Finals football is hotting up in PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1.
After a thrilling weekend at Lambert Park, Premiers Blacktown City FC will enter the fray once again to take on Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC for the right to progress straight to the 2015 Grand Final.
South Coast Wolves FC exited the competition at the hands of Sydney Olympic FC, who also remain alive in the FFA Cup, and Grant Lee’s side will be more than hopeful of continuing its good form against an APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC needing to find some inspiration.
The Tigers were poor against the White Eagles at home last week, but Rod Williams promised his side would put in an improved showing this week.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC v Sydney Olympic FC, Minor Semi Final, 7.30 pm Friday at Lambert Park
Rod Williams has a big job on his hand turning around his side for its Minor Semi Final against Sydney Olympic FC.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC looked a tired outfit against Bonnyrigg White Eagles last week, but perhaps no longer having the buffer of a second chance might just be the spark the Tigers need.
In two previous attempts, the Tigers have failed to overcome Olympic, drawing their first encounter and losing the second.
Grant Lee’s side played some impressive football against South Coast Wolves and probably should have won by a lot more than the 2-0 scoreline it finished with.
Dimitri Hatzimouratis was a constant threat last week and with APIA struggling for defenders, having lost Brett Studman before kick-off last week and Adam Griffiths at half-time, he could be the difference again.
Go Shirai should be relatively fresh having only played part of the second half as well.
Nathan Elasi provided some bright moments last week but will look to be more clinical this week.
Tale of the Tape:
Round Four: APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2 drew with Sydney Olympic 2
Round 15: Sydney Olympic 2 defeated APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1
Blacktown City FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC, Major Semi Final, 3.45 pm Sunday at Lily’s Football Centre
Blacktown City FC should be fresh and raring to go after a week off to recharge the batteries after claiming the 2015 Premiership on the final day of the home-and-away season two weeks ago.
But freshness is no substitute for sharpness in a Major Semi Final and Mark Crittenden will have to ensure his side is more than sharp for the challenge for Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC on Sunday.
Brian Brown’s men were very impressive in the way it controlled and physically dominated the contest against APIA last week.
No doubt some of the White Eagles will be more than sore after such a bruising encounter, and moreover, Brown will be sweating on the fitness of David Vrankovic who was a late scratching from his line up last week with a back complaint.
Robbie Younis should be fresh after sitting out most of the game, only coming on late in the second half to convert a penalty and his partners in crime up top Yuta Kokado and Aaron Peterson showed no ill-effects at full-time.
While the White Eagles were impressive, they will know they face an entirely different challenge in Blacktown on Sunday.
On form, it would be hard to mount an argument against Blacktown, with steel in defence through Matt Lewis and Zach Cairncross, class in the middle from Patrick Antelmi and plenty of quality up front in Joey Gibbs, Danny Choi and Travis Major.
The latter two notched a brace each in their last outing against Sutherland Sharks, while Gibbs himself has just come back from injury and with some precious game time under his belt before the end of the home-and-away season, could be back to his lethal best on Sunday.
The two teams have reached stalemates on the last two occasions they have played, drawing 2-2 at Bonnyrigg and 1-1 at Lily’s in rounds four and 15, but one of them will have to win on Sunday with a spot in the Grand Final on the line.
Tale of the Tape:
Round Four: Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2 drew with Blacktown City 2
Round 15: Blacktown City 1 drew with Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1
– By Matthew Galea, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor