Round 10 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition has arrived with six more thrilling match-ups set to take place this weekend.
The 2019 season is nearly at the mid way point with consistent results vital to securing finals football in August.
Wollongong Wolves come into this next week of fixtures on top of the table and have been there since round one.
They face off against a resurgent Rockdale side this week in the opening clash of the round on Saturday.
Second placed APIA Leichhardt take on finals challengers Manly United in a game which is sure to feature plenty of end to end action.
One of the most captivating games of Round 9 will be Blacktown City hosting Marconi Stallions on Sunday.
There is plenty of feeling between these two sides since the mass defection of Blacktown’s stars to join Marconi in the off season.
Closing out the weekend is another derby clash as traditional rivals Sydney United 58 go up against Sydney Olympic.
Wollongong Wolves v Rockdale City Suns, 6pm Saturday at WIN Stadium
Wollongong Wolves will be out to continue their near flawless season when they host a resurgent Rockdale City Suns at WIN Stadium on Saturday.
Wollongong have gone from strength to strength this season under new coach Luke Wilkshire and it was none more evident than last week’s emphatic 4-0 thrashing of Blacktown City.
The Wolves have been in first spot on the table since week one and now have a four point lead over second placed APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
While overall performance and team chemistry have helped Wollongong reach new heights this season, the contribution of league best goalscorer Thomas James can’t be overlooked.
James added another two goals to his tally against Blacktown and has been in such good form he is seemingly odds on to find the back of the net in every match he plays. His goal scoring efforts have caught the attention of A-League scouts who are sure to snare the star attacker should he continue his goalscoring spree.
Along with attack the club has also been healthy in defence led by experienced keeper Justin Pasfield and the defensive stars such as Nick Littler, Taylor McDonald and Nikola Djordjevic.
Wilkshire’s side have been very lucky in the injury stakes so far this campaign with the former Socceroos star able to name an almost unchanged side each week.
Their opponents Rockdale come into this match on a massive upswing in form winning six of their last six games including four straight league matches.
It was a very different story for the Suns only a month ago with coach Paul Reid sacked after a run of horror results and an injury toll which had sidelined a number of the clubs biggest stars.
Interim coach Nick Porecca has helped Rockdale’s players rediscover their confidence and make the most of their abilities on the park as they did in last round’s comeback 2-1 win against Manly United.
Panny Nikas made his long awaited return to the team against Manly with a cameo appearance off the bench while Jordan Figon scored his first goal of the season after a difficult start to the campaign.
Alec Urosevski also made a return to the starting lineup after being eased back into the team following a chronic groin injury.
Veteran defenders Brayden Sorge and Trent McClenehan remain two big names who are still sidelined but are edging closer to a return.
Wollongong has always been a tough road trip and the Wolves form will only make this away match tougher than ever for Rockdale.
Expect a tough game between two teams who are sure to be a fixture come finals time.
Sutherland Sharks v Sydney FC, 6.30pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks will have a chance to fight their way off the bottom of the ladder when they host Sydney FC at Seymour Shaw on Saturday.
It has been eight games without a win for a Sutherland team struggling to find form.
Back to back draws have been a sign of improvement for the Terry Palapanis coached side but they still have a long way to go if they’re to be anything more than the league’s whipping boys.
One player that may make his Sharks debut is big tall attacker Charles Lokolingoy. Ironically Charles played for Sydney FC as well as the Brisbane Roar in the A-League before being snapped up by the Shire team – his return to Seymour Shaw, an ex-player of the Sharks, may spark up a much needed revival for Palapanis and co.
Their opponents Sydney FC have had their own flashes of brilliance this season but not enough to lift them out of the bottom half of the table.
The Young Sky Blues sit only one point ahead of last placed Sutherland and could drop to the bottom of the pile with a loss on Saturday.
It has been a mixed campaign for Jim van Weeren and his team of future stars with their ability to perform for the full 90 minutes costing them on a number of occasions.
Benjamin Koop earned himself a call-up last round after striker Jordan Swibel suffered an injury against Sydney United 58 in Round 8.
Koop managed to snatch a late goal for Sydney after coming off the bench and may have done enough to earn my time on the paddock this week.
It’s an evenly matched clash with both sides in with a shot of taking home a vital three points.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Manly United, 7pm Saturday at Lambert Park
Back to back wins will be the goal for APIA Leichhardt Tigers when they host Manly United at Lambert Park on Saturday.
A Chris Payne double helped APIA return to winning ways with a comprehensive victory against Sydney FC last week and they’ll be out to repeat the formula when they go up against Manly in round 9.
The second placed Tigers took only two points from a possible nine during a difficult three game stretch including a morale sapping 3-1 loss in the grand final rematch against Sydney Olympic.
Payne remains APIA’s primary threat in front of goal with the veteran striker in fine fettle since making the move from Sydney United 58 in the offseason.
Coach John Calleja blooded some of his younger players last round giving game time to Nicholas Azzone, Camil Abouchaaya, Dom Nasrabadi, Sam Gulisano and Lachlan Hughes with regular starters Corey Biczo, Themba Muata-Marlow, Paul Galimi and Andre de Jong absent from the match day squad.
Expect Calleja to recall his regulars back to the starting line-up against Manly.
Manly come into this match on the back of a 2-1 defeat at Rockdale and will be hoping to fight their way back into the top five after dropping down the ladder following their loss.
Paul Dee’s team have been solid this campaign but have failed to truly hit their straps over the opening nine weeks.
Brendan Cholakian remains an absolute game changer for Manly as was the case against the Suns when he scored a sublime long range strike.
Expect few changes to the Manly side from last round for this clash with the only likely addition being pacy striker Charles Mendy who missed the trip to Ilinden Sports Centre in Round 9.
Manly have the firepower and talent to push APIA all the way but the Tigers remain favourites at home.
It is sure to be a captivating match-up.
Blacktown City v Marconi Stallions, 3pm Sunday at Lily Homes Stadium
There is sure to be no love lost on Sunday when Blacktown City take on Marconi Stallions at Lily Homes Stadium.
Blacktown City has plenty of ill-feeling towards the stallions after a mass player exodus from the Seven Hills based side following a brazen off-season signing swoop from Marconi saw City’s biggest names all make the move.
It has created plenty of bad blood between the two teams and it will be interesting to see how that manifest on the park in round 10.
As a result of the major off-season turnover of players at Blacktown, the Mark Crittenden coached side has looked very different from the team which dominated the NPL NSW competition for the past five seasons.
That was none more evident than their 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Wollongong Wolves last round.
Before last week’s capitulation, Blacktown have actually been quite solid defensively conceding only eight goals in as many matches.
That record has made up for their significant struggles in front of goal with Blacktown possessing the leagues worst attack in terms of goals scored.
Crittenden’s side has failed to score in their last two matches and have only found the back of the net seven times all season.
Veteran striker Joey Gibbs has struggled without the service of his former teammates Mitch Mallia, Connor Evans and James Andrew who all now call Marconi home.
The Stallions had a tentative first few weeks to the competition before exploding into form over the last month.
Mirijan Pavlovic and Marko Jesic have been in impressive goalscoring form while Mallia and fellow Stallions signing Anthony Frangie are also starting to hit their straps at their new club.
It will be interesting to see if the emotion of the contest gets the better of Blacktown or if it lifts them to their best performance of the campaign.
Nevertheless it is sure to be the can’t miss match of the round.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Mt Druitt Town Rangers, 5pm Sunday at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East will be out to end their six game winless run when they host Mt Druitt Town Rangers at Hensley Athletic Field on Sunday.
It’s been a frustrating slide for Hakoah who at one point this season were as high as second spot on the ladder.
They come into this clash in ninth position with only two wins from their nine matches.
Goals have been the biggest weakness for Hakoah who have found the back of the net only once in the past five weeks and are tied for the league worst attack scoring only seven goals so far this campaign.
Amaury Gauthier’s return to the starting line-up has failed to ignite the Gavin Rae coached side in attack while back up striker Hristijan Tanoski has also struggled when called on.
Winger Shohei Okuna has shown flashes of brilliance but not enough to fix his teams scoring troubles.
Defensively Hakoah has remained difficult to breakdown but without goals they could be destined to find themselves in a battle for the wooden spoon.
Their opponents Mt Druitt Town Rangers have slowly picked up the pace but are in need of a victory.
The Rangers spurned a perfect chance to climb away from the bottom of the ladder last week when they were held 1-1 by the struggling Sutherland Sharks who have not won in eight weeks.
It was a third straight draw for Mt Druitt and coach Aidan Desmond will be pushing his players to claim a much needed win.
The pressure will be on experienced players Toufic Alameddine and club stalwart Matthew Clowes to get the competition new boys over the line.
One player that could prove to be the difference for the Rangers is Uruguayan ace Fabricio Fernandez. The attacker has been in outstanding form for Mount Druitt since his arrival and has added a couple of quality goals to his highlights reel already – Desmond is hoping he can add a few more against at Hensley.
Sydney United 58 v Sydney Olympic, 5pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
What a way to finish round 10 of the NPL NSW Men’s competition with a heavyweight clash seeing Sydney United 58 renewing their traditional rivalry with Sydney Olympic when the two sides face off at Sydney United Sports Centre.
United 58 will have a chance to move into second spot on the ladder with a win after a brilliant return to form in recent weeks after their shock 5-0 loss to Marconi.
Matthew Bilic’s return to the team over the past few rounds paid dividends for coach Miro Vlastelica with the young full-back scoring the winner against Hakoah last week.
Tricky midfield maestro Glen Trifiro was in a league of his own last Sunday as he danced and weaved through Hakoah defenders with ease – something he is hoping to do against the Blues.
Sebastian Gallegos has also warmed into his role in midfield since his comeback from injury as has Peter Simonoski in attack – the former Wolf always finds himself at the right place and the right time and his darting runs are something to look out for on Sunday.
Their opponents Sydney Olympic are finally hitting their straps and have shot up the table after a run of wins.
The reigning Championship and Premiership winners are now in fifth position and will be determined to further their title challenge.
Just like he did last season, Alejandro Sanchez has been a leading light for Abbas Saad’s side and his eye for goal is as good as ever with the Spaniard scoring twice last week as Olympic defeated Marconi 3-1.
Skipper Jason Madonis has added steel to Olympic’s midfield while the back-line has been steered well courtesy of experienced keeper Paul Henderson.
Saad has made few changes to his team since they’ve gone on their winning run and expect it to stay that way ahead of Sunday’s match.
There is always plenty of feeling in matches between these two sides and this clash is unlikely to be any different.