The National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition is in full flight after four weeks and it’s going to heat up even more this weekend when Round 5 kicks-off on Saturday night.
Wollongong Wolves have had an electric start to the season and sit at the top of the pile with three wins and a draw from their first four games.
The round gets under way on Saturday with two matches as Sutherland Sharks host Sydney United 58 while Sydney FC go west to take on Mount Druitt at Popondetta Park.
Sunday will feature four big matches including a grudge match between APIA Leichhardt Tigers and Rockdale City Suns.
Other matches on Sunday include Manly’s clash against Blacktown City, Sydney Olympic taking on Wollongong while Marconi Stallions’ game against Hakoah Sydney City East closes out the Round 5 action.
Sutherland Sharks v Sydney United 58, 6.30pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw
Three losses from their first four games is not the way Sutherland Sharks would’ve wanted to start their season but they will have a chance to make amends when they host Sydney United 58 at Seymour Shaw on Saturday.
A narrow 1-0 loss to Blacktown City in round four was another painful defeat for the Terry Palapanis coached side.
Despite their poor results, Sutherland have shown plenty of potential and should’ve come away with much more from their past three matches.
Against Blacktown City last Sunday, new recruit Caoimhin Fowler and Lachlan Everett stole the show and were unlucky not to find the back of the net with their attacking displays.
Momentary lapses have proved costly for the Sharks and if they can keep it together will be a good chance of snapping their losing streak.
United 58 come into the game off the back of defeat as well with the Reds suffering a 3-1 loss to APIA Leichhardt Tigers last week.
It was their first defeat of the season as they were undone by their former star striker, now playing for APIA, Chris Payne.
Injuries to Petar Markovic and Patrick Antelmi will give coach Miro Vlastelica plenty to ponder going into this weekend’s match.
The Reds are hoping that their Uruguayan star Sebastián Gallegos could be ready to go this Saturday after an injury lay-off in pre-season.
United 58 will be the favourites for this clash but Sutherland have the players to cause an upset as they did so against 2018 Premiers and Champions Sydney Olympic in round 1.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Sydney FC, 7pm Saturday at Popondetta Park
Mount Druitt Town Rangers will be pushed to their limits on Saturday night as they kit up for their third game in seven days when they take on Sydney FC at Popondetta Park.
The competition new boys have made a good showing of their time in the NSW top flight and will be a contended for finals football if they keep up their early season form.
Coach Aidan Desmond will need to find a way to get the most from his fatigued players in a match the club will view as a must win contest.
Cooper Coskerie had a breakout performance in the Rangers win against Rockdale City Suns last weekend, scoring the match winning goal in a brilliant showing for Mount Druitt.
Coskerie has shown he can be a dangerous customer in attack and Desmond may call on him more and more as the season progresses.
Goalkeeper Carlos Saliadarre’s name has earned plenty of column inches since the start of the season with the experienced shot stopper making an inspired return to the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition.
Expect another big week from the former Blacktown Spartans keeper.
Their opponents Sydney FC come into the game on the back of a 4-3 defeat at the hands of league leaders Wollongong Wolves.
While the Young Sky Blues conceded four goals, coach Jimmy van Weeren will be pleased with how his side played until the final whistle to nearly snatch a point.
While the excitement of their round one win against Hakoah has worn off, Sydney FC haven’t completely fallen away despite the results not going their way in the preceding three matches.
Marco Tilio and Jordan Swibel have proven to be a reliable option in attack and will again be expected to lead the charge.
Neither side go into the match as outright favourites but Mount Druitt as the home team might hold the upper hand.
Either way it is sure to be an exciting contest.
Manly United FC v Blacktown City FC, 3pm Sunday at Cromer Park
Back to back wins will be the goal for Manly United when they host Blacktown City at Cromer Park this Sunday.
Buoyed by their last minute win against Marconi last week, the boys from the Northern Beaches will be full of confidence as they take on a City outfit still finding its feet after an off season roster overhaul.
It’s been a mixed start to the season for Manly but they’ve shown plenty of promise and have only lost one game from their opening four.
Coach Paul Dee will want more consistency from his troops as well as improved composure on match day.
Defender Travis Oughtred was a rock at the back against the Stallions and a similar performance will be needed to stop Blacktown.
In attack Manly boast plenty of options with the return of Dejan Pandurevic and Adam Parkhouse, as well as the signing of Charles Mendy, giving the team multiple ways to sting their opponent.
The ever elusive Brendan Cholakian has also been a menace for Manly in the front third and he will be in and amongst all the action on Saturday.
Their opponents Blacktown City will be up for this match and determined to keep their winning form alive.
While resilience and a little bit of luck was the secret to their narrow 1-0 win against Sutherland Sharks last week, Blacktown has shown their roster overhaul has not seen them drop their standards on the pitch.
Leroy Jennings has been a shrewd acquisition for the Seven Hills based side while club veterans Matt Lewis, Grant Lynch and Joey Gibbs continue to perform.
Both teams have the players to turn the game into a shootout so goals could be on the menu in Manly this Sunday.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Rockdale City Suns, 3.30pm Sunday at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt Tigers will be looking to add to the misery of a struggling Rockdale City Suns team when the two sides face off at Lambert Park on Sunday.
The Tigers claimed a huge statement victory last round with a 3-1 triumph against Sydney United 58 thanks to a masterclass from star signing Chris Payne who netted a hat-trick against his former club.
Sunday’s performance was APIA’s best so far this year and a big statement of intent from last season’s Waratah Cup winners.
Payne showed yet again why he has been so successful in this competition and will be salivating at the chance of taking on a defence low on confidence after two sapping defeats.
Coach John Calleja could have some tough selection decisions to make with Paul Galimi excelling at centre back against United 58 in place of usual starter Josh Symons who was on the bench.
Young midfielder Sam McIllhatton has also been a handy player for APIA off the bench and he will also be pushing for a starting berth.
The club will also unearth a new weapon in former Kiwi International Andre De Jong. The ace attacker was one of Hakoah Sydney City East’s finest stars and he will certainly add more spark to what is a pretty strong attack.
Rockdale on the other hand have had a horror fortnight and come into the match after two heartbreaking losses to Hakoah Sydney City East and Mount Druitt Town Rangers.
The most frustrating thing for Paul Reid and his team has been that they have dominated both matches and should’ve claimed big wins if they were able to make the most of their plethora of chances.
Jordan Figon made a return to the starting line-up to replace Jonathan Grozdanovski last week but he too struggled to find the score sheet.
Star siging Panny Nikas missed last week with injury and Rockdale will be hoping he can make a speedy return – however early prognosis has hinted that he may be spending a weeks on the sidelines.
Reid will be desperate to find the answer to his side’s struggles but a grudge match against a high flying APIA won’t give him much room for error.
Rockdale will need to get out of their funk fast if they’re to take home any points from this encounter especially with a fired up APIA looking stronger by the week.
Sydney Olympic FC v Wollongong Wolves, 4pm Sunday at Belmore Sports Ground
It’s not been Sydney Olympic’s best start to a season and the reigning Premiers will have a point to prove when they host league leaders Wollongong Wolves at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday
Olympic finally clinched their first win of the campaign last week in a dour and physical encounter against Hakoah Sydney City East.
Against The Wolves they will need to bring even more with the pressure on star Spanish striker Alex Sanchez to rediscover the goal scoring prowess which saw him take the league by storm last season.
Jinya An and Nikola Kuleski will be hoping to make a return to the Olympic starting side after performing well coming off the bench last week.
The Wolves come into the contest off the back of their third win in four games as they remain undefeated to start the season.
However, it’s not all sunny for Wollongong who nearly blew a 4-1 lead last week before clinging on to a 4-3 victory against Sydney FC.
They will be without coach Luke Wilkshire for this clash after he was shown a red card for a tirade against the match officials.
Thomas James has been the star performer for the Wolves and he will need to continue carrying the attack especially against a disciplined Olympic back line.
It will be a blockbuster clash and a brilliant chance for either side to prove their title credentials.
Marconi Stallions v Hakoah Sydney City East, 7pm Sunday at Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions will be looking to bounce back from last week’s dramatic late defeat to Manly United when they host Hakoah Sydney City East at Marconi Stadium on Sunday.
The Stallions would’ve thought they were on track for a 1-1 draw against Manly before conceding a penalty deep into added time. Brendan Cholakian duly converted the spot kick and condemned Marconi to their second loss of the campaign.
While they may boast one of the most star studded line-up on paper, Marconi has been unable to convert that into results.
Coach Peter Tsekenis will be asking much more from his sides big name signings.
They will be without Nathan Millgate for this weekends match after he was sent off against Manly for dissent.
Hakoah were given a bit of a reality check last week against Sydney Olympic after winning their previous two matches.
Goalkeeper Ryan Norval has been an incredible addition to the Eastern Suburbs side this season with his performances between the sticks a big part of Hakoah’s success.
Amaury Gauthier has been another bright spot for Hakoah with the striker in fine fettle.
Gavin Rae’s side have shown so far this season that they like to sit deep and pounce on the counter attack.
Their dogged defence is hard to break down and for the most part they have taken advantage of the few chances which have come their way in attack.
Expect much more of the same against the Stallions.
Marconi’s star power filled line-up should, on paper, beat any team in the competition.
But, football isn’t played on paper and Hakoah could very easily cause an upset if the Stallions don’t play to their full potential.