The battle for the National Premier Leagues NSW 2018 premiership is set to go down to the wire with APIA Leichhardt Tigers and Sydney Olympic neck and neck coming into the final two weeks of the regular season.
APIA remain in top spot at the end of Round 20 but only thanks to their superior goal difference with Olympic also on 39 competition points.
The Tigers ensured the premiership race would be a two horse race with a 6-2 demolition of third placed Sydney United 58, all but killing off The Red’s slim chances of finishing the regular season on top.
Olympic’s Spanish striker Alejandro Sanchez was the difference for Olympic in their game against Sutherland, netting twice in the 3-1 win.
In other results Rockdale tightened their grip on fifth place and the final playoff spot with a 1-1 draw against Blacktown City, While sixth placed Marconi ensured the playoff picture wasn’t locked in with a win against Sydney FC.
Hakoah returned to the winners circle with a comprehensive victory against Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Manly shared the spoils with Wollongong Wolves at Cromer Park.
Manly United 1 – Wollongong Wolves 1 at Cromer Park
Manly United and Wollongong Wolves were forced to share the spoils despite a frantic final half an hour playing out a 1-1 draw at Cromer Park on Saturday.
With both sides in need of all three points from the do-or-clash, the result was an all-round disappointment for both sides desperate to secure their finals fate.
Wollongong’s Peter Simonoski opened the scoring against the run of play 14 minutes in, but his strike was cancelled out by a 63rd minute Jamie Lobb header.
While Manly enjoyed plenty of positive field position during a tight opening, they struggled to create clear cut opportunities in the final third.
The Wolves, on the other hand, forged enough openings to snatch it late.
However they were cruelly denied by a combination of Dylan Mitchell, the woodwork and a miraculous Kieren Paull goal line clearance.
In the end, both outfits were left with a bitterly disappointing point.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 0 – Hakoah Sydney City East 3 at Bonnyrigg Sports Ground.
The Bonnyrigg White Eagles hopes of National Premier Leagues NSW survival took a massive blow on Saturday night going down 3-0 to relegation rivals Sydney City East at Bonnyrigg Sports Ground.
Hakoah inflicted the damage with three goals during a fifteen minute flurry starting just before the interval.
James Combes rose highest from a corner on the stroke of half time before two more goals in the second period, each to Anthony Frangie and Takayuki Noji.
It was a massive win for Gavin Rae’s Hakoah outfit, taking a massive step toward survival.
Marconi Stallions 4 – Sydney FC 1 at Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions have kept their finals dreams alive with a 4-1 demolition of Sydney FC at Marconi Stadium on Sunday.
The win moves the Peter Tsekenis coached Stallions side to sixth in the competition standings, three points behind fifth placed Rockdale City Suns.
The Young Sky Blues opened the scoring after only two minutes thanks to a Jackson Bandiera who cooly finished after a Nenad Vekic save fell at his feet.
It took until just before the interval for the home side to equalise when Mateo Poljak converted from the penalty spot.
Sydney FC took it to Marconi in the first half, it was a far different story in the second stanza.
Hassan Jollah scored a brace against his former side inside nine minutes while Marko Jesic put the icing on the cake to wrap up the 4-1 victory.
Blacktown City 1 – Rockdale City Suns 1 at Lily Homes Stadium
Rockdale City Suns have tightened their grip on fifth position and the final playoff spot with a 1-1 draw against Blacktown City at Lily Homes Stadium on Sunday.
A tight first-half ended locked scoreless with both side’s unable to capitalise on their early chances.
Rockdale took the upper hand mid-way through the second stanza thanks to Jonathan Grozdanovski’s clinical headed finish.
Blacktown looked to fight back straight away but couldn’t find a way past Suns keeper Ante Covic.
With ten minutes left on the clock Blacktown finally found the back of the net when Mason Versi scored the equaliser.
Both teams had chances to finish the match on top but it just wasn’t to be with both side’s unable to find a winner.
Sydney Olympic 3 – Sutherland Sharks 1 at Belmore Sportsground
Sydney Olympic has silenced Sutherland Sharks with a 3-1 victory at Belmore Sportsground on Sunday afternoon to keep their Premiership hopes alive
Two goals to Spanish striker Alejandro Sanchez and one to Max Burgess cancelled out one from Sutherland’s Adrian Vranic to secure the victory for the home side.
Sanchez found the net after 30 minutes to opening the scoring and give the home side a 1-0 lead at the break before doubling his tally early in the second stanza.
Vranic pulled one back in the 60th minute but it wasn’t to be for the Sharks as Burgess wrapped up the win with a goal only eight minutes later.
The result means Olympic stays locked on equal points with league leaders but stay in second due to their inferior goal difference.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 6 – Sydney United 58 2 at Lambert Park.
A four goal haul from star striker Jordan Murray has helped APIA Leichhardt flex their Premiership muscles in a 6-2 domination of Sydney United 58 at Lambert Park on Sunday.
Murray, the National Premier Leagues NSW top scorer, extended his tally to 23 goals for the season with his prolific performance which included a hat trick inside the first half hour.
APIA blew their opposition away in the first half, with Murray’s hat trick giving the competition’s top side a comfortable lead by the 30 minute mark.
Tasuku Sekiya added two while Chris Payne pulled Sydney United back within three goals with a brace of his own, before Murray finally rounded out the scoring with the last kick of the game.
APIA go into the final two rounds in pole position at the top of the competition ladder but Sydney Olympic remain in striking distance, level on points and in second only due to their inferior goal