Round 14 of the IGA National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 kicks off this Saturday with a number of interesting clashes scheduled including the Match of the Round between the Bonnyrigg White Eagles taking on Sydney United 58 FC.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Sydney United 58, 2pm Sunday at Bonnyrigg Sports Centre
It is fast becoming clear that Bonnyrigg White Eagles could be one of the teams to beat this season and were it not for their slow start to the year, they could well be leading the pack.
They are knitted together by a strong defence, lead strongly between the sticks by Matthew Nash, who is enjoying a vintage season in goal.
Although they have lost Mitchell Long, they have striking options aplenty with Robbie Younis and Aaron Peterson both proven goal scorers at this level.
“Bomber” Brown’s side have proven extremely resilient in the last two months, rarely conceding and always finding a way to goal.
For United this is not a vintage season and they have struggled to put together a run of results when they do manage to get a win.
Coach Mark Rudan seems to have altered his approach slightly and his biggest task at the moment is accommodating the attacking trio of Mirjan Pavlovic, Alec Urosevski and club captain Luka Glavas – it may well be that one must miss out.
Rudan will also be without Theo Kofinas and goalkeeper Diego Barcena, after they were sent off for an incident with each other at half time of the round 13 loss to Rockdale City Suns.
But in derby matches like these, often form goes out the window.
Round 14 Preview
APIA-Leichhardt Tigers v Manly United, 7:45pm Saturday at Lambert Park
APIA just cannot seem to find the back of the net with the regularity they need to move themselves up the table.
There is still hope though, as any team with the firepower of Blake Powell and Joe Gibbs is sure to click at some point. They went down last week to Marconi, but again APIA spurned a hatful of chances.
Manly meanwhile remain bottom after only two wins this season, and they are three points adrift of second from bottom St George.
They are leaking goals like it’s going out of fashion and they really need to tighten up at the back. Teams near them have started to get themselves together, and Manly must too if they are to avoid being cast adrift at the foot of the table.
Sutherland Sharks v St George, 7:30pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw Park
Sutherland Sharks host St George in another local derby and they will need to play much better than they did last weekend in Wollongong.
The Sharks were off the pace from the outset at WIN Stadium and never really looked like scoring against a well organised Wolves outfit. Robbie Stanton and his side have work to do if they are to reverse that this week against a St George side battling to keep its head above water in their debut Mens 1 season.
Manny Spanoudakis’ side have the capacity to surprise, but they must beware the wounded beast as Sutherland will have plenty to prove after back-to-back defeats.
Sydney Olympic v South Coast Wolves, 3pm Sunday at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic claim a sizeable scalp last weekend, that of Blacktown Spartans at Blacktown Football Park, while Wolves claimed that of Sutherland.
They are two big results for sides not expected to feature in the shake-up in 2014, although their respective coaches Grant Lee and Nahuel Arrarte deserve immense credit for the work they have done so far.
Lee has his effervescent young side playing attractive football and getting some more than decent results along the way, while Arrarte has got Wolves playing a style based on hard work and commitment, and one that has seen them start to climb the table in recent weeks.
This is an intriguing match up between two of the league’s most interesting teams.
Rockdale City Suns v Blacktown Spartans, 3pm Sunday at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City defeated nine-man Sydney United last week, but they did lead 3-1 at the break after 45’ minutes of 11v11 football. Branko Culina was not happy that they did not manage to really put United to the sword in the second half, which in a way has been the story of their season.
As always though, the strike duo of Tadgh Purcell and Nick Taneski are capable of scoring, while young winger Sean Symons is enjoying a real breakthrough season at this level.
Spartans lost their third match of the season against Olympic, going down 1-0 in the first half before peppering Paul Henderson with shots, none of which breached his defences. It was a frustrating exercise, but at the top of the table it is one you have to come to expect.
They face a tough assignment against Rockdale, who are a side genuinely capable of beating any in the league.
Blacktown City v Marconi Stallions, 3pm Sunday at Lilys Football Centre
Blacktown City are now only two points behind Spartans and are really starting to turn up the heat.
Their strikeforce of Ryuji Miyazawa and Travis Major, plus the addition of the speedy Mitchell Mallia, has really seen Blacktown City turn some heads this season.
They are well marshalled at the back by Zac Cairncross, while young defender Shayne D’Cunha has been a revelation since coming into the first team, even if he looks slightly odd wearing the number 10 shirt at right back.
Stallions are a capable side on their day, but they are an inconsistent bunch.
James Chronopoulos is enjoying a vintage season in goal and Matthew Thompson has added much needed experience in midfield, but new coach Paul Carter still has much work to do in the second half of the season.
– By Matthew Lopez, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Editor