TIME is already flying by, and we are now at the fourth week of the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 competition.
Only APIA Leichhardt Tigers and Blacktown City have won three from three, and it is the former’s mission at home to Sydney Olympic that features as this week’s Match of the Round.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Sydney Olympic, 4.15pm MONDAY, at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt have started the season superbly, winning three from three, scoring 12 goals, but conceding five.
Coach Billy McColl and his assistant Rod Williams will be hard at work rectifying those lapses at the back, as the seem to be the only obstacle to APIA taking on all comers in 2015.
The superb form of Blake Powell and the twinkle toes and effortless passing of Franco Parisi have been critical to APIA’s goal scoring freedom, and Sydney Olympic will need to keep them on a leash on Monday afternoon. Last weekend’s 5-2 win at Marconi was a warning to the rest of the competition.
Grant Lee’s Olympic went into last week’s Match of the Round against Bonnyrigg White Eagles having not conceded all season. That looked to continue as they led 2-0, but two lapses saw them concede twice and share the points.
They, too, have a swashbuckling style going forward, with the nimble Go Shirai and efficient Taiga Soeda guiding them around the park. Push will come to shove at Lambert Park, and there will certainly be goals.
ROUND 4 PREVIEW
Manly United v Blacktown Spartans, 7pm FRIDAY, at Cromer Park
Manly will wonder how they didn’t beat Rockdale City Suns last weekend, after giving them absolute battering in the nil-all draw.
Manly did everything but score, and it was the absence of a clinical edge in front of goal that cost them all three points.
They come up against a Blacktown Spartans side, who will be smarting after letting a lead slip last weekend against Sydney United 58 FC at home.
Spartans have one win from their three games, but Manly United are winless. Spartans should beware Manly though, for the scoreline has betrayed their performances in the past two games, against APIA and against Rockdale City.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Blacktown City, 7.30pm SATURDAY, at Bonnyrigg Sports Centre – WASHED OUT
This is a heavyweight clash between two of the competition’s best sides.
Bonnyrigg showed that experience counts, coming from 2-0 down to snatch a 2-2 draw at Belmore Sports Ground against Sydney Olympic in last week’s Match of the Round.
To be truthful, Bonnyrigg was played off the park by the enterprising Olympic, but the White Eagles know how to get a result, and they will be all the better for the point they snatched.
Blacktown City have won three from three but were not convincing against Parramatta last weekend. Patrick Antelmi’s late double did the job, but coach Mark Crittenden will be after improvement as they travel to one of the toughest away venues in the division.
Parramatta FC v Sutherland Sharks, 7.30pm SATURDAY, at Melita Stadium – WASHED OUT
Parramatta battled hard but to no avail last weekend as they went down to Blacktown City, despite taking an early lead and holding on to a 1-1 draw into the final ten minutes.
The Eagles have had a tough initiation to Men’s 1 after the high of their round one win over Marconi Stallions.
They welcome Sutherland Sharks to Sefton on Saturday. The Sharks could have been smashed by South Coast Wolves last weekend and were lucky to only be 2-0 down at any point.
Sutherland staged a remarkable recovery though, coming back to 2-2 to steal a share of the points, but that won’t paper over the cracks of a poor performance, especially in the first 45 minutes.
They will be hoping for marked improvement against the plucky Parramatta.
Sydney United 58 FC v South Coast Wolves, 5pm MONDAY, at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 FC are on the right track and have improved with each performance, culminating in their come-from-behind 4-2 win against Blacktown Spartans last weekend.
New signings Justin Pasfield and Nick Stavroulakis have bedded in well and with the promise of more attacking football, United will be keen to get on the front foot at home to South Coast Wolves.
Nahuel Arrarte’s Wolves should have put Sutherland away at Seymour Shaw Park last weekend but they weren’t clinical enough. They let Sutherland back into the game and only took one point when it should have been three.
They will need to put United away if the opportunity is there, or the Reds will surely punish them.
Rockdale City Suns v Marconi Stallions, 3pm MONDAY, at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City have had an indifferent start to the season, shipping more goals than they would like and then, when they finally kept a clean sheet, they were battered by Manly United but escaped with a nil-all draw.
Coach Branko Culina will want to marry a clean sheet to some goals at the other end, and with the visit of Marconi they have a valuable opportunity to kick start their season against a side that has struggled so far.
The firepower is there for the Suns, they just need things to click.
Marconi meanwhile are at the foot of the table without a point, only three goals scored and 12 conceded. Albeit, five of those were against APIA Leichhardt last weekend, but that doesn’t excuse conceding seven in the previous fortnight.
Coach Paul Carter has his work cut out for him, although Milorad Simonovic could provide the spark his side needs as they travel to Botany on Monday afternoon.
– By Matthew Lopez, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor