Round 10 of the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 competition commences on Saturday where Blacktown Spartans and Hakoah Sydney City East look to re-enter the top six against Sutherland Sharks and Bonnyrigg, whilst Manly United host Sydney United 58 attempting to vindicate last week’s defeat to APIA Leichhardt.
Coming off the back of their big win over the former leaders the Tigers host the Match of the Round at Lambert Park, welcoming the new competition frontrunners Blacktown City.
Match of the Round
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Blacktown City, Sunday 2.15pm at Lambert Park
Third-placed APIA Leichhardt Tigers take on competition leaders Blacktown City at Lambert Park on Sunday in an encounter that ought to be considered match of the season so far.
Both sides enter Round Ten’s Match of the Round in scintillating form with Blacktown on a four match winning streak, whilst APIA have won five from five in their march to third on the competition ladder – despite having two games in hand on Sunday’s opponents.
The side produced a statement of intent last weekend when they beat previous competition frontrunners Manly United 2-0 at Cromer Park, a match that saw in-form forward Duncan Stewart claim his sixth goal of the season.
That was a result that allowed Blacktown City to assume pole position on the ladder for the first time this season when Ross Bourke’s side hammered Blacktown Spartans 4-1 at Lilys Football Centre.
City forward Jonathan Grozdanovski notched a double in last Saturday’s Blacktown Derby win to bring his tally up to eight for the season – only Sydney Olympic talisman Adrian Vranic has found the back of the net more (nine in seven matches) than the 2015 season golden boot winner.
Blacktown Spartans v Sutherland Sharks, 5.00pm at Blacktown Football Park
Having won just once in their last five Blacktown Spartans host Sutherland Sharks at Blacktown Football Park on Saturday afternoon looking to arrest a poor run of form.
A 4-1 loss in the Blacktown Derby was the most recent frustration in a string of below par performances and one that saw the side fall out of the top six for the first time all season.
It won’t be easy to recover against a Sutherland side who have demonstrated they are shrewd operators on their day as big results over leaders Blacktown City and tricky finals hopefuls Wollongong Wolves have shown.
A win at Blacktown Football Park, where the Spartans have only lost once this season (a shock 3-2 defeat to last-placed Sydney United 58 in Round Six) is crucial for Samuel Jacob’s men, with another loss potentially placing the team as low as ninth with the teams around them finding form.
Manly United v Sydney United 58, 5.00pm at Cromer Park
Manly United were toppled by APIA Leichhardt in just their second loss of the campaign last Sunday in a result that relinquished their vice grip on the competition lead for the first time this season.
But Andrew Christiansen’s team will fancy their chances at delivering a determined response at Cromer Park against a Sydney United 58 team languishing at the foot of the PlayStation 4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 table.
Davor Bajsic’s youthful ranks have offered plenty of promise but have struggled in front of goal with just nine goals from their opening nine matches, and coming up against a ruthless Manly side hurting from last week’s defeat to APIA, United will need to turn in their strongest showing of the season to escape what would be seventh defeat of the campaign.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 5.00pm at Hensley Athletic Field
With just one win from their last seven, Hakoah Sydney City East will be desperate to stop the rot when the high-flying Bonnyrigg White Eagles come to Hensley Athletic Field on Saturday afternoon.
Despite a clean sheet in Round Seven’s victory over Sutherland Sharks, the ninth placed Hakoah have conceded 14 goals in their last five games and have slipped to ninth position on the PlayStation 4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 table.
It comes as quite the reverse in fortunes to Saturday’s opponents Bonnyrigg who have won five out of their last six on their charge to fourth place.
Stephen Sigmund’s side boast the best defensive record in the competition with eight goals conceded so far and the considerable momentum behind the White Eagles will make them a daunting proposition for Hakoah as they try to break their slump.
Rockdale City Suns v Sydney Olympic, 3.00pm at Ilinden Sport Centre
Now or never time is threatening to dawn on Ilinden Sport Centre with 11th placed Rockdale City Suns in desperate need of a victory over Sydney Olympic to halt a run of five consecutive losses.
It has been a tale of close but not close enough for the Rockdale side especially in recent weeks, with narrow defeats to premiership heavyweights APIA Leichhardt, Blacktown City and Manly United summing up a frustrating campaign so far.
They face a Sydney Olympic outfit who have proven to be a thrilling watch so far this season. The Belmore club are lurking dangerously in sixth position and new coach John Theodoropoulos amending some longstanding defensive issues Olympic are beginning to look a formidable proposition.
Olympic will be without key attacker Michael Loupis who accumulated his fifth yellow card of the season in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Wollongong Wolves.
Wollongong Wolves v Parramatta, 3.00pm at WIN Stadium
Parramatta will be looking to build on a string of excellent results in recent weeks when they travel to the South Coast to face Wollongong Wolves on Sunday afternoon.
Although Mark Zecchin’s side have found themselves in the bottom three of the PlayStation 4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 for the entire season they have demonstrated they are no easy-beats and with results now following their consistent level of performance there’s plenty of optimism around Melita Stadium.
A win at WIN Stadium would bring Parramatta within a point of Wollongong in eighth, who are searching for their first win since Round Five’s 2-0 defeat of APIA Leichhardt.
Alfredo Esteves’ side adopted a back to basics approach in their 1-1 draw with Sydney Olympic in the Round Nine Match of the Round at Lambert Park and the Wolves will hope to build on a positive point with the top six gaining momentum.
-By Jacob Windon