ROUND 20 of the grade 20s will play out this weekend, with three matches on both Saturday and Sunday as the regular season draws to a close with just three rounds remaining.
This week’s match of the round will see Parramatta FC head to Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon to take on APIA Leichhardt Tigers as the season grinds towards its inevitable conclusion for the sides not in finals contention.
Match of the Round
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC v Parramatta FC, 2.15pm at Lambert Park
With finals football all but mathematically beyond them despite recent good form, Parramatta FC travel to Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon looking to close out their season on a positive note after limping to a 3-3 draw against bottom-placed Bonnyrigg White Eagles last weekend.
APIA visited Win Stadium for a match against South Coast Wolves last Sunday, suffering their sixth loss over their previous seven games, but will hold out more hope of overcoming Parramatta this week: in the reverse fixture at Melita Stadium in early May, the Tigers ran out 5-1 winners, courtesy of goals from Marc Warren, Alessandro Colandrea, Michal Rydzewski and Lachlan Scott.
Sydney Olympic FC v Blacktown City FC, 1pm at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic could change the shape of the premiership race this weekend when they take on competition leaders Blacktown City FC at Belmore Sports Ground, sitting just five points behind their opponents in fourth place ahead of their match on Sunday afternoon.
Olympic recorded a comprehensive 3-0 win over Blacktown Spartans last week, with goals coming from Michael Trajkovski, James Andrew and Thomas Bonomy, keeping their six-match winning streak intact. Blacktown City, meanwhile, continued their charge towards the premiership and the finals series last week with 1-1 draw at home to Marconi Stallions, a result which sees Sutherland Sharks, with a game in hand on those teams around them, come into serious contention for top spot.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v Blacktown Spartans FC, 5.30pm at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
A late surge in form has not been enough to lift Bonnyrigg from the foot of the competition ladder – two wins and a draw over the last three weeks follow just three other positive results all season – but the Eagles should come into their match against Blacktown Spartans on Saturday afternoon in a confident mood.
The Spartans’ have endured a difficult 2015 season, struggling to enjoy any consistency at all – only once this year have they managed to string two positive results together over consecutive weeks – and head to Bonnyrigg Sports Club on the back of a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to Sydney Olympic last weekend. Tenth-placed Blacktown sit just five points in front of Bonnyrigg ahead of round 20, though have a game in hand over their opponents.
Manly United FC v Sydney United 58 FC, 5.30pm at Cromer Park
Manly United will host Sydney United 58 at Cromer Park on Saturday afternoon knowing only a win will keep them in mathematical contention for a place in the finals, as they sit eight points off fifth-placed United with only three more rounds of the regular season to come.
Manly’s 3-0 loss at the hands of Sutherland Sharks last weekend was the latest in a series of four consecutive defeats which has derailed Louie Dimitropoulos’ side’s run at the semi finals, while Sydney United head to Cromer Park after limping to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to 11th-placed Rockdale City Suns on Sunday. The visitors only need a draw again this weekend to secure their place in the top five of the 20s competition.
Marconi Stallions v Sutherland Sharks, 5.30pm at Marconi Stadium
Sutherland could effectively end Marconi’s hunt for the premiership title should they win at Marconi Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with the second-placed Sharks holding a point and one game in hand over the Stallions with just three rounds remaining.
Marconi’s challenge for top spot was dealt another blow last weekend when they were held to a 1-1 draw at league leaders Blacktown City, while Sutherland made up for time lost after their washout two weeks ago with a fairly routine 3-0 win over Manly United. The Sharks came off second best when these sides met at Seymour Shaw earlier in the season, with goals from Zac Sfiligoi and Brandon Vella helping the Stallions to a 2-1 win.
Rockdale City Suns FC v South Coast Wolves, 3pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns and South Coast Wolves will have little but pride to play for when they meet in the last round 20 match at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon.
The Wolves won for just the second time in eleven matches when they beat APIA Leichhardt 2-0 at Win Stadium last weekend, and hold their spot in seventh place – level with 8th-placed Parramatta FC on goal difference – ahead of their visit to Rockdale, while the Suns ground out an impressive 1-1 draw with fifth-placed Sydney United 58. These teams drew 1-1 when they played each other at Win Stadium in round 9.
– By Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues Grade 20s Reporter