ROUND 14 marks the inaugural Men’s 1 Heritage Round.
All 12 clubs will look back and celebrate their formative years and glittering history on a weekend of celebration and nostalgia at some of the most iconic venues in NSW football.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Marconi Stallions, 7.45pm Saturday, at Lambert Park
The "Italian derby" between APIA Leichhardt and Marconi Stallions is as appropriate a fixture as any, to be the first ever Heritage Round match of the round.
The Tigers are absolutely flying in second place, two points behind ladder leaders Blacktown City and six points clear of third placed Sydney Olympic.
Blake Powell is the league’s top scorer with 18 goals in 13 games, but due credit too must go to the Tigers’ defence. Ryan Norval has been a calming presence in goal, while the experienced due of Michael West and Brett Studman in front of him have formed a formidable combination.
It is a completely different story for Marconi Stallions. NSW Premier League winners as recently as 2012, the Stallions sit at the foot of the table, with only two wins, a draw, and nine goals to show from their 13 matches.
Goalkeeper Sam Nastic has been a busy boy, and while he has been out injured, his replacement Jacopo D’Antimo has kept the gloves warm.
Whoever plays this weekend can certainly expect to be busy.
ROUND 14 PREVIEW
Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Sydney Olympic, 7.30pm Saturday, at Bonnyrigg Sports Centre
In a bygone era this would be Avala v Pan Hellenic but many years on and this match has lost none of its significance.
Fourth placed Bonnyrigg White Eagles are doing a marvellous job under the duress of an injury ravaged squad, and indeed they sit level on points with third placed Sydney Olympic.
While there is Robbie Younis, there will be goals, and the veteran forward has eight to his name so far this season. It was a double from Alex Canak however which saw them past Marconi Stallions last weekend.
Olympic was upset by Parramatta FC last weekend and Grant Lee will hope for a performance of far greater intensity this weekend.
He still possesses two of the division’s most dangerous players in Go Shirai and Taiga Soeda and they won’t let Bonnyrigg’s defence rest for a moment.
Rockdale City Suns v Manly United, 5pm Sunday, at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns and Manly United will both be keen to bounce back from disappointing losses last weekend.
Rockdale City conceded an early goal to Blacktown Spartans, and despite dominating possession for the remaining 87′ minutes, they couldn’t find the back of the net.
They will be missing both first choice centre halves for this one, after Nicholas Petrillo and captain Askin Oygur were both sent off for two bookable offences last weekend.
Manly United will, likewise, feel they had the better of the game but in the end class was telling as APIA Leichhardt took the points from Cromer Park.
Manly took the lead through Chris Payne, but Blake Powell’s penalty, followed by a superb volley, did the business. Manly learnt the hard way not to gift a quality player such an opportunity, and they will have to be wary of the returning Dylan Macallister, who should start up front for the Suns.
Sydney United 58 FC v Blacktown Spartans, 3pm Sunday, at Sydney United Sports Centre
Things were looking rosy for the Reds after a 3-0 win against Sydney Olympic, but subsequent losses to Blacktown City and Sutherland Sharks has changed the outlook at Edensor Park.
They were much improved last week despite losing to the Sharks, after a dire performance the week previous in the 6-1 defeat by Blacktown City.
Once they properly harness the attacking prowess of Richard Cardozo, Panni Nikas, Robbie Mileski, and Chris Triantis, they will be a threat to most, so long as Mitchell Stamatellis remains fit in the centre of the park. Phil Makrys’ inclusion in the midfield also makes for a stronger looking overall unit.
Spartans took one of the great smash-and-grab victories from Ilinden Sports Centre last weekend, scoring in the third minute thanks to Shu Sasaki and then contentedly absorbing 87′ minutes of Rockdale City Suns pressure.
The approach was justified as they took the three points, which takes them to within a point of seventh placed Manly United.
Shu Sasaki will again be their main man in attack, but he will need a bit of support if he is to make maximum impact.
South Coast Wolves v Sutherland Sharks, 3pm Sunday, at WIN Stadium
Local legend Jacob Timpano will take charge of his first home match for the Wolves, but it won’t be easy against Sutherland Sharks.
TImpano, who replaced the likeable Nahuel Arrarte as coach last week, was on a hiding to nothing as his side was easily beaten by ladder leaders Blacktown City in Timpano’s first game in charge. He will be keen to make amends in front of a home crowd in Wollongong however.
Sutherland, who have been hot and cold all season, were red hot against the Reds last weekend, when they beat Sydney United 58.
But for their inconsistency they would be challenging for a position in the top five, as they should be, but they currently sit sixth, five points in arrears of United 58.
They will want to win in Wollongong, to keep the pressure on the Reds.
Parramatta FC v Blacktown City, 3.15pm Sunday, at Melita Stadium
There aren’t many more appropriate venues for a Heritage Round game than Melita Stadium.
Melita Stadium hosted the Parramatta Eagles’ matches in the National Soccer League and will host the currently ladder leaders Blacktown City on Sunday afternoon.
Parramatta are fresh from an upset win over Sydney Olympic, and will need an even bigger upset if they are to topple the rampant Blacktown City.
Mark Crittenden’s side have lost only once this season, and with Travis Major now a goal scorer again, they boast a formidable attack. Joe Gibbs has 14 goals this season, and will be joined in attack by the dangerous Major, Patrick Antelmi, and Danny Choi.
– by Matthew Lopez, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor