Only divine intervention will prevent Sutherland Sharks from claiming the Premiership this weekend but the race for the semi-finals is set to reach an exciting climax with APIA Leichhardt Tigers, Sydney United 58, Rockdale City Suns, Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Hakoah Sydney City East all vying for a top five spot.
Blacktown City v APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 1.00pm at Lily’s Football Centre
APIA Leichhardt Tigers will have their position in the top five on the line when Franco Consentino’s side take on second-placed Blacktown City in Seven Hills on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers lie fourth on the ladder but anything less than a win against Blacktown could see Sydney United 58 and Rockdale City Suns go ahead of APIA should the fellow finals chasers win their respective matches against Manly United and Wollongong Wolves.
With APIA set to welcome the in-form Rockdale side to Lambert Park next Sunday in what looks likely to be a straight shootout for fourth or fifth position, the Tigers will know only a victory will suffice against Blacktown.
Forward Aedon Kyra notched his fifteenth goal of the campaign in APIA’s 2-1 win against Manly in round 20 and will present the central danger for the Blacktown defence, while City attacker Mason Ireland trails Kyra by a single goal in the golden boot standings.
The visitors claimed a 2-0 victory over Blacktown in their round 10 meeting at Lily’s.
Parramatta v Sutherland Sharks, 5.00pm at Melita Stadium
Premiers elect Sutherland Sharks need a point to confirm the title when they travel to bottom-placed Parramatta on Saturday afternoon.
Nick Dimovski’s side have long stood out as a clear favourites for the minor premiership and all but sealed the triumph last Saturday thanks to a 3-1 win over Sydney FC at Seymour Shaw.
Sutherland will relish the chance to flex their championship muscles against the struggling Eagles who conceded 11 against Hakoah Sydney City East last weekend.
The cellar-dwellers have lost 15 matches in a row and would need to produce the upset of the season on Saturday to delay Sutherland’s coronation.
Sydney FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 5.45pm at Lambert Park
Sydney FC will aim to confirm their position in the top five and end the finals hopes of Bonnyrigg White Eagles when the pair clash at Lambert Park on Saturday evening.
The Sky Blues have experienced a mini slump of late with just six points gained from their last five matches but remain a frequently tipped contender for the championship and would assure finals football with a win over the White Eagles.
Hamish Brown’s side beat Wollongong Wolves in round 20 to keep their season alive but would need to win both their remaining fixtures to stand a chance of finishing in the five.
Bonnyrigg had previously won seven matches in a row to climb from bottom of the table to as high as fifth in round seventeen but back to back losses to Sutherland and Rockdale have dented their semi-finals aspirations.
Sydney forward John Iredale will have one eye on the golden boot race when the two sides meet with the Sky Blues leading scorer level with APIA Leichhardt’s Aedon Kyra on 15.
Manly United v Sydney United 58, 1.00pm at Cromer Park
Sydney United 58 will look to consolidate their position in the top five when they travel to Cromer Park to take on Manly United on Sunday afternoon.
The Reds have won four in a row – including back to back 6-1 victories over Parramatta and Sydney Olympic – to revive their finals chances and with a reinforced roster look potential dark horses for the big prize. United 58 will be assured of a spot in the semi-finals should they win their remaining fixtures but will need to avoid a slip up against the reigning champions with a much trickier match against Blacktown City on the horizon.
Opponents Manly have won just one of their last nine matches but will be intent to close a disappointing campaign on a positive note. Attacker Jamie Glover has emerged as a bright spark for the Cromer Park outfit this season and will be aiming to improve his goal tally of 9 in nineteen.
Rockdale City Suns v Wollongong Wolves, 1.00pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale cannot afford to drop points at home to Wollongong when the in-form Suns host the Wolves at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday.
Despite winning six of their last eight Rockdale slipped out of the top five last weekend after a 2-2 draw with Blacktown City but will be aiming to see off the eleventh-placed visitors with minimum fuss.
Forward James Temelkovski has been a prime beneficiary of the Suns’ excellent run and notched another brace against City last weekend to make it seven goals in his last three matches.
Wollongong have been far from convincing throughout the course of the season season and must marshal the Suns attacker carefully if they wish to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat.
Sydney Olympic v Hakoah Sydney City East, 3.00pm at Lambert Park
Hakoah Sydney City East play Sydney Olympic at Lambert Park in the final match of this penultimate weekend knowing only a win will maintain their chances of finals football.
Currently three points off fifth-placed Sydney United 58, Hakoah must defeat Olympic on Sunday and Manly United at home next round while hoping their fellow competitors all stumble in order to snag a position in the five.
The visitors warmed up for this match with an 11-0 hammering of Parramatta last weekend but will face a much sterner test in the form of an Olympic side with a point to prove having fallen out of semi-final contention thanks to a 6-1 defeat to Sydney United 58 in round 20.
– –By Jacob Windon