With only two points separating the top four sides, the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition is as close as ever.
Round 8 has six games on Easter Saturday, but our Match of the Round will be on Sunday, when Central Coast Mariners host Macarthur Rams.
Match of the Round: Central Coast Mariners v Macarthur Rams, 4pm Sunday 21st April, Pluim Park
It’s been a mixed start for Central Coast as they look to make the finals for the third year in a row.
Two wins from the opening seven games will be a disappointment for Ray Junna’s young men, but at least they can take some positives from last weekend after a late equaliser from Dylan Ruiz-Diaz secured a point against Bonnyrigg.
Macarthur’s winless run now stands at five games, but there are positives after the way they hung on for a draw with 10 men on Saturday against St George FC.
Rams coach Claudio Canosa will be hoping his side can boost their attack in the coming weeks after scoring only four times in the opening seven games.
North Shore Mariners v Canterbury Bankstown, 3pm Saturday 20th April, Northbridge Oval
The round begins with a Saturday afternoon game just north of the Harbour Bridge, as North Shore Mariners host Canterbury Bankstown.
Confidence will be high for Joe Haywood’s men after last Sunday night, when Mitchell Smith’s first half header took them to a 1-0 win against St George City FA and into second place.
Canterbury are still looking for their first victory, but they’ll be happy after salvaging a 2-2 result with Western Sydney Wanderers on the weekend.
That was the first time Canterbury had scored multiple goals in a game since the epic 5-5 draw with Mounties in Round 1, and they’ll be hoping that Toshihisa Saikawa can repeat the kind of form that saw him find the net against the Wanderers.
Blacktown Spartans v Rydalmere Lions, 7pm Saturday 20th April, Blacktown Football Park
Spartans have started the year in inconsistent fashion, and a lack of goals has been a concern for Paul Hubbard’s young side. However, coming from behind twice to draw with Spirit FC could be just the confidence boost they need, especially with Rydalmere having the joint-third best defence in the division.
The Lions are also coming off a good result after their 2-1 win over Northern Tigers, one which propelled them into fifth place. Things are looking up for Rydalmere now as Hassan Jalloh has started to hit some goalscoring form, with three goals in his last five games.
GHFA Spirit FC v Hills United, 7pm Saturday 20th April, Christie Park
Spirit FC will be hoping to rediscover that winning feeling after three games without a victory, but their attack is in good working order, with Duncan Stewart getting yet another goal to open the scoring on Saturday.
However, it’s another tough assignment for the men from Christie Park as they face in-form Hills United. The north-west Sydney outfit have five wins in their last six games, and with the Giovenali brothers patrolling the midfield, as well as the lightning-fast Daniel Fogarty up front, United are sure to be a stern test for any side.
St George FC v Western Sydney Wanderers, 7pm Saturday 20th April, Ilinden Sports Centre
St George FC are probably still wondering how they didn’t leave Lynwood Park with all three points last Saturday, and it doesn’t get any easier for the defending Champions as they host league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers, still looking for their second victory of the year.
However, the Wanderers will be ruing missed opportunities of their own, with last week’s 2-0 halftime lead against Canterbury turning into a 2-2 stalemate by the final whistle.
On the plus side for the Red & Black, Mohamed Adam continues to find the net, and he (along with Mitchell Smith and Duncan Stewart) tops the NPL 2 scoring charts with an impressive tally of eight goals.
Northern Tigers v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 7pm Saturday 20th April, North Turramurra Recreation Area
Bonnyrigg will make the trip north with a spring in their step – the White Eagles are now undefeated in five games after a 1-0 victory in their midweek catchup game against Mounties, only conceding once in that time.
This will be Tigers sixth home game in the first eight rounds, and the northern suburbs outfit will be looking for more home comforts after an away defeat to Rydalmere last weekend.
Despite the defeat, new signing Joshua Swadling continues to catch the eye, and the former Central Coast United winger leads his team with five goals.
Mounties Wanderers v St George City FA, 7pm, Saturday 20th April, Sydney United Sports Centre
Mounties had started to find some form after two wins in a row, but have hit a setback with losses to Hills and Bonnyrigg that have rung some alarm bells at the club considering the players they bought in the off-season.
Nevertheless, Matthew West has a long history of banging in the goals at this level, and with six for the season, he will be the one to watch for Mounties.
Meanwhile, St George City have a six-goal hero of their own in former Young Socceroo Steve Kuzmanovski. However, with no other City player scoring more than once so far, the newly-promoted side will be looking to attacking talent in the form of John McGuigan and Kerim Kumsuz to help ease the burden.
-By Eric Subijano
Twitter – @eric_subijano
Source FNSW website