Season ambitions will go on the line in Round 15 of the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 competition and with only eight rounds remaining the margin for error is lessening by the week.
This week the newly anointed competition frontrunners Sutherland Sharks travel to Sydney Olympic, while heavyweights Manly United and Bonnyrigg clash at Cromer Park.
But the Match of the Round is at Lambert Park where APIA Leichhardt Tigers host Hakoah Sydney City East.
Match of the Round
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Hakoah Sydney City East, Sunday 2.15pm at Lambert Park
One of five matches to take place on Sunday afternoon, APIA Leichhardt Tigers await the visit of Hakoah Sydney City East in a crucial mid-table battle at Lambert Park knowing a position in the top six is up for grabs.
Only goal difference separates the two sides coming into the encounter with both outfits placed seventh and sixth respectively and they will both be eager to nail down a position in the finals series as the logjam in the middle of the table intensifies.
Hakoah Sydney City East entered the top six once again last week with a routine 3-0 win over a struggling Blacktown Spartans in a match that saw a return to goal scoring form for Brad Paikin and Richard Blanco. The league newcomers are unbeaten in their last four and have continued to improve under the watchful eyes of Donato D’Agrosa and Patrick Darvill.
Sunday’s opponents in APIA Leichhardt Tigers are looking for a similar reversal in goal scoring fortune when the two clash in the Round 15 Match of the Round: George Sidis’ side have been held scoreless in three of their last four outings. Ex Manly United forward and golden boot hopeful Duncan Stewart will hold the key for the finals-chasing Tigers after coming off a treble against Sydney Olympic a fortnight ago.
Blacktown Spartans v Wollongong Wolves, 5.00pm at Blacktown Football Park
Defeat to Hakoah Sydney City East in Round 14 extended a sorry record of seven losses in their last nine matches for the underperforming Blacktown Spartans, who after leading the competition in the opening month now find their season slipping away.
Samuel Jacob’s side host fifth-placed Wollongong Wolves on Saturday afternoon looking restore the optimism around Blacktown Football Park but it won’t be an easy task against a grizzled South Coast side who are travelling consistently under Alfredo Esteves.
A rudimentary 3-1 win at home to Rockdale City Suns last weekend continued a steady flow of results for the Wolves who are unbeaten in their last five and have a game in hand on the rest of the top six.
Stefan Dimoski netted a brace against Rockdale to compliment some impressive showings and goals for the first team in recent weeks and with Wolves forward developing into a key figure for Wollongong at an important stage in the season the side will be confident of maintaining their momentum against the Spartans.
Sydney Olympic v Sutherland Sharks, 1.00pm at Belmore Sports Ground
Sutherland Sharks took the competition lead for the first time this season last weekend with Manly United dropping points at Parramatta but Allan Edmondson’s side will have to be at their best to retain their advantage when they take on Sydney Olympic at Belmore Sports Ground.
After defeating Manly United 4-3 at Cromer Park two weeks ago and going down 4-2 to reigning champions Blacktown City in Round 14’s Match of the Round it’s another big game for the Belmore side who currently sit just outside the finals positions in eighth.
But as their performances over the last month have shown, even in their defeat against Blacktown on Sunday, this is an Olympic side developing into a genuine championship dark horse under John Theodoropoulos and they will be ought to prove their credentials against Sutherland.
However the Sharks could not be better prepared for what ought to be a gripping Sunday afternoon contest having kept three clean sheets in all three of their last away fixtures.
Manly United v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 1.00pm at Cromer Park
A loss at home to Sydney Olympic in Round 13 was followed by more dropped points away to Parramatta in Round 14 as Manly United yielded their grip on the competition lead no sooner than taking it from Blacktown City little over a fortnight ago.
Andrew Christiansen’s side have a chance to get the record straight when Bonnyrigg White Eagles travel to Cromer Park in what is shaping to be a hugely anticipated third versus fourth clash on Sunday afternoon.
The White Eagles have returned to form following home setbacks against Rockdale and Wollongong last month and were particularly miserly last Saturday when they cruised to a 2-0 victory over APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Blacktown City v Parramatta, 1.00pm at Lilys Football Centre
A 4-2 win over Sydney Olympic in Round 14’s Match of the Round was enough for the Ben Wright-coached Blacktown City to return to the winners circle after four consecutive rounds without a victory.
Although the reigning champions rode their luck in the second half after racing to a 3-0 lead, Blacktown looked back to their formidable best during patches and will look to build on the performance when they host Parramatta at Lilys Football Centre.
Having held championship contenders Manly United to a draw at Melita Stadium last weekend Parramatta will aim to go a step further when they make the daunting away trip to Seven Hills.
In what was a frustrating encapsulation of their 2016 season, Parramatta led 2-0 against Manly before surrendering two late goals to miss the chance on leapfrogging Blacktown Spartans on the competition ladder.
Mark Zecchin’s side will look to harness the positives of that showing on Sunday in a match that Parramatta must win to get back into finals contention.
Sydney United 58 v Rockdale City Suns, 2.00pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
The competition’s two bottom teams in Sydney United 58 and Rockdale City Suns meet at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon looking to keep their respective seasons alive.
It has been a disappointing season so far for both United 58 and Rockdale and Round 15’s clash represents something of one final shot at pulling a run of form together in order for a late run for the finals.
With both sides in the last chance saloon it should make for an entertaining affair at Sydney United Sports Centre, a venue that has afforded ten goals in its’ last two fixtures.