IT IS crunch time in the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 as we enter round 15.
The Match of the Round sees top of the table Blacktown City host third placed Bonnyrigg White Eagles, while there is also a big game at Belmore Sports Ground, where Sydney Olympic host APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
Blacktown City v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 3pm Sunday, at Lilys Football Centre
Blacktown City host Bonnyrigg White Eagles in a heavyweight clash in this week’s Match of the Round.
Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden will be pleased Travis Major has scored in consecutive matches, as he needs him to take centre stage after a season ending injury to Joe Gibbs.
It is a massive blow for Blacktown City and for Gibbs, who had plundered 13 goals this season, however Blacktown City do have a plethora of attacking riches on which to call, including Major, Patrick Antelmi, Danny Choi, and Mitchell Mallia.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles keep picking up wins and are starting to loom large in the rear view mirrors of Blacktown City, and second placed APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Bonnyrigg sit third now, six points in arrears of the Tigers. Another healthy season for Robbie Younis has seen the White Eagles pick up points when it seemed they would not, and they are well placed to take that momentum into this huge clash at Lilys Football Centre.
It is not often Bonnyrigg White Eagles go anywhere as underdogs, and Blacktown City would be well warned not view them as such.
ROUND 15 PREVIEW
Marconi Stallions v Rockdale City Suns, 7.30pm Saturday, at Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions were humbled by their great rivals APIA Leichhardt Tigers, losing the Heritage Round clash 6-2 at Lambert Park.
It wasn’t what the doctor ordered for the Stallions, who are struggling big time at the foot of the table. They are five points behind second last Parramatta FC, who have a game in hand, and seven points behind the tenth placed South Coast Wolves.
Rockdale City Suns should welcome back skipper Askin Oygur and his central defensive partner Nicholas Petrillo for the trip to Bossley Park. Both were suspended last weekend, but Manly didn’t make them pay as the Suns ran out 4-0 winners, thanks to a hat trick from Marko Jesic and a strong defensive performance by Daniel Petkovski, who moved from APIA.
As well as the returns of Oygur and Petrillo, Dylan Macallister should also make his return in Suns’ colours, so things aren’t looking any easier for Marconi.
Sutherland Sharks v Parramatta FC, 7.30pm at Seymour Shaw Park
Sutherland Sharks just can’t seem to find any consistency under Steve O’Connor this season, and they were beaten comfortably by South Coast Wolves in Wollongong last weekend.
It is a result that leaves them in sixth and not quite close enough to exert much pressure on the free falling Sydney United 58, and if the Sharks don’t finish in the top five this season it could well be a question of what might have been.
Parramatta FC dealt admirably with the task of hosting the ladder leaders Blacktown City, and only an early goal to Travis Major separated the sides on the scoresheet.
Only five points separates Sutherland in sixth and Parramatta FC in 11th, and a win for the Eagles would push them right into that lower mid table pack.
Sydney Olympic v APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 7:45pm Sunday, at Lambert Park
Sydney Olympic host APIA in a fourth versus second clash at the late kick off time of 7:45pm at Lambert Park.
Olympic have been inconsistent of late, in stark contrast to an APIA side which has found ever-increasing levels of stability and consistency in the last two months.
Olympic’s side is as good as any in the competition however, and with home ground advantage they will be confident of stepping on the front foot.
APIA’s Blake Powell has scored 20 of his side’s 42 goals this season, and he is by far the competition’s leading marksman. Franco Parisi too has been in superb form, and returns to a former home ground this weekend.
Skipper Michael West has been a model of consistency at the back since his return to the side, and is trying his utmost to lead his side to silverware.
Blacktown Spartans v Manly United, 3pm Sunday at Blacktown Football Park
Blacktown Spartans and Manly United are separated by only two points on the ladder, and it is hard to see anything separating them this weekend.
Spartans upset Sydney United 58 on the weekend, as Manly United did earlier in the year, and on that basis would have to be favourites.
Manly is coming off a heavy defeat to Rockdale City Suns, but they have enough quality to get the job done if they can focus on the task at hand on Sunday afternoon.
South Coast Wolves v Sydney United 58 FC, at WIN Stadium
Wollongong would have to be very low on the list of places you’d want to go, on the back of three straight defeats.
But that tricky task is the one facing Sydney United 58, whose season is in danger of totally derailing. The Reds sit in fifth place and only the inconsistency of those below them has kept them in a finals position.
Nikola Taneski is another new face to join the squad, with Emmanuel Giannaros, Phil Makrys, Richard Cardozo and Koen Bosma all starting to bed in.
Wolves turned over Sutherland at home last weekend, giving Jacob Timpano his first win as their new head coach.
A consecutive home match is a blessing for the Wolves, who will look to build some momentum here by upsetting the free falling Reds.
– by Matthew Lopez, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor