The 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s ladder is slowly stretching as some teams look to stake their claim to the finals places and others find themselves struggling at the bottom.
Blacktown City travel to Manly United as they look to hold their place at the top of the table, while Sydney Olympic will be aiming to keep place with the leaders when they host Wollongong Wolves on Sunday afternoon. At the other end of the ladder, Marconi Stallions and Hakoah Sydney City East will each be hoping for a win to move them out of eleventh and twelfth place respectively.
Match of the round: Sutherland Sharks FC v Sydney United 58, Saturday 4.30pm at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks have started the 2019 season slowly and will be desperate to make up lost ground when they host Sydney United 58 on Saturday afternoon.
Sharks lost 3-0 at Lily Homes Stadium last weekend to leave them with four points from four games, and in eighth position.
A match at home against Sydney United surely represents an opportunity to get their season properly underway; the visitors sitting tenth ahead of their this weekend’s game at Seymour Shaw.
Sydney United won their first match of the season against APIA Leichhardt Tigers in Round 4, and will be hopeful of another solid away result when they take on Sutherland. In any case, they will surely be keen to make up for a 2-0 defeat to Sharks in last year’s semi finals.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Sydney FC, 5pm at Popondetta Park
Mt Druitt return to Popondetta after a stunning 5-1 win over Rockdale City Suns in Round 4, and may feel confident of managing a similar result – if not the same scoreline – when they take on Sydney FC this weekend.
The Rangers still sit ninth after losing their first two games of the year, but have a game in hand and will see this match as chance to build some momentum heading into the middle of the season.
Sydney FC travel to Popondetta in sixth place, with five points from their four games. They will be out to prove their Round 4 result – a 4-0 win over Wollongong Wolves – was no fluke.
Manly United v Blacktown City, 1pm at Cromer Park
Manly United are in a promising position heading into their Round 5 clash with Blacktown City at Cromer Park on Sunday.
The hosts are tracking fourth with a game in hand against Marconi after a washout last weekend, but face a real test of their credentials when they take on Blacktown City in Round 5.
Blacktown are top after the first four rounds of fixtures, having dropped just one game for nine points. They continued a solid run of form with a 3-0 defeat of Sutherland Sharks last weekend, and will be determined to put in another good performance here to avoid slipping behind Sydney Olympic.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Rockdale City Suns, 1.15pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt Tigers will be looking to bounce back against Rockdale City Suns this weekend following a disappointing loss to Sydney United in Round 4.
The Tigers have four points from three games in 2019 to date, and sit seventh with a game to make up against Wollongong.
This weekend they host Rockdale at Lambert Park; the Suns no doubt still stinging after a crushing defeat at home to Mt Druitt last week. Still, the visitors remain third with a game in hand, and could begin to consolidate their spot in the top-half of the table with a win here.
Sydney Olympic v Wollongong Wolves, 1.45pm at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic are in second place after the first month of fixtures, and have a game in hand against Mt Druitt. With three wins from their first three matches, they could well move above Blacktown City depending on results elsewhere in Round 5.
Olympic’s latest victory came away at Hakoah Sydney City East, where they won by the odd goal in five.
Wollongong, meanwhile, were beaten 4-0 by Sydney FC at Lambert Park, though remain fifth after winning their first two matches.
Fittingly for a match so evenly poised, these sides drew 1-1 when they met here last season.
Marconi Stallions v Hakoah Sydney City East, 5pm at Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions and Hakoah Sydney City East will both be desperate for a result when they meet at Marconi Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with each having picked up only one point in 2019 to date.
In Marconi’s case, a slow start can perhaps be attributed by a heavily interrupted March. The Stallions’ match last week was washed out, meaning they have still only played two matches so far.
Hakoah, meanwhile, have a markedly more dismal record, having played four games for their solitary point. Last weekend they were dealt a 3-2 defeat by Sydney Olympic, with a Round 1 draw against Sydney FC their only result of the season.
-By Max Grieve