The race for the glory of the Club Championship has got a whole lot hotter.
Whilst beneath, spots on the ladder are as thin as ice, one wrong step can cause things to come crushing down.
How will your team fare when the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s returns this weekend?
Match of the Round: Canterbury Bankstown FC vs. Parramatta FC – 7pm Saturday 11th August, The Crest Athletic Centre
The Berries have a tough run of fixtures this week. They kick off with a mid-week game against Western Sydney Wanderers (see preview below) and then back up again at home against Parramatta on Saturday.
Add to the mix suspensions and injuries, the ambitious Berries may be spread too thin to chase down a spot in the finals. The lads will still be up for the fight, putting misery on Parramatta will be a great way to cap off their run of fixtures this week.
The result against Western Sydney Wanderers this past weekend, shot another arrow through the wings of the Eagles.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Now may be the best time to throw all caution to the wind and go down fighting.
Will we see the Eagles soar one last time?
St George FC vs. Northern Tigers FC – 7pm Saturday 11th August, Ilinden Sports Centre
Based on recent form, St George are arguably the current team to beat in the league.
The Saints have found a great balance in each of their last games, combining patience with precision, striking at the optimal moment whilst the iron is hot.
Onward they march to the finals, will they strike again?
Tigers have been wounded somewhat through the past few fixtures but are still lurking. They still pose a threat and will be unwilling to relinquish their spot on the ladder.
Converting their chances will be critical in this fixture.
The mission is simple, take out number 2 on the ladder and maintain in a place for the finals.
Hills United vs. Blacktown Spartans – 7pm Saturday 11th August, Lily Homes Stadium
Hills must have felt they stepped on a black cat this past week after twice giving up the lead in the draw to Mounties plus losing players to injuries and suspension.
They return to home this week with a chance to leapfrog into a finals spot. It’s a positive outlook that may give them the edge in this one.
Can they muster enough and inflict some pain on lowly Spartans?
Spartans fought valiantly against St George but on the night just couldn’t convert their opportunities.
5 teams are still battling to avoid the wooden spoon and Spartans are currently candidate number one.
Building on their performance from last week, will the threat of the spoon whip them into gear?
Mt Druitt Town Rangers vs. GHFA Spirit FC – 7pm Saturday 11th August, Popondetta Park
The Rangers defeating Central Coast this past weekend has put them in prime contention to grab the Premiership and Club Championship double. With a singular point this weekend, the yellow and green of Mt Druitt can be flown proudly off the prized Premiership.
Expect more no-nonsense football from Rangers in this one. Sticking to the game plan and playing effective football has seen them come this far and it is not about to stop now.
Spirit grabbed a winner deep into a hard-fought game against Berries which takes them within a point of the last finals place. This weekend they can spoil the league leaders party and squeeze into the top 6.
They will be fuelled by their recent winning form and now is the perfect time to claim they belong in the mix for the big dance.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Macarthur Rams – 7pm Saturday 11th August, Sydney United Sports Centre
At last the Wanderers connected all the dots in their performance and got a well-deserved win. It had been coming for some time and the young lads in red and black must feel a huge sigh of relief.
With the double fixture this week, it will be a challenge this late in the season, but a chance to knock back the Rams into bottom spot will certainly be a boost to keep the spirits lifted.
Macarthur refuse to be crowned with the wooden spoon. They formed up stopping the Lions, and with their singular point they managed to climb off the bottom of the ladder.
It will be a feeling of liberation for the Rams and now they will only be looking onwards and upwards.
Can they take advantage of the Wanderers playing the additional mid-week game and find themselves even further up the table?
Rydalmere Lions FC vs. Mounties Wanderers FC – 7pm Saturday 11th August, Valentine Sports Park
After being unable to snatch a win against the Rams, the Lions return to their den and will be on high alert to ward off any incoming threat.
That threat is coming from every angle.
One word of advice, don’t back a Lion into the corner.
Mounties have been looking promising and after finding their shooting boots this past week they will be full of confidence.
A final few tweaks could see them hunt down the hunter and really spice things up in the finals mix.
Will the roar of the Lions fend off Mounties, or can the visitors make a raid and push for top 6?
North Shore Mariners vs. Central Coast Mariners – 4pm Sunday 12th August, Northbridge Oval
Little brother versus big brother.
North Shore take on counter parts Central Coast this weekend.
After grinding out to a draw in the derby against Tigers last weekend, it did little to liven the spirits heading into the last 3 rounds. Now, North Shore will be focused and itching to get some revenge for the heavy defeat they suffered earlier in the year at the hands of big brother.
They could inflict some serious damage in this fixture, expect some heavy blows to be thrown.
Central Coast hold on to the Club Championship by the finest of margins and there is no way they will give little brother a chance to let that slip.
A trip away from home might be just what the yellow and navy need to find the winning formula.
Expect this one to be like the old rough and tumble in the backyard.
Round 25 Preview: Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Canterbury Bankstown FC – 7:30pm Wednesday 8th August, Valentine Sports Park
Mid-week fixtures are amongst the toughest a competition such as the NPL 2 has on offer.
When squads are now on the verge of looking like skeletons, it’s a tough ask for any team who have the ambition of chasing down a spot for the finals.
If last week’s results weren’t a tell-tale sign, a mid-week fixture this late in the season will be.
One goal is all it takes.
With both sides wanting to conserve as much energy as possible, it could be an early goal that seals the deal in this one.
Source FNSW website - By Marcus Flottmann