BLACKTOWN City lead the ladder heading into round 16, but they travel to the home of the second placed APIA Leichhardt Tigers in a mouth-watering clash.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Sydney Olympic are duelling for third place at the moment, while fifth placed Sydney United 58 are in danger of slipping into the clutches of the Sutherland Sharks.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Blacktown City, 7.45pm Saturday at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt chose an inopportune time to lose their second game of the season, last weekend against Sydney Olympic.
The Tigers’ other loss came against this weekend’s opponents Blacktown City in the reverse fixture at Lilys Football Centre.
The Tigers were indifferent against Olympic, but still could have stolen a point had Blake Powell found the back of the net with two good opportunities. With 20 goals to his name however, he could be forgiven those misses.
Powell will miss this game as he is trialling at the Wellington Phoenix, and nobody would begrudge him success in that endeavour on the back of his performances so far this season.
Blacktown City meanwhile are coming off a 1-1 draw with Bonnyrigg White Eagles. Blacktown City were dominated in the first half, but took the lead well and truly against the run of play, only to give up a share of the points in the second half.
Blacktown City have only lost once so far, a massive upset against Manly United at Lilys, but they will face a far more settled APIA side to the one they beat earlier in the season.
This second v first clash has all the hallmarks of a classic.
ROUND 16 REVIEW
Parramatta FC v Sydney United 58 FC, 7.30pm Saturday, at Melita Stadium
Parramatta FC will not want to be too kind as hosts against struggling Sydney United 58 FC.
The Eagles sit second from bottom but this fixture is a massive banana skin for United 58, who are coming off a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of South Coast Wolves.
Parramatta will back themselves to cause an upset, and if they do, United 58’s finals chances will take a big hit. The Reds will also be keen to stay focused and avoid having one eye on the Waratah Cup Final the weekend after this.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Sutherland Sharks, 7.30pm Saturday, at Bonnyrigg Sports Centre
Bonnyrigg White Eagles slugged it out with Blacktown City last weekend and it is clear they will be one of the teams to watch come the end of the season.
Brian Brown’s side always go on a run at this stage of the season and with Yuta Kokado looking settled and Mun Soo Gil having a good season alongside Ray Miller in the centre of the park, the White Eagles are as dangerous a side as any.
They host a Sutherland Sharks side which can smell a finals position on the back of United 58’s capitulation and their own good form.
The Sharks know a win or a draw here will keep them within striking range of the Reds, as they look to play finals football once again.
Manly United v Marconi Stallions, 3pm Sunday, at Cromer Park
Manly United looked to have gotten back on track on the weekend, but they threw away a two goal lead to go down 3-2 to Blacktown Spartans.
It is a defeat that sees Manly sit third from bottom heading into round 16, and their status of giant killers carries little weight if they can’t do the job against the teams around them.
They will be keen to get three points on the board against the hapless Marconi Stallions, who at the moment don’t appear they could win a one-horse race.
Their season stats make for grim reading: two wins, one draw, and 12 losses, with only 11 goals scored and 40 conceded.
The once-mighty Stallions sit rock bottom, and coach Jeff Suzor must be wondering where to turn next.
Rockdale City Suns v Sydney Olympic, 5pm Sunday at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns have had mixed fortunes of late, but they will revel in the positivity of a first clean sheet of the season, albeit against the Stallions.
Ivan Necevski will expect a stronger test this week with the visit of Sydney Olympic, who will be buoyed by their excellent performance in the win against APIA on the weekend,
Rockdale City’s Necevski will be on red alert when the likes of Taiga Soeda, Go Shirai, Dimitri Hatzimouratis and Harris Gaitatzis are on the ball, but Olympic must be wary of Marko Jesic, Alec Urosevski, and if he plays, Dylan Macallister.
John Dimitrakis may get another chance in goal with Paul Henderson’s injured toe a chance of keeping him out again.
South Coast Wolves v Blacktown Spartans, 3pm Sunday, at WIN Stadium
South Coast Wolves are on a roll under new coach Jacob Timpano, and a thumping 4-0 win at home to Sydney United 58 last weekend showed what they are capable of.
The win lifts Wolves to ninth, level on points with Rockdale City and only two points behind this weekend’s opponents Blacktown Spartans.
Spartans will be confident though after coming from two goals down to beat Manly United last weekend.
However Wolves can’t be given the same head start, as United 58 found out in the last game.
– by Matthew Lopez, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor