After every round of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Men’s season Team of the Week brings to focus the best players from that weekend.
Sutherland Sharks have continued their late season resurgence with a strong win over Wollongong to stay in the hunt for the finals. Young gun Chris McStay was impressive in midfield, undaunted by the responsibility to control the Sharks engine room. Despite copping a nasty head injury, McStay was able to craft a beautiful through ball to set up the opener. Nick Littler again showed why he is one of the competition’s most versatile defenders, a clinical performance at the back matched by his attacking prowess up front. Littler ghosted into the penalty area and headed home the Sharks second in the 55th minute, proving to be crucial in setting up the 3-1 victory.
A Manly United master class in attack has sounded a warning shot to the rest of the competition, routing the Spartans 5-0 on Sunday. Adam Parkhouse was unstoppable in the first half, bagging a brace and running riot on the left wing. He was unlucky to miss out on a hat trick just before half-time when a scrambling Spartan defender cleared Parkhouse’s goal bound shot. Having recently played for the Mariners in a trial, Parkhouse certainly did his A-League credentials no harm.
Teammate Luke Giverin had turned out in the same trial match, and showed off his class and composure in defense with a clearance off the line when a Spartan goal beckoned. Up front, Manly were just as deadly thanks to a brace from local junior and Young Socceroos trialist Dejan Pandurevic. The talented youngster scored his first from 25 yards with a thunderous shot, before stepping up a gear in the second half to terrify the Spartans defence and pick up a well deserved brace.
A comfortable 3-0 win has kept Blacktown City on track for another finals campaign, whilst their opponents Rockdale struggled to maintain their lofty ambitions. With both sides sitting in the top four, the stage was set for a classic arm wrestle, but City proved too strong thanks to a stand out display from Danny Choi. The Korean striker was electric in the opening stages, setting up countless chances, with a few almost resulting in goals had it not been for the linesman’s offside flag. After his excellent set-up work in the first half, Choi showed off his finishing skills in the second term with a superb chip to bring up City’s third.
City was just as ruthless in defense, with Giorgio Speranza showcasing some great skill and resilience against his former team to hold them scoreless. His ball control proved just as potent, shifting the ball to his midfielders with ease when under pressure. City shot stopper Nenad Vekic was outstanding in goals, pulling off some spectacular saves in the later stages of the match to deny Rockdale any chance of a goal.
An exhilarating finish between Sydney Olympic and Hakoah Sydney City East sent the fans wild at Belmore Sports Ground, the home side scoring in the dying minutes courtesy of hat trick hero Joshua Gaspari. The Olympic striker was on fire in the first 20 minutes, securing an early brace through sheer strength and a hunger for goal. His precision seemed to go astray in the second half as Hakoah clawed their way back into the contest. But Gaspari had the final say with a clinical volley in the 92nd minute to seal a 4-3 win.
Ladder leaders Sydney Unite 58 looked on track for another win before dynamic APIA midfielder Nick Olsen clinched a thrilling draw. The former Young Socceroo caused headache for the United 58 defense, as he continually probed around the penalty area. When United 58 began to click into gear, Olsen refused to back down and his second half double ultimately proved to be enough to snatch a point. Earlier, Panni Nikas displayed his enormous talent with a great free kick to open the scoring. The classy midfielder almost scored the winner in the dying stages with another free kick, but could only watch his shot sailed just wide.
GK – Nenad Vekic – Blacktown City
LB – Luke Giverin – Manly United
CB – Nick Littler – Sutherland Sharks
RB – Giorgio Speranza – Blacktown City
LM – Adam Parkhouse – Manly United
CM – Chris McStay – Sutherland Sharks
CM – Panni Nikas – Sydney United 58 FC
RM – Nick Olsen – APIA Leichhardt Tigers
ST – Dejan Pandurevic – Manly United
ST – Joshua Gaspari – Sydney Olympic
ST – Danny Choi – Blacktown City