ROUND 22, the final round of the Grade 20s’ regular season sees all twelve teams in action at 1pm on Sunday, with the order of the Semi Finalists yet to be decided with only three points separating second-placed Marconi Stallions from fifth-placed Sydney United 58 FC.
The Match of the Round sees Sydney United 58 head to Belmore Sports Ground to take on Sydney Olympic, with the hosts sitting one point above the visitors in fourth spot ahead of Sunday’s clash.
Match of the Round
Sydney Olympic FC v Sydney United 58 FC, 1pm Sunday at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic and Sydney United will fight for more desirable places in the finals series when they face off at Belmore Sports Ground in the regular season’s last round of matches, sitting fourth and fifth respectively with their place in the semis secure. Olympic rebounded after their 8-1 defeat to premiers Blacktown City FC with a 3-2 win over Sutherland Sharks last weekend; James Andrew scoring two second half goals for Olympic after trailing by a goal at halftime – Sydney United 58, meanwhile, edged a tight match 1-0 at home to Marconi Stallions on Sunday. Olympic will be hoping for an improvement in defence if they are to contain the ever-present United striker Lachlan Roberts, who scored his side’s only goal in their win over Marconi.
Manly United FC v Parramatta FC, at Cromer Park
Seventh plays eighth when Manly United and Parramatta FC face off at Cromer Park on Sunday afternoon, with little but pride to play for as both sides end the regular season out of contention for a place in the finals series. Manly rose to a 4-2 victory over South Coast Wolves at Win Stadium last weekend, their first win in eight matches, while Parramatta carried their good form into the penultimate round with a 3-1 win over last-placed Rockdale City Suns, with two goals coming from striker Andreas Vais. Manly United scraped by with a 2-1 win when these sides met at Melita Stadium earlier in the season, but Parramatta remain the team to beat, having stretched a six-match unbeaten streak into the final round.
Rockdale City Suns FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC, at Ilinden Sports Centre
Bottom-placed Rockdale City Suns trail Bonnyrigg by three points ahead of their clash at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon but enjoy a superior goal difference, and would switch places with the White Eagles should they manage to finish the season on a winning note. Such a result would go against both sides’ recent form: Rockdale have earned just two points since last playing this opponent in Round 14, a match which Bonnyrigg won 2-1 with goals from Jake Douglas and Taylor McDonald. Bonnyrigg picked up 10 points in the four games prior to their 2-1 defeat at home to APIA Leichhardt last week, and will be eager to earn at least a point against Rockdale in order to avoid the grade 20s wooden spoon.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC v Blacktown Spartans FC, at Lambert Park
After ending a three-match losing streak with a hard-fought win 2-1 win over Bonnyrigg White Eagles last Saturday, APIA Leichhardt Tigers will be confident of ending their season on a high against the visiting Blacktown Spartans at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon. The Spartans have won just three games in the second half of the season (one more than they managed in the first), most recently against Manly United in round 15, when Domenic Dileo, Aaron White and Sallu Kamara scored in a 3-1 victory. Their recent results are less impressive, having lost three in a row including a 2-0 defeat to rivals Blacktown City last weekend. APIA, who sit just two points in front of tenth-placed Spartans ahead of this match, lost when these teams met earlier in the season, with a single goal from Adam Voloder the difference in a 1-0 win for Blacktown.
Blacktown City FC v Sutherland Sharks FC, at Lilys Football Centre
Premiers Blacktown City head into their match against third-placed Sutherland Sharks at Lilys Football Centre on Sunday afternoon eight points in front of their opponents after results in Round 21, which saw City pick up a win away at Blacktown Spartans, while the Sharks fell to a 3-2 defeat at home against Sydney Olympic. A goal from Juan Zapata in each half settled 2-0 victory for Blacktown City last weekend at Blacktown Football Park, extending their 13-match unbeaten streak into the final week of the regular season. Despite going ahead early in their match against Olympic, Sutherland were stung by two quick goals early in the second half and eventually succumbed to an 85th minute winner to lose 3-2; their third loss in four matches putting an end to hopes of winning the Premiership.
South Coast Wolves FC v Marconi Stallions FC, at Win Stadium
Marconi Stallions will play for their place behind Blacktown City at Win Stadium on Sunday afternoon, sitting second to the Premiers on 41 points, while Sutherland Sharks, Sydney Olympic and Sydney United 58 hover below on 39, 39 and 38 points respectively. Marconi lost a tight match 1-0 at Sydney United Sports Centre last weekend to give up valuable ground to Olympic behind them, whose victory over Sutherland meant Marconi hold second place heading into the final round of fixtures. South Coast Wolves’ hopes of ending the season in winning form were quashed after a 4-2 defeat to Manly United at home last Sunday, the loss following two wins over fellow bottom-half sides Rockdale and APIA.
– By Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues Grade 20s Reporter