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.
Blacktown Spartans finished their poor 2016 campaign on a winning note, a Shu Sasaki goal proving to be enough for the home side to topple Sydney Olympic. Japanese maestro Sasaki lead from the front, the dynamic striker tormenting the Olympic defense and growing in confidence with each damaging run. With the crowd lifting every time he got he ball, Sasaki finally rewarded them when he pounced onto a lobbed ball and slotted it in for the opening goal in the 35th minute. For Olympic, Anthony Tomelic impressed with a fine display at the back, and almost scored through a superb free kick. But his side couldn’t muster a reply, the match finishing 1-0 in favour of Spartans.
After a rare loss last week, Sydney United 58 have bounced back to end their regular season with a disciplined 3-1 victory over Hakoah Sydney City East. The 2016 Premiers weren’t at their best, but controlled the midfield well and played the match on their terms. Nick Stavroulakis was in everything for United 58, marshaling his troops like a general and gave no inch to the Hakoah attack. Having prided themselves on their rock solid defense all season, Stavroulakis’ efforts were matched by that of team mate Tomislav Uskok. The former Mariner’s defender played a physical style of football, whilst remaining composed with the ball at his feet. With all eyes now on the finals, the impressive defensive display from United 58 looks to be a key factor in their championship ambitions.
APIA Leichhardt put a halt to the Sutherland Sharks unbeaten run, muscling their way to 4-1 win courtesy of a hat trick from Jordan Murray. The young goal-scoring ace capped off a stellar season with his new club with a stunning attacking burst in the second half. After a scoreless first half, Murray broke the match wide open with a classy goal in the 51st minute before running riot over the Sharks defense. Dominic Cox was lethal on the right wing for APIA, darting up the wing to keep the visitors on the back foot. Cox took his chances with some delightful crosses and kicked up a gear in the second half to help his team net four goals in a little over twenty minutes.
Defending champions Bonnyrigg White Eagles did enough to secure their spot in the finals with a 2-0 win against Wollongong. Although they have stumbled at times this year, the attacking prowess of the White Eagles was on show at WIN Stadium as they set up countless goal-scoring chances. The Wolves struggled to contain the dangerous Robbie Younis, the dynamic striker peppering the goal. Although he failed to find the goal, Younis’ electric work rate kept the pressure on Wollongong throughout the match and he is sure to light up the finals.
A determined effort from captain Paul Reid inspired the Rockdale Suns to a thrilling 3-2 victory. Ever the team man, Reid capped off the regular season with his first goal of the season and had a hand in setting up another. The veteran midfielder found another level at the hour mark, and his side lifted around him. Pouncing onto a low cross in the 66th minute, Reid’s wonderful strike found the bottom corner of the net and drew the scores level. Two quick fire goals a few minutes later ensured the Suns took the lead, Reid’s men holding on for a dramatic win.
Manly goalkeeper Dylan Mitchell turned in an outstanding effort to keep a clean sheet, as his side drew 0-0 with Blacktown City. Both sides are genuine title contenders thanks to their canny ability to find the net, but it was the defensive efforts that really caught the eye on Sunday. Mitchell had an on-going battle with City’s Mitchell Malia, who could’ve had a hat trick if not for the sharp reflexes of the Manly shot stopper. The former Sydney FC striker appeared unstoppable, darting with speed and skill around the 18-yard box but couldn’t find the goal. Teammate Shane D’Cunha excelled in defense, shutting down Manly’s attacking raids and provided excellent ball to his midfielders.
GK – Dylan Mitchell Manly United
LB – Anthony Tomelic Sydney Olympic
CB – Tomislav Uskok Sydney United 58
RB – Shane D’Cunha Blacktown City FC
LM – Mitchell Mallia Blacktown City FC
CM – Nick Stavroulakis Sydney United 58
CM – Paul Reid Rockdale City Suns
RM – Dominic Cox APIA Leichhardt Tigers
ST – Robbie Younis Bonnyrigg WE
ST – Jordan Murray APIA Leichhardt Tigers
ST – Shu Sasaki Blacktown Spartans