Blacktown City can’t be caught at the top of the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s, but there are plenty of teams snapping at their heels as the competition heads into Round 9.
The leaders will look to bounce back from a draw last weekend when they take on Wollongong Wolves at Win Stadium, while APIA and Olympic face Sydney FC and Marconi Stallions respectively as they look to put pressure on the team currently sitting in first place.
Match of the Round: Sydney FC v APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 5pm Saturday at Lambert Park
Tyson Savas scored a hattrick at Lambert Park last weekend to keep Sydney FC in eighth place ahead of Round 9, with Callum Talbot adding to the scoresheet to round out a 4-2 comeback win over Sydney United 58.
This week they take on APIA Leichhardt; the Tigers returning home after a 2-0 win over Sydney Olympic in Round 8. Goals from Michael Trajkovski and Lachlan Hughes helped APIA over the line, and up into third place on the ladder.
APIA could move second if Sydney Olympic drop points at Marconi, while Sydney FC will be looking to string together successive wins for the first time this season.
Marconi Stallions v Sydney Olympic, 5pm at Marconi Stadium
Marconi blew past Mt Druitt in Round 8; putting four past the Rangers at Popondetta Park last weekend to edge up into ninth place ahead of a make-up game against Manly United mid-week.
The Stallions were on the opposite end of a hiding against Manly United, and went down 4-1 as they dropped back to tenth.
This week Marconi return home to face Sydney Olympic, who will be looking to regain their foothold in the race for first after losing 2-0 at home to APIA Leichhardt last weekend.
Olympic have struggled for consistency through April: with only two wins in the past month, they sit three points behind competition leaders Blacktown City ahead of their match at Marconi Stadium.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Sutherland Sharks, 5pm at Popondetta Park
Mt Druitt had been soaring through April until they were brought crashing back down to earth by a rampant Marconi Stallions in Round 8.
The Rangers were on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline last week, but will have a chance to redeem themselves when they take on Sutherland Sharks at Popondetta on Saturday afternoon.
Sutherland were beaten 2-1 by Wollongong Wolves last weekend, with a goal from James Temelkovski not enough to stop the Sharks dropping into seventh place.
Both sides come into this match level on eleven points, with a single goal splitting the two on goal difference.
Wollongong Wolves v Blacktown City FC, 1pm at Win Stadium
Wollongong Wolves will face their toughest test of the season to date when they take Blacktown City at Win Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with both sides in good form ahead of what promises to be a tight match.
Wolves have bounced back after a dismal run to win their last two matches; the latest victory coming at Sutherland Sharks courtesy of goals from Bul Juach and Liam Wille.
Blacktown, meanwhile, travel to Win Stadium having dropped points for only the second time this season. A 1-1 draw with Rockdale halted a four-match winning streak, but will do little to dent the confidence of the competition leaders.
Rockdale City Suns v Manly United, 2.30pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns held Blacktown City to an impressive draw at Lily Homes Stadium last Sunday, with Noah Botic getting his name on the scoresheet to keep the competition leaders from opening up a five-point gap at the top of the table.
Rockdale are fourth ahead of their match against Manly United this weekend, and will be keen to keep a four-match unbeaten streak rolling as they look to make up ground on Blacktown.
Manly United, for their part, travel to Ilinden Sports Centre on the back of a 4-1 win over Marconi Stallions mid-week, a stunning result which helped lift them away from the foot of the table, and up into ninth place.
Sydney United 58 v Hakoah Sydney City East, 3pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 scored twice in the first half in their match against Sydney FC last weekend, but left Lambert Park empty-handed after conceding four goals in the second half to go down 4-2.
United are bottom of the table, but could move up a place into eleventh should they manage to win their Round 9 match at home to Hakoah Sydney City East.
Hakoah sit above Sydney United on goal difference, with a further three points up to Manly United in tenth.
Nathan Roberts and Hesan Soufi helped Hakoah to a 2-2 draw at Manly United last weekend giving them their fourth point of the season.
-By Max Grieve