We’re set for another round of close contests in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition.
With three matches between teams in the top six, as well as a Derby, many of this weekend’s results could be in doubt until the final whistle.
Match of the Round: Western Sydney Wanderers FC v GHFA Spirit FC, 3pm Sunday 28th April, Sydney United Sports Centre
Our main game features the sides in first and third, as early pace setters Spirit FC travel to south west Sydney to face the current top dogs in Western Sydney Wanderers.
These teams are coming off hard-earned 2-1 victories, with the Wanderers squeaking past St George FC and Spirit surviving a late scare against Hills.
You can’t go past Mohamed Adam as the main threat for the Wanderers. Adam has scored in his last five games, which amazingly is not the longest scoring streak in the division (see below). However, the red & black are far from a one man band, and Marley Peterson has contributed five goals from midfield.
David Perkovic’s side also have a left footed goalscoring midfielder, with Louis Bozanic also reaching the five goal mark after his match winning double against Hills United. With ace Spirit marksman Duncan Stewart already netting eight for the campaign, both backlines are sure to face a stern test on Sunday.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v North Shore Mariners FC, 6pm Saturday 27th April, Bonnyrigg Sports Club
It’s sixth versus second at the Bonnyrigg Sports Club, and spectators should expect a tight affair, with both teams keeping four clean sheets in their last six games.
After a slow start, the White Eagles are now in the top six. No Bonnyrigg player has scored more than two goals this year, but their defensive quality means they haven’t needed too much firepower to get results so far.
However, that Bonnyrigg backline will be put to the test by NPL 2 top scorer Mitchell Smith. The North Shore striker was the first player to hit double figures for the season after another brace against Canterbury, scoring in his sixth consecutive game.
St George FC v St George City FA, 7pm Saturday 27th April, Ilinden Sports Centre
The first ever St George Derby! There might be a hint of desperation in this one, with both teams near the bottom of the ladder, but as per the cliché, form goes out the window in a derby.
The Saints have one point in their last five games, but with the likes of Matias da Silva Santos, Aleksandar Lekoski and Kevin Lopes to call upon, you get the feeling that they will soon move away from the foot of the table.
Meanwhile, City weren’t as bad as last week’s 4-0 loss to Mounties suggests, controlling the game for periods but not taking advantage.
The goals seem to have dried up for City, and this would be a perfect time for Steve Kuzmanovski to get back on the scoresheet, while Matthew Mayora’s leadership at the back will be crucial.
Hills United FC v Central Coast Mariners FC, 7pm Saturday 27th April, Lily Homes Stadium
Hills United head coach Patrick Zwaanswijk meets his old club for the first time on Saturday night, with his side currently in fourth, one place ahead of Central Coast.
United are on a run of four consecutive wins at Lily Homes Stadium, but their depth will be tested after red cards for Marcus Zarantonello and Glen Kelshaw against Spirit FC. On the plus side though, Daniel Fogarty, Jordan Parfait and Nathan Rayner have chipped in with their fair share of goals this year.
Central Coast have suspension issues of their own after Lewis Miller’s late red card against Macarthur, however with ten goals in their last three games, the Mariners have really started to fire in attack.
Six of the goals in that three game stretch have come from Dylan Ruiz-Diaz, who had a busy Easter weekend, making his A-League debut and then scoring a hat trick against Macarthur in the space of 24 hours.
Macarthur Rams FC v Canterbury Bankstown FC, 7pm Saturday 27th April, Lynwood Park
2019 has been a tough year for both sides, to say the least. Macarthur’s sole triumph was way back in Round 2 against Spartans, while Canterbury are yet to taste victory this season.
The Rams will be hoping that their home (synthetic) turf helps kick-start their campaign, and with most of their points and goals so far coming at Lynwood Park, they look to have the slight edge in this one.
Canterbury’s joy from their unexpected comeback against the Wanderers was short lived, with North Shore Mariners bringing them straight back down to earth. The one bright spot from last weekend was the return of Aaron D’Mello, and his experience in midfield will be vital if they are to climb the table.
Northern Tigers FC v Blacktown Spartans FC, 7pm Saturday 27th April, North Turramurra Recreation Area
Both teams are on the edge of the top six, separated only by goal difference.
With only one loss at home this year, the men from the northern suburbs are probably the favourites, especially with Joshua Swadling and Shervin Adeli banging in the goals.
Last weekend, Spartans looked to have been pegged back after Rydalmere scored in the 90th minute, but an injury time winner means their tails will be up for this one.
The Rooty Hill outfit have had their issues in attack this year, but multiple goals in each of their last two matches means they might have turned the corner in that respect.
Rydalmere Lions FC v Mounties Wanderers FC, 7pm, Saturday 27th April, Valentine Sports Park
Another clash between two sides just outside the finals places.
Defeat against Spartans was tough to take for Chris Camilleri’s men, so the Lions will be keen to go back to their (adopted) home venue after six away games in the opening eight rounds.
Rydalmere are very capable of extending their 100% win record at Valentine Sports Park, especially with the pace of Hassan Jalloh and Frederick Ankumah-Sey in attack.
So far this month, Mounties have had two wins and two losses. As Katy Perry might say, “they’re hot and they’re cold, they’re up and they’re down.”
Brian Brown will have been pleased both with a clinical performance and a first clean sheet of the year against St George City FA. His side is loaded with attacking talent, and if they can fire on a regular basis they will threaten any team in this division.
By Eric Subijano
Twitter – @eric_subijano
Source FNSW website