Don’t pencil in Blacktown City in for a Premiership just yet.
In the space of seven days, Mark Crittenden’s side has been knocked out of the FFA Cup and pulled back into a serious race for the Premiership, following a heavy loss to Sydney Olympic on Saturday night.
Not needing any motivation to close the gap, APIA Leichhardt Tigers responded accordingly with a somewhat fortuitous win against the battling Parramatta FC.
In this week’s match of the round, Blacktown Spartans’ unlikely hopes of a top-five finish after a poor start to the season hit another speed bump on the road as a poor performance against a fired up Bonnryigg White Eagles outfit saw the Spartans lose 2-1.
ROUND 20 REVIEWS
Bonnryigg White Eagles 2-1 Blacktown Spartans, at Bonnryigg Sports Club
A premiership is unlikely for Bonnyrigg White Eagles with two rounds to play, but it showed no signs of letting up in the hunt for good form heading into finals on Saturday night.
The White Eagles welcomed Blacktown Spartans under the Bonnyrigg Sports Club lights but they were anything but accommodating.
The Spartans offered up what coach Ben De Haan described as their worst performance in recent memory in the first half as a far more committed and hungry White Eagles outfit dominated the contest.
Tynan Diaz’s first-half strike was just one of countless opportunities as Robert Younis, Aaron Peterson, Yuta Kokado and many more all lined up shots on target for the White Eagles, only to be faced by a stubborn Carlos Saliadarre.
Kokado eventually found the net in the 69th minute to seal the points, but not before Spartan’s Shu Sasaki saw his penalty saved by James Chronopolous.
The Spartans’ consolation strike came through substitute Carlos Enwiya.
Sydney Olympic 4-0 Blacktown City, at Belmore Sports Ground
A horror start quickly turned into a nightmare for premiers elect Blacktown City at Belmore Sports Ground against a ruthless Sydney Olympic.
The mid-season woes that looked to threaten Grant Lee’s side’s hopes of finals football seem a long time ago as Olympic toyed with the top side, going into the break 4-0 up.
Scott Balderson had Olympic up 1-0 five minutes in, before Dimitri Hatzimouratis made it 2-0 after 15 minutes.
Two goals in 12 minutes from Taiga Soeda ended any hope of a Blacktown City win in this grand final rematch as Olympic look to hit top gear heading into finals.
Marconi Stallions 1-2 Sutherland Sharks, at Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions just cannot catch a break as their season continued with another home loss, this time at the hands of Sutherland Sharks FC.
The Stallions look relatively secure on the club championship ladder despite being dead last on the PS4 National Premier League’s NSW Men’s 1 ladder, but a win would keep the Sharks with slim hopes of finals football.
Truthfully, despite the win, the Sharks will know they will need to play better in the final two rounds if it is to make it, particularly with the team relying on results elsewhere to make the cut.
Jacob Tratt scored the opener for the Sharks after five minutes before the Stallions got back in the game with a 60th minute equaliser from Jacob Boutoubia.
It was an own-goal in the 68th minute that sealed Marconi’s fate, however, when Jacob Ott inadvertently redirected a Bai Antoniou shot into the back of his own net.
Manly United 5 Sydney United 58 FC 0, at Cromer Park
Sydney United 58 FC’s miserly defensive record continued on the road as Manly United pumped five unanswered goals past Mark Rudan’s side on Saturday night.
Manly was dominant from start to finish, and each and every one of the five goals scored proved crucial as it moved into fifth spot courtesy of goal difference over Rockdale City Suns.
Sydney United 58’s Nathan Sherlock summed up the night when he scored an own goal after just five minutes, which was compounded by Chris Payne’s stunning volley after 27 minutes.
He would add another in the second half, minutes after Daniel Bragg had scored Manly’s third, with CJ Arditti capping off the incredible display with a goal in stoppage time.
Rockdale City Suns 1-3 South Coast Wolves, at Illinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns find themselves outside of the top-five after a 3-1 loss at home to the travelling South Coast Wolves.
The win was a huge one for Jacob Timpano’s side who remain well and truly in the finals hunt as a result.
Winning away from home was always going to be key for the Wolves to have any chance, and Sunday’s 3-1 triumph might prove particularly important.
The night got off to a bad start when Suns’ Marko Jesic opened the scoring in the first 20 minutes, while Dylan Macallister looked particularly menacing up front.
The Wolves were somewhat lucky not to be more than a goal down when Sam Matthews scored in the 36th minute, which seemed to breath new life into the Wollongong team.
Goals in the 77th and 81st minute from Jordan Murray sealed the all-important win for the Wolves as it looks to continue its march towards finals.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1-0 Parramatta FC, Lambert Park
It was hard-fought, but it was precious for APIA Leichhardt Tigers at Lambert Park on Sunday night.
The Tigers had to fight off a determined Parramatta FC looking to make it two wins in two weeks to take the three points, which will reignite the premiership chase.
A late free-kick from Adrian Ucchio settled a match in which an inspired Marco Sama could do everything but score for the Eagles, as Blade Richards and Joshua Gersbach all conspired to miss gettable chances.
Their loss was the Tigers gain as they closed the gap on Blacktown City at the top of the table to just three points with two games remaining.
Parramatta, on the other hand, will rue the missed chances, which just might have seen the club retain its top-flight status.
by Matthew Galea, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor