The stakes couldn’t be higher as the two rivals in PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s competition go head to head for their chance at Grand Final glory.
Sydney United 58 will host Bonnyrigg White Eagles in a sudden death Preliminary Final at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday.
Blacktown City sealed their fate last week with their 3-2 win against United 58 confirming their spot at Leichhardt Oval on September 11 for the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s Grand Final.
Bonnyrigg and Sydney United 58 are sure to do everything they can to keep their Championship dreams alive on Sunday.
Sydney United 58 FC vs Bonnyrigg White Eagles, Sunday 3pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
More than just local bragging rights go on the line this Sunday when Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Sydney United face off.
It has been a season of contrasts for the two sides.
For Sydney United 58, Sunday’s match is a chance to keep their incredible winning season alive which has so far included PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s Premiership and Waratah Cup triumph.
The prospects of an incredible treble of league, Championship and cup success has inspired Mark Rudan’s Red’s team for weeks.
A last minute defeat against Blacktown in the Major Semi-Final was a bitter pill to swallow for United 58 and they will be fired up to right any wrongs.
Add in the extra spice of playing their long-time rivals and it’s a sure thing that every Sydney United 58 player will be giving it their all for victory.
Bonnyrigg has put their inconsistent regular season behind them and has played like a different team throughout the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s Finals Series as they set out to defend their 2015 Championship title.
Brian Brown’s men has put a total of nine goals past their opposition in two games despite only scraping into the finals series in fifth spot.
While the table topping Sydney United 58 will be their hardest task yet, Bonnyrigg will surely be up for the challenge.
Players to watch in this match include Sydney United 58’s Thomas Manos and Nick Stavroulakis.
Goal keeper Manos has been a beast between the sticks this season and, with the help of United 58’s disciplined backline, conceded the least goals of any other shot stopper in the competition.
Stavroulakis’ tireless efforts in midfield can often be overlooked but without the veteran defensive midfielder Sydney United 58 lack a vital cog. He chipped in with a goal against Blacktown last week and will be out to close down Bonnyrigg’s movement through the centre of the park.
The White Eagles front pairing of Robbie Younis and Aaron Peterson are the danger men for Bonnyrigg.
Younis has been a talisman for Bonnyrigg over the past few seasons and can score on a whim. Combined with the slick and dynamic play of Peterson, Sydney United 58 will have their work cut out in defence.
The competition’s best this year versus last year’s grand final winners is set to make a thrilling encounter.
Everything goes on the line for 90 minutes and you can be assured this clash will be a blockbuster.
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Archives for August 2016
With the 2016 PlayStation4 National Premier League NSW Men’s season reaching its crescendo, it’s that time of year where we reflect on the standout players who made this season great.
After every competition fixture, our reporters have been awarding 3, 2, 1 votes and they are added up to decide the make-up of this star studded team.
From the experienced campaigners to the young up and coming superstars, 2016’s team of the year has it all!
Paul Henderson (Sydney Olympic)
In a year where Leicester City captured the imagination of the football world, it was slightly poetic that one of their former players also shone this season. The keeping heroics of veteran Paul Henderson almost saw Sydney Olympic qualify for the finals with some tremendous saves, including some spectacular games where the experienced campaigner was awarded best on field on numerous occasions by various Football NSW journalists.
Nick Littler (Sutherland Sharks)
One of the most consistent performers this year, Nick Littler was a constant menace in the back line for Sutherland. Regularly on hand to shut down the opposition attack, Littler also proved himself as a handy shooter, becoming the Sharks second top goal scorer of the season – this was also thanks largely to the defender’s big frame and his aerial ability also.
Keiren Paull (Manly United)
It was a standout year for Keiren Paull, who featured in all off Manly United’s matches with some trademark stamina and speed. As his team charged towards the finals, Paull continued to lift his game and was also a key cog in the Manly attacking unit.
Tomislav Uskok (Sydney United 58)
In his debut PS4 NPL NSW Mens season coming from the Melbourne Knights in Victoria, Tomislav Uskok could have done little more to impress his new Sydney United 58 suitors. After scoring in his debut match, Uskok went from strength to strength. The central defender played an aggressive brand of football that was undoubtedly a major factor in United 58’s Premiership campaign.
Toufic Alameddine (Rockdale City Suns)
The sight of Toufic Alameddine charging up the wing became a regular occurrence in 2016, his blistering runs causing headaches for the opposition. Alameddine was near unstoppable in the majority of matches this year, setting up countless goals and nailing some himself.
Adam Parkhouse (Manly United)
What a year Adam Parkhouse has had. The young workhorse could hardly have asked for a better season. The 23-year-old was a powerhouse on the pitch, his high-tempo game impressing all as were his pin point crosses and service he provided in the Manly attack that saw him rise with the name ‘Assist King’ by his peers. In a sign of his fantastic potential, Ernie Merrick and the Wellington Phoeinx has taken on Parkhouse for the 2016/7 Hyundai A-League season.
Danny Choi (Blacktown City FC)
For the second year running, the electric Danny Choi led the dynamic midfield of Blacktown City superbly this season and once again has featured in the Team of the Year. The South Korean soon to be Australian maestro was dazzling in midfield and just as potent in front of goal, finishing as Blacktown City’s leading goal scorer.
Panni Nikas (Sydney United 58)
In a United 58 team bursting with potential, the performances of one man stood out this year. For sheer talent and breath-taking football, few could surpass Panni Nikas. He was superb across the park, be it in attack or defence, with the ball at his feet or finding space to create chances; Nikas had it all this season and was a regular fixture in the ‘Team of the Week’ as voted by the Football NSW journalists.
Mitchell Mallia (Blacktown City FC)
At just 24 year of age, it’s hard to believe that Mallia has represented two Hyundai A-League clubs and is also playing in his third year for the Blacktown City club. After an excellent 2016 season, the silky midfielder has truly stamped himself as one of the finest midfielders in the league.
Tasuku Sekiya (APIA Leichhardt Tigers)
Although it wasn’t the best season for the APIA Leichhardt Tigers, the scoring ability of their Japanese signing Tasuku Sekiya was one of the highlights of the year, especially at Lambert Park. Sekiya regularly bamboozled defenders with his crafty ball control and speed, finishing on top of the scorers list for his team.
Chris Payne (Sydney United 58)
With a ridiculous league high of 21 goals, star striker Chris Payne took the competition by storm in 2016. Week after week, he unleashed a flurry of shots with power and accuracy, his hunger for goal never seeming to be satisfied.
Tom Manos (Sydney United 58)
Without a reliable goalkeeper, any team would struggle to rise to the top of the table, and United 58 shot stopper Tom Manos is a testament to this. His daring saves and defence marshalling inspired those around him. It’s no secret that the title of stingiest defence in the league belongs to United 58 due to Manos’ presence.
Zac Mackenzie (Wollongong Wolves)
Although the Wollongong Wolves couldn’t match the heights of last year, defender Zac Mackenzie continued to impress each week for the club. His work ethic was solid throughout the year and was courageous in defence.
Brendan Cholakian (Manly United)
With bucket loads of skills, Brendan Cholakian continues to be a stalwart of the Manly United attack. The midfielder was deadly around the penalty area, and could always be counted upon to step up in attack when needed.
Blake Ricciuto (Rockdale City Suns)
Blake Ricciuto was at the forefront of the Rockdale City Suns engine room, grinding it out week after week with the same tough attitude towards his football. He tackled solidly in defence and showed great endurance throughout the season.
Aaron Peterson (Bonnyrigg White Eagles)
The only player from last year’s Championship winning Bonnyrigg team to be included in this squad, Aaron Peterson was one of the biggest improvers of 2016. A formidable striker of the ball, Peterson shone in attack with his awareness and array of ball skills.
Jacob Tratt and Sydney United 58 FC are refusing to let last week’s last-minute Major Semi Final loss to Blacktown City FC get them down.
If anything, Tratt thinks he and his team’s performance last week proved they are good enough to win the PlayStation® 4 National Premier Leagues New South Wales Men’s championship.
United are already premiers, having run away with the league title, while they also took out the Waratah Cup and despite losing to a last-minute Danny Choi winner last week, Tratt believes his team are still good enough to win everything.
"I think the big thing from the weekends game was that I feel like we dominated proceedings," Tratt said.
"The ball just did not want to go into the back of the net.
"We take confidence from that. We know that deep down when the time comes we will be able to take those chances and that serves us well leading up to this weekend’s game."
Not that Tratt expects Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC to roll over in the Preliminary Final.
The reigning PS4 NPL NSW Men’s champions know how to win finals, but Tratt said they will face a determined Sydney United 58 FC this week.
"We’ve got two wins from two against Bonnyrigg this season, so that is a plus for us," Tratt said.
"I think we have the players and the ability to get the win.
"Obviously it’s a derby game so both teams are motivated to win and it increases the desire all around.
"But we put the same amount of pressure on ourselves to win every game. We always expect to win.”
The former Sydney FC defender praised coach Mark Rudan and the club as a whole for instilling such a winning mentality in the team.
"This club is exceptional. Honestly, the morale here is second to none," Tratt said.
"It’s one of the best clubs I have been a part of. It’s rare to be at a club where all the players, all the coaches share the exact same goal and push each other like we do here.
"And Mark, honestly, he has helped me massively.
"He’s a big reason that I came here. He was a defender at Sydney FC too and I knew that I could try and extract as much information as I could from him about defending and all
the different techniques to become a better defender.
"He is a massive part of why I have improved so much in the last six months."
But as far as Tratt and his team-mates have come this season, he admitted that the team would unlikely be satisfied without a championship to show for it all.
"We set out wanting to be the best United team there has been in the Premier League," Tratt said.
"I think we were one point off matching the club’s best ever points tally in the league. We’ve won the league and we’ve won the cup.
"But there is still a massive desire to win the grand final and we are doing everything possible to make that happen."
-By Matt Galea
The penultimate fixture of the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 season falls on Sunday morning with Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Sydney Olympic facing off at Edensor Park in a bid to confirm their attendance at next fortnight’s Grand Final.
In keeping with what has been a thoroughly unpredictable campaign, the preliminary final has offered up an unlikely match up – but one that should be hugely anticipated and an encounter that will undoubtedly be fiercely contested by both.
For Sydney Olympic, the fifth-place finishers from the normal season and rank outsiders to claim the championship at the beginning of the finals series, the meeting with Bonnyrigg looks to be symbolic of the Belmore club’s season – and how they’ve managed to time their run to the finals so expertly.
When the White Eagles defeated Olympic 2-1 at Bonnyrigg Sports Club in Round 18, the Blues looked consigned to a hugely disappointing mid-table finish. The defeat left John Theodoropoulos’ side in ninth position and five points away from a finals berth, a seemingly impossible deficit to overcome.
But nearly two months on from that loss, Olympic approach Sunday’s preliminary final with considerable momentum following seven wins in a row, and having beaten competition heavyweights Sutherland Sharks and APIA Leichhardt Tigers in consecutive elimination finals they are shaping up to be tricky customers for Bonnyrigg.
Key to this late season revival has been the emergence of the consistency that was sorely lacking over the first half of Olympic’s campaign. Captain and central defender James Combes has marshalled an ever-improving back four with impressive nous, while in Nikita Andricopoulos and Michael Loupis Olympic possess two diminutive attackers able to produce moments of brilliance from anywhere.
It leaves Bonnyrigg, who have been handicapped by the losses of Asmir Kadric and Martin Lo to the first-team, with plenty to consider when they arrive at Sydney United Sports Centre. Stephen Sigmund’s side gave Premiers’ Manly one of their toughest tests of resolve all season in last week’s grand final qualifier but were unable to capitalize on a series of well-constructed opportunities and the absence of Kadric will surely be felt again on Sunday.
In this minor reshuffle of the team, Bonnyrigg have promoted exciting youngster Luke Ivanovic to lead the line in recent months and the forward has deputized steadily with six goals from 11 appearances. With the likes of Harrison Bagot dictating play from midfield and Leon Faria offering an attacking presence from fullback the White Eagles offer plenty of quality needed to scupper the Olympic fairytale.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Sydney Olympic, Sunday 10.30am at Sydney United Sports Centre
-By Jacob Windon
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Today, one of the toughest jobs in football is being a coach.
Many struggle to finish off a season with the demands of clubs so high, let alone spend a few years in the same dugout.
Brian ‘Bomber’ Brown is into his eighth season at PlayStation4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s side the Bonnyrigg White Eagles, a commendable feat for both club and coach.
Brown took over the reigns with long time assistant Cliff Pointer mid-season in 2009, with the club languishing in second bottom on the ladder, and relegation beckoning.
Since finishing in a respectable ninth that season, the White Eagles have made the finals every year since then, taking four Premierships and two Championships.
“It’s outstanding for a club like us.
“It has now become unacceptable not to be up the top or in the Finals for the coaches and players”, Brown said.
Bomber has become a popular figure for the White Eagles faithful and he describes what keeps him going year after year at Bonnyrigg Sports Ground.
“The people at Bonnyrigg motivate me in lots of ways, as well as Cliffy and the players through their commitment.
“The volunteers at the club all work hard every week and give money from their own pockets so we don’t want to let them down along with the loyal supporters.
“The real motivation though comes from the players, when you put the team together and it gels and results come.
“I give the players everything I got and I expect them to give it back.”
The White Eagles mentor has a simple motto that he has followed throughout his life.
“Since I was a young boy I’d walk like a winner, talk like a winner, act like a winner and you’ll be the winner.”
The Bomber-Cliffy duo has endured much success, winning various Premierships and Championships at Sutherland Sharks and Blacktown City, where they contested six straight Grand Finals.
“Cliff and I maybe be older but we try to think younger, you have to change with time and with what’s happening in the world.”
This season seemed destined to break the White Eagles run of consecutive Finals appearances but the boys in red somehow snuck into the Top 5.
“It was very tough and the first person I look at is myself, what I’ve done, what the teams done, right formation, right team etc.
“Through the year I’ve made some errors, but the day you stop looking should be the day you stop coaching.
“Cliffy and I are already preparing to change a few things for next year that we did this year, It’s all about correcting mistakes.
“Throughout the season we were plagued by things you can fix and things you can’t.
“The ones we can we will try to fix, the others we can’t and have to live with that.”
Many thought that it would be hard for the team, to recover in time from last Wednesday’s disappointing Westfield FFA Cup loss to Blacktown City but instead the White Eagles showed true character and fight.
“The boys were so pumped I didn’t do much, it’s these moments the Robbie Younis’, Jimmy Chronopoulos’, David Vrankovic’s, Nikola Zonjic’s, Aaron Peterson’s and Sammy Gallaway’s step up and show what they can do so it all came together.
“We don’t want (Robbie) Younis and (Nikola) Zonjic to go out not being Champions.”
The last league defeat that kick started this good form came against local rivals Sydney United 58 and Bomber knows how his team will approach this clash.
“It’s a cup game, knockout, we’ll approach it how we approached last Saturday with everything to gain and we’ll play it to win it.
“We’re a big chance and if we can reproduce Saturday night, I’m confident we will go to the Grand Final again.”
This season Brown has given first grade debuts to two teenagers, Asmir Kadric and Martin Lo, with one word to describe them.
“Outstanding potential both of them, they still have plenty of work to do but are more than capable of going to the next level.
“They’re great kids and I think next year they will be key players for us.”
There are more youngsters brewing at Bonnyrigg Sports Ground with the under 20’s team flying high also.
“There are 3 or 4 players, maybe even more so close and knocking on the door.
“Despite losing 2-0 last Saturday night, I was proud to sit in the stand and watch how well they played with seven players that could’ve played under 18’s and that’s the future of Bonnyrigg.
“We are in the position to do that and the coaches have done well.”
Wining the Championship from fifth place would be some achievement and with the words of another Scottish managerial giant, Brian Brown signed off.
“I definitely believe we can win it.
“As Alex Ferguson said, ‘my job is to make everyone understand the impossible is possible’, three-four weeks ago it would be said it is impossible to win it and now we’re one win away from a Grand Final.”
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