The strength of this year’s PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 competition was underlined in Round 4 which played host to several surprising results with Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Sydney Olympic both overturning poor starts to the season to upset Manly United and Sutherland Sharks.
This weekend will see Sutherland host a Parramatta side looking for their first points of the season, leaders Blacktown City host a resurgent Bonnyrigg White Eagles on Sunday afternoon, whilst APIA Leichhardt Tigers return to Lambert Park for the first time this season to welcome Wollongong Wolves.
But the Match of the Round this week will see rivals Sydney United 58 and Sydney Olympic lock horns at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon with both sides in need of result to remedy a slow start to the 2016 campaign.
Match of the Round
Sydney United 58 v Sydney Olympic, 2.00pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
The stage is set for an enthralling derby encounter as Sydney United 58 host Sydney Olympic at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides are struggling to get their seasons up and running, particularly Sydney United 58 whose single point, gained in Round 2 with a 2-2 draw at home to Wollongong Wolves, sees them above only Parramatta and APIA Leichhardt Tigers having played three matches more than APIA Leichhardt and one more than Parramatta.
Olympic have leaked 10 goals in their opening trio of matches but the manner of their late comeback win against a formidable Sutherland Sharks side will have Harry Paras’ men enter Sunday afternoon’s encounter with a good degree of confidence.
Adrian Vranic netted the later winner from the spot against Sutherland for his fifth goal in three games and the striker will be instrumental to their hopes of toppling their rivals on the weekend.
Sutherland Sharks v Parramatta, Saturday 4.30pm at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks host Parramatta on Saturday afternoon at Seymour Shaw with both sides coming off the back of losses in Round 4.
Parramatta’s 2-0 defeat to Blacktown City last Saturday made it three defeats in their opening three games which currently leaves the side with ground to make up on the rest of the competition at this early checkpoint.
Despite their failure to get off the mark Parramatta have made an encouraging start to the season with manager Mark Zecchin content with the element of surprise his charges could offer in the coming weeks.
Sutherland meanwhile suffered a surprising defeat at home with Allan Edmonson’s team pegged back by Sydney Olympic through a late Adrian Vranic penalty. Prior to their collapse against Olympic, Sutherland had conceded just two goals in their first three having registered back to back clean sheets in gritty displays against Blacktown City and Sydney United 58 and will look to get back on tagainst the winless Parramatta.
Blacktown Spartans v Rockdale City Suns, Saturday 5.00pm at Blacktown Football Park
Blacktown Spartans suffered their first defeat of the season in Round 4 going down 2-0 to Wollongong Wolves at WIN Stadium and Samuel Jacob’s third-placed side will look to get back to winning ways when they face a Rockdale side who snapped a run of two straight losses on the weekend.
The Spartans were unable to produce a fourth comeback win on the row against Wollongong but return to Blacktown International Football Park where they’ve looked exceptionally sharp for significant periods in scoring six goals in their last two visits.
Rockdale on the other hand salvaged their first win since the opening day with goals from Yerasimakis Petratos and Tolgay Ozbey earning the side a comfortable 2-0 victory against Sydney United 58. If the visitors can net an early goal and frustrate the hosts who have had to come from behind in three of their four matches this season, they will certainly fancy their chances of making it two wins on the bounce.
Manly United v Hakoah Sydney City East, 1.00pm at Cromer Park
Blacktown Spartans were not the only side to see their perfect start to the season unravel on the weekend in surprising fashion with Andrew Christiansen’s Manly United going down to Bonnyrigg White Eagles away from home.
It was the first setback of the season for Manly who have begun the year in attractive style but fired a blank against a well-organised and hungrier Bonnyrigg.
Hakoah Sydney City East have lost and drawn their last two fixtures after consecutive wins on the bounce and with both sides staking their claim as title contenders this season they will be eager to cement their push with victory this weekend.
Richard Blanco has been in good form for the Dino D’Agrosa coached side with three goals from his opening four games. The forward wasn’t on the scoresheet this weekend against APIA Leichhart Tigers but other players came to the fore for Hakoah in their first draw of the season with Brad Paikin and Emilio Manos netting their debut goals of the campaign.
A Hakoah win would see the side leapfrog Manly United on the ladder and after such a positive start to the year Manly will hope to respond to their first loss of the season with nothing other than three points at Cromer Park.
Blacktown City v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 1.00pm at Lilys Football Centre
Blacktown City climbed to the top of the table for the first time this season with their 2-0 victory at Melita Stadium in Round 4 and having suffered an early wobble at Seymour Shaw in Round 2 the win over Parramatta highlighted that the reigning champions are up for the challenge of defending their title this campaign.
Ben Wright’s side weren’t at their best against Parramatta but it was the kind of resolute display and result that could prove to be a crucial one come the end of the regular season. Blacktown now look to have clicked into gear but will face a Bonnyrigg side coming off a morale-boosting result against Manly United.
The 2-0 victory over Manly was Bonnyrigg’s first of the campaign and after a tough start to the season Stephen Sigmund’s side have points to work with and considerable momentum approaching what promises to be an exciting match up.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Wollongong Wolves, 2.15pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt secured a draw on their return to PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 action with Duncan Stewart’s brace against Hakoah Sydney City East earning Danial Cummins’ side their first point of the season.
Returning to Lambert Park APIA Leichhardt host an in-form Wollongong Wolves fresh from back to back victories over Blacktown Spartans and Rockdale City Suns. Alfredo Esteves’ Wolves have netted six and conceded just the solitary goal in their last two matches to rise to fifth position on the ladder and with Manly United and Hakoah Sydney City East facing off on the same afternoon Wollongong could find themselves nestled in a finals four position by Sunday evening.