It’s a big weekend for Blacktown City and Sydney FC with the two premiership candidates facing off on Sunday, while Bonnyrigg White Eagles can put serious pressure on the top five with a win over Sydney United 58.
Match of the Round
Blacktown City v Sydney FC, Sunday 1.00pm at Lilys Football Centre
Second plays third in Seven Hills on Sunday where Blacktown City host Sydney FC in the Match of the Round fixture at Lily’s Football Centre.
Both sides are looking to close the gap on competition leaders Sutherland and with only seven rounds of the regular season remaining this clash looms as a potentially decisive one in the premiership race.
The match will feature the two best defensive sides in the competition so far with David Zdrilic’s Sky Blues boasting just 14 goals conceded, while hosts Blacktown City are a close second in that category with 16.
Blacktown may sense an opportunity to complete a league double over the visitors with Sydney leaking five goals in their last two encounters against fifth-placed Sydney Olympic and struggling Manly United.
It will nevertheless be an intriguing matchup with some of the season’s standout players like City’s Mason Ireland (eight goals from midfield) and Sydney’s highly rated Sam Mcillhatton (a first grade debutant in last weekend’s defeat to Manly) sure to catch the eye.
Manly United v Parramatta, 5.00pm at Cromer Park
Club championship strugglers Parramatta are looking to avoid a tenth consecutive defeat when they travel to fellow cellar-dwellers Manly United on Saturday evening.
The Melita Stadium outfit are the competitions equal lowest scorers with just 13 goals to date and have failed to pick up a single point since their round five clash with Manly.
Although Parramatta have a game in hand, the Eagles are seven points behind their eleventh-placed opponents and will be intent on reducing the deficit at Cromer Park.
If the visitors can reverse their attacking fortunes they will fancy their chances at stopping the rot on the weekend, with the Manly defence suffering a miserable campaign to date having conceded 36 goals in their 15 matches.
The reigning Premiers have endured season to forget so far and will need a win to restore any hope of making the finals.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Sydney United 58, 12.00pm at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Bonnyrigg White Eagles were propping up the competition table a month ago but Hamish Brown’s side could leapfrog rivals Sydney United 58 on the ladder and rise as high as sixth if they claim their sixth straight victory on Saturday night.
The White Eagles have put in a remarkable turnaround in form in the last month which has seen the side defeat three top five sides including an excellent come from behind victory over APIA Leichhardt Tigers last Saturday.
It’s been a tale of polar opposites for visitors Sydney United 58 who were consigned a fourth straight defeat after going down 3-1 to Sutherland Sharks last Saturday. The Reds have lost key players and face a massive uphill battle in order to halt both their slide and resurgent White Eagles.
Sydney Olympic v Rockdale City Suns, 12.45pm at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic can consolidate their position in the top five with a win over Rockdale City Suns in their Sunday lunchtime clash in Belmore.
The Blues have won two in a row including a fantastic 3-0 win over Sydney FC in round fourteen to open up a four point gap to sixth-placed Hakoah Sydney City East.
However it won’t be easy against a Rockdale side who have won back to back games for the first time this campaign following a pair of narrow losses to competition heavyweights Sydney FC and APIA Leichhardt.
The Suns have struggled for goals throughout the campaign having scored a competition low of 13 but with Jonathan Grozdanovski netting a brace in last Sunday’s victory over Hakoah Sydney City East the Ilinden side will hope to continue their upward trajectory in Belmore.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Sutherland Sharks, 1.00pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East will be hoping to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to Rockdale when they welcome leaders Sutherland Sharks to Hensley Athletic Field on Sunday.
Paul Hubbard’s side had won two in a row before their frustrating round fifteen loss at Ilinden Sports Centre and need a victory to keep pace with Sydney Olympic in fifth position.
Visitors Sutherland continue to lead the way at the top of the table and consolidated their lead with a 3-1 victory over Sydney United 58 last Saturday. The Sharks are the competition’s highest scorers with 43 and an array of attacking talent will make them hard to stop for the hosts.
However if Hakoah can draw inspiration from their 2-2 with the Sharks in round five and provide attacking ammunition to leading goalscorer Connor Eldridge the premiership race could be set to take another turn.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Wollongong Wolves, 2.30pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt slumped to a 3-2 loss against Bonnyrigg last Saturday evening and need to avoid losing further ground on Sutherland at home to Wollongong Wolves in the final match of round sixteen.
The Tigers are seven points behind the competition leaders as a result and another defeat would be extremely costly with a host of mid-table teams ready to pounce should the Lambert Park outfit slip up.
Fortunately for APIA, opponents Wollongong have been blowing hot and cold all season and come into the match on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Blacktown City. The Wolves have been unable to garner any consistency throughout the year but a win over the premiership outsiders on Sunday may give the South Coast side the confidence they need to breathe new life into their campaign.
-By Jacob Windon