Blacktown City still lead the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s heading into Round 8, but Sydney Olympic could take first place on Anzac Day should they beat APIA Leichhardt at Belmore Sports Ground.
The competition leaders, meanwhile, take on third-placed Rockdale City Suns on Sunday afternoon, while Sydney FC and Sydney United 58 face off at Lambert Park on Saturday.
Match of the Round: Sydney Olympic v APIA Leichhardt FC, 2.30pm Thursday at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic host APIA Leichhardt on Anzac Day as they look to keep pace with competition leaders Blacktown City, who sit two points in front of the side from Belmore heading into Round 8.
A 3-1 defeat of Manly United last weekend put Olympic back on track after a heavy 3-0 loss to Rockdale the week before. Olympic could move top – at least temporarily – should they beat APIA on Thursday.
The Tigers are fresh from a narrow home defeat to Blacktown last weekend but put in a promising performance in spite of the result, and are well-placed to surprise their hosts this week. APIA sit fifth, level on points with Mt Druitt above them and Sutherland Sharks below.
Sydney FC v Sydney United 58, 11am at Lambert Park
Sydney FC are without a win since the end of March, and slipped a place in the table to eighth after their 1-1 draw away to Rockdale City Suns in Round 7 – their fourth draw of the season to date.
They will welcome a return to Lambert Park this week where they host Sydney United 58, who arrive as the second-lowest team on the ladder after a 3-1 loss to Mt Druitt Town Rangers last weekend.
United picked up their first points of the season in Rounds 5 and 6 but last week’s defeat – their fifth of 2019 – can hardly give them much confidence as they head to Leichhardt for a clash with Sydney FC.
Sutherland Sharks v Wollongong Wolves, 4.30pm at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland picked up a 2-0 win at Marconi Stallions last Saturday, their second win in as many weeks. James Temelkovski and Thomas Papa took the Sharks across the line, and up into fifth place ahead of their Round 8 clash with Wollongong Wolves.
Wollongong travel to Seymour Shaw on the back of a hard-earned victory at Hakoah Sydney City East, where Bul Juach, Brandon Stojcevski and Jordan Nikolovski pitched in to give the Wolves a 3-1 win.
They will need to be on their game again this week when they take on a Sutherland side looking to surge up the ladder after finally finding form.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Marconi Stallions, 5pm at Popondetta Park
Mt Druitt Town Rangers sit fourth heading into their Round 8 match against Marconi Stallions, with last week’s defeat of Sydney United 58 helping them to hold their place behind the leaders.
The Rangers will be keen to back up their 3-1 win at Sydney United Sports Centre with a similar result this Saturday.
They face a Marconi side fighting to move away from the foot of the ladder: the Stallions have just five points from their first six games, and were dealt a second consecutive defeat when they lost 2-0 to Sutherland Sharks in Round 7.
With games against Sydney Olympic and Blacktown City to follow their match against Mt Druitt, Marconi will be desperate to get a result at Popondetta.
Manly United v Hakoah Sydney City East, 1pm at Cromer Park
Maximilian Rogers gave Manly United a first-half lead at Sydney Olympic last week, but the visitors were unable to maintain their level after the break and were beaten 3-1 at Belmore Sports Ground in Round 7.
Manly return to Cromer Park in search of their first win since they edged Mt Druitt in Round 3. This week, they take on Hakoah Sydney City East, who would appear a less challenging opposition than that faced last week.
Hakoah lost 3-1 to Wollongong Wolves in Round 7; their fourth defeat of a season in which they’re yet to win a match. Despite a disappointing start to 2019, they could still overtake Manly should they win at Cromer Park on Sunday afternoon.
Blacktown City FC v Rockdale City Suns, 1pm at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City take on third-placed Rockdale City Suns on Sunday afternoon, with the visitors eager to avoid falling further behind the competition leaders.
A 1-0 win over APIA Leichhardt Tigers in Round 7 helped Blacktown hold their two-point lead over Sydney Olympic, and five-point lead over Rockdale below them.
Rockdale drew 1-1 with Sydney FC last weekend; Jake Trajkovski scoring the only goal for his side. Rockdale have struggled for consistency in recent weeks, and can’t afford to have a poor game at Lilys on Sunday afternoon.
-By Max Grieve