FOUR team remain unbeaten as we head into the third round of the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1.
Two of those go head to head in this week’s Match of the Round as Sydney Olympic host Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
Sydney Olympic v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 3pm SUNDAY at Belmore Sports Ground
First hosts second in this week’s Match of the Round, but over the first fortnight of the season there is nothing to separate Sydney Olympic and Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
Both sides have scored seven goals in two matches and neither goalkeeper, Paul Henderson for Sydney Olympic, or Bonnyrigg’s James Chronopoulos, has conceded a goal.
Olympic’s side is built around the dual attacking talents of go Shirai and Taiga Soeda, who keep attack after attack ticking over in the middle of the park. Dimitri Hatzimouratis too, has started the season in fine form up front and is relishing the service he is being provided.
Bonnyrigg though are a class act and once again look to be one of the competition’s benchmarks, even though it is early days.
Robbie Younis is as reliable as ever in front of goal, while Aaron Peterson is thriving on the opportunities he is receiving as Younis’ strike partner.
It is the signing of Chronopoulos that is arguably Bonnyrigg’s biggest off season coup, however. having been at the Marconi Stallions since the under 10s, Chronopoulos made the big move to leave his childhood club in favour of a move to the White Eagles, who needed to replace the ever-consistent Matthew Nash. The early signs are that this move is one that will hugely benefit both parties.
ROUND 3 PREVIEW
Blacktown Spartans v Sydney United 58 FC, 7.30pm SATURDAY at Blacktown Football Park
Spartans are at home for the second week running as they host Sydney United 58 FC on Saturday night.
Ben de Haan’s side will take plenty of confidence from their come-from-behind win against Rockdale City Suns last weekend. The Spartans came from 2-0 down to win 4-2, largely thanks to a hat trick from Shu Sasaki, signed in the off-season from the Marconi Stallions.
United meanwhile brushed off their opening round loss to Blacktown City, beating Sutherland Sharks in last week’s Match of the Round. They gave away two penalties in that game though, so they will need to cut out that sort of sloppiness at the back in time for this clash.
Marconi Stallions v APIA-Leichhardt Tigers, 7.30pm SATURDAY at Marconi Stadium
Hostilities will be renewed in the Italian derby this weekend, with Marconi hosting APIA-Leichhardt.
APIA traditionally don’t travel well to Bossley Park, but they arrive this season in a position of strength, as one of the four sides with a perfect record in 2015.
Franco Parisi has three goals in two matches and has been mercurial in the first fortnight, while Billy McColl was ruthless in replacing Ryan Norval with Andrew Bazi between the sticks last weekend. Bazi, who was outstanding last season, responded with an excellent performance in the comfortable win against Manly.
Marconi lost their two best players from last season, goalkeeper Chronopoulos and playmaker Sasaki, and both have excelled at their new clubs.
The Stallions will have the advantage of being at home though, and they will not want to go down to their long time rivals.
Sutherland Sharks v South Coast Wolves, 7.30pm SATURDAY at Seymour Shaw Park
Sutherland host South Coast Wolves in a local derby on Saturday night in Miranda.
The Sharks were enterprising and at times unlucky against Sydney United 58 FC in the Match of the Round last week, spurning a number of opportunities early on and also missing two penalties. Sean O’Connell saw his saved by Justin Pasfield, and Seongjin Park hit the post.
There was plenty to take from the performance though, as they moved the ball around quickly and created plenty of opportunities.
Wolves meanwhile have had a sluggish start to the season after a dramatic second half of last season. They went down to Blacktown City in Wollongong last weekend, but they will fancy that they can take some points off their nearest neighbours on Saturday night.
Manly United v Rockdale City Suns, 3pm SUNDAY at Cromer Park
Manly United take on Rockdale City Suns on Sunday afternoon at picturesque Cromer Park.
Paul Dee’s Manly side gave it a good crack against APIA last week but ultimately fell short, although they will be thankful for the return of Chris Payne, who managed to get on the scoresheet.
He and Brendan Cholakian are the focal points of the Manly attack, and if the service is there they will provide the goals.
Rockdale City have lost their first two games, but experienced coach Branko Culina will have been hard at work rectifying the issues from the opening fortnight.
Skipper Askin Oygur returns from suspension and will shore up a defence which has leaked goals a bit too readily so far. The Suns need Oygur and experienced campaigner Paul Reid to step up and steady the ship, and this is a big opportunity for the Suns to kick-start their season.
Blacktown City v Parramatta FC, 3pm SUNDAY at Lilys Football Centre
There aren’t many more formidable tests than taking on Blacktown City in Seven Hills, but that’s what faces Parramatta FC this season.
Blacktown City have a wealth of attacking talent in Christos Tomaras and Mitchell Mallia, the latter particularly has looked sharp after a first round hat trick at home to United.
Franco Cosentino’s Parramatta will have to improve to take the game to Blacktown City, especially after conceding four goals at home to table-toppers Sydney Olympic last weekend.
– by Matthew Lopez, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor