ROUND fourteen of the Grade 20s competition will be played out over the weekend, with two matches on Saturday afternoon and four on Sunday during the inaugural Heritage Round of fixtures.
This weekend’s match of the round sees old rivals APIA Leichhardt and Marconi Stallions clash at Lambert Park on Saturday afternoon, with Marconi looking for three points to strengthen their grip on first place.
Match of the Round
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC v Marconi Stallions FC, Saturday 5.30pm at Lambert Park
Only a win for Marconi Stallions at Lambert Park on Saturday afternoon will keep them top of the table at the end of round fourteen, with Sutherland Sharks only two points adrift in second place. The Stallions will find themselves faced with a challenging opponent in APIA; a team that have struggled for consistent form all season, and come into this fixture having picked up only a single point in their last three games following two wins earlier in May. Another loss this weekend for APIA could see them fall as far as ten points behind fourth-placed Manly United, while a win would take them back amongst Sydney Olympic and South Coast Wolves in midtable.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v Sydney Olympic FC, 5.30pm at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Since recording their only win of the season, a narrow 2-1 victory over Rockdale City Suns towards the end of May, Bonnyrigg have drawn with Manly United and only last weekend lost 2-1 to Marconi (the top team in the competition), an impressive turnaround for the side that has been kept scoreless in defeat seven times this year. They take on Sydney Olympic on Saturday afternoon at Bonnyrigg Sports Club, the visitors failing to make the most of their opportunities last week in their 1-1 draw with Parramatta FC. Bonnyrigg are now unbeaten in their last three matches at home, though Olympic should prove too strong for the White Eagles here.
Rockdale City Suns FC v Manly United FC, 3pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale edged Manly United in the reverse fixture of this match at Cromer Park in round three earlier in the season, a 1-0 win courtesy of a Michael Loupis goal, but will find Manly United have hardened to become one of the competition’s form sides in recent weeks. The visitors are now unbeaten since April, following up a disappointing 2-2 draw with Bonnyrigg with a comprehensive 3-1 win over APIA Leichhardt last Sunday, and sit in fourth place ahead of their match at Ilinden Sports Ground on Sunday afternoon. Rockdale are enjoying a less impressive run of results, having picked up only two points in the same space of time.
Parramatta FC v Blacktown City FC, 1pm at Melita Stadium
Though only Marconi Stallions and Sutherland Sharks have shared first place on the ladder this season, Blacktown City sit only four points adrift of the Sharks ahead of the weekend’s matches, and the same above fourth-placed Manly United. Blacktown will be eager to join the minor premiership contenders, rather than the race for a place in the finals, starting with a result at Parramatta FC in round fourteen. Parramatta earned a 1-1 draw with Sydney Olympic last weekend, and will be hoping to snap a winless streak stretching back to round 10 at Melita Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Sydney United 58 FC v Blacktown Spartans FC, 1pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Blacktown Spartans have found success in recent weeks in recording victories over sides low on the table (Bonnyrigg, APIA and Rockdale among them) but have continued to struggle for results against the top sides, and sit in 10th place on the ladder ahead of their match against Sydney United 58 at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon. This match ended 1-1 at Blacktown Football Park in round three, but expectations will be that Sydney United, unbeaten since mid-April and coming home on the back of a 2-2 draw with Sutherland Sharks, will have too much for their opponents in attack.
South Coast Wolves FC v Sutherland Sharks FC, 1pm at Win Stadium
Sutherland Sharks travel south to Win Stadium to take on the South Coast Wolves on Sunday afternoon, where they will be hopeful of keeping up the pressure on first-placed Marconi Stallions with three points on the road. While Sutherland are now unbeaten in four since their stumble in early May, the Wolves have slid from fourth to seventh after four consecutive losses, only one of them at home. The Wolves otherwise boast a record of one win, two draws and one loss at Win Stadium in 2015, and the Sharks should be confident of bouncing back from a disappointing 2-2 draw with Sydney United last weekend with a win here on Sunday.
– By Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues Grade 20s Reporter