The current top four in the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s U20’s competition are all in action against each other in a heated Round Nine that also sees Bonnyrigg White Eagles travel to Sydney United 58.
But the match of the round is at Lambert Park where Sydney Olympic host Wollongong Wolves, with both sides vying to enter the top six.
Match of the Round
Sydney Olympic v Wollongong Wolves, Sunday 1.00pm at Lambert Park
Sydney Olympic have staked a reputation as one of the more entertaining outfits to grace the PlayStation4 NPL NSW Men’s U20’s league this season and an end-to-end encounter beckons again when they host Wollongong Wolves at Lambert Park.
Although the side have been anchored by their propensity to lapse defensively, only leaders Manly United (18) have scored more goals than Sydney Olympic (17) this campaign. The Belmore side hold one of the competition’s most talented assets in forward Adrian Vranic who has scored nine in seven this season and with the likes of Sebastian Malfara and Michael Loupis coming to the fore in recent weeks, the goals are flowing freely for John Theodoropoulos’ team.
The former collected a brace in the side’s commanding 4-0 win over Hakoah Sydney City East last weekend, a performance that yielded Olympic’s first clean sheet of the season. New manager Theodoropoulos will continue to improve his side’s defence starting against a Wollongong Wolves side who are looking to avoid a fourth defeat in a row.
The fixture list has not been kind to Alfredo Esteves’ side, who were on the end of defeats to competition frontrunners Manly United and Blacktown City in consecutive weeks before falling 3-0 to Sutherland Sharks at home in disappointing fashion in Round Nine.
Sutherland Sharks v Rockdale City Suns, 4.30pm at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland had won just one from four prior to what looked a daunting away trip to Wollongong Wolves in Round Eight but Allan Edmonson’s men inflicted a 3-0 defeat on the South Coast side to leapfrog the Wolves into the top six.
The Sharks now return to Seymour Shaw after what should be a morale boosting victory to host a Rockdale City Suns side who have not yet picked up a single point away from Ilinden Sports Centre, and will be desperate to avoid a fifth consecutive loss.
The tenth-placed side offered plenty of resilience against Blacktown City last weekend but were eventually downed 1-0, and in a season that has consistently offered plenty of surprises it would be folly to write off Rockdale despite their current malaise.
Blacktown City v Blacktown Spartans, 5.00pm at Lilys Football Centre
The two sides from Blacktown come face to face for the first time this season at Lilys Football Centre on Saturday and the derby carries an air of significance that has been absent in previous meetings between the two sides.
The Spartans have proven to be one of the competition’s surprise packages so far and trail the traditional heavyweights by five points on the competition ladder. Samuel Jacobs’ side are neatly positioned in fourth place but have stumbled of late, winning just one of their last five encounters – a 3-0 triumph over lowly Rockdale in Round Five.
With the likes of Sydney Olympic, Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Sutherland lying just a point away from the Spartans in fourth, another poor result threatens to see the team slide out of the top six for the first time this season.
It will be a big test of the side’s credentials against a Blacktown City team who have rampaged back into top form, winning four of their last five to stand a point behind leaders Manly United.
The clash will be influenced heavily by two potential golden boot candidates within either camp, with Blacktown Spartans’ Alex Mooy (seven goals in eight) and Blacktown City’s Jonathan Grozadanovski (six goals in six) facing off in what could be a crucial head to head match up in one of Round Nine’s big affairs.
Parramatta v Hakoah Sydney City East, 5.00pm at Melita Stadium
Parramatta were consigned to another week at the foot of the PlayStation4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 table after a 2-1 defeat at Bonnyrigg Sports Centre last weekend saw Mark Zecchin’s side’s mini-revival cut prematurely short.
It’s been a frustrating season so far for the Melita Stadium outfit and although the team have lost five of their seven matches they have remained fiercely competitive throughout, edged by a single goal on three occasions with the other two defeats valiant efforts against heavyweights Blacktown City and Manly United.
Despite the consistency in performance results have been at a premium and with the top six beginning to edge away, Parramatta must show they will not be considered also-rans when Hakoah Sydney City East come knocking on Saturday afternoon.
The league newcomers themselves have struggled for form since the opening weeks of the season, winning just one out of their last five and conceding thirteen in four of those encounters. Hakoah’s 1-0 triumph over Sutherland in Round Seven highlighted a steady template for improvement for the Pat Darvill and Dino D’Agrosa-coached side and the two Hakoah custodians might opt for a similar back to basics approach here as they look to keep a talented team in touch with the top six.
Sydney United 58 v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 12.00pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
The young Sydney United 58 from Edensor Park has endured a tough eight rounds so far, claiming just one win over Blacktown Spartans in Round Six. Davor Bajsic’s outfit managed a point against fellow strugglers Parramatta a week later in Round Seven but were convincingly beaten 3-0 by a high-flying APIA Leichhardt Tigers team last weekend in another setback.
The visit of one of the competition’s form teams in Bonnyrigg White Eagles will provide another firm examination of Sydney’s dwindling finals prospects. The Stephen Sigmund-coached White Eagles have been flying since since Round Four with four wins in their last five and with the top four all in action against each other this weekend, the way could be clear for Bonnyrigg to continue their impressive ascent.
Manly United v APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 1.00pm at Cromer Park
A 1-1 draw at Blacktown Football Park last weekend represented just the second blip of Manly United’s campaign as the competition leaders. Mitchell Rooke’s late equalizer could prove to be a significant one come the end of the season, and it exemplified the high standards Andrew Christiansen’s charges have exhibited in their excellent season so far.
Those standards must come to the fore again on Sunday when United host an APIA Leichhardt Tigers team who have rocketed into third-place with four wins in a row, including consecutive demolitions of Sydney Olympic and Sydney United. The Tigers missed the start of the season through their involvement in the Viareggio tournament in Italy but have exceeded expectations since their arrival and currently appear genuine a premiership threat.
-By Jacob Windon