to dominate more in the final third, they will be aiming to pick up more points and begin to mount a final assault on top spot.
North Shore Mariners vs. Blacktown Spartans – 3:30pm Sunday 29th July, Northbridge Oval
The North Shore Mariners were shaken last week and the loss sees them drop down to 4th on the ladder. They are still well in the race to secure a top 3 finish and a return to home will give them an advantage this week. Can they bounce back with a win and put some pressure on the teams above?
The Spartans did almost enough to grab a point against the league leaders last week. Despite the loss, they will be full of confidence after their impressive performance. If they can put together a similar display they will be tough competition and a win would do some serious good in their battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
Parramatta FC vs. Macarthur Rams – 7pm Sunday 29th July, Melita Stadium
It is a battle at the bottom of the table that could go either way. The shadow of the wooden spoon is looming but worse than that, so is relegation.
Parramatta produced a stunning display against Spirit last week, bagging 4 goals and can consider themselves unlucky they didn’t grab the win. They will need more of the same if they are to put space between themselves and last place and gain some much needed traction in their quest to climb off the bottom of the Club Championship.
Macarthur’s 2 win run came to an abrupt stop last week in a game that produced little to liven the spirits. Whilst they did earn a point it was still not enough to seem them climb off the bottom of the ladder. Seeing Parramatta concede 4 last week will give them some confidence, can they take advantage and exploit a leaky defence?
Source FNSW website - BY Marcus Flottmann