Round 13 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition has arrived and another six blockbuster matches are on the menu.
Wollongong Wolves have served up a near perfect season so far and will be out to make it 13 weeks on top of the table when they host second placed APIA Leichhardt this week
The Tigers will be hungry to knock their South Coast rivals from their perch in what is the biggest match of the round.
However, fans won’t be battling for scraps across the weekend’s other games with a football feast on offer including grudge matches between Marconi Stallions and Rockdale City Suns as well as Sydney United 58 and Blacktown City.
Sydney FC v Manly United FC, Saturday 1pm at Lambert Park.
Three wins on the trot will be the goal for Sydney FC this weekend when the host Manly United FC at Lambert Park on Saturday afternoon.
Hard fought wins against Sydney Olympic and Hakoah Sydney City East has the confidence brimming over for the Young Sky Blues.
And with the pressures of the club’s A-League and Asian Champions League commitments done, NPL team coach Jimmy van Weeren will have a near full strength side at his disposal once again.
Luke Ivanovic and Joel King’s return has given Sydney FC a boost while goalkeeper Thomas Heward-Belle is doing his chances of a full-time A-League call up no harm thanks to a run of incredible performances between the sticks.
Hamish Lamberton and Jerry Skotadis are another two who have been key players in recent weeks as Sydney has lifted themselves from the bottom of the ladder to only two games outside finals football.
However, this week they will need to do so without defender Liam McGing who has made the move to Sutherland Sharks. It will force a reshuffle at the back for van Weeren.
Their opponents Manly United will be desperate to bounce back after going down 4-0 at the hands of league leaders Wollongong on Sunday.
Manly has struggled for consistency this season an appeared to be on the right track before last week’s heartbreaking defeat.
Expect a bit of a reshuffle from coach Paul Dee as he attempts to tighten his defence as well as get the most out of his extremely talented but under performing front line.
Wollongong Wolves v APIA Leichhardt Tigers, Saturday 6pm at WIN Stadium
Top spot goes on the line as league leaders Wollongong Wolves play host to second placed APIA Leichhardt Tigers at WIN Stadium on Saturday night.
It is building to be a real clash of the titans with this fixture likely set to play a big part in deciding who claims the Premiership.
Wollongong come into the game firing on all cylinders after dismantling Manly United 4-0 last week and Marconi Stallions 3-1 in Round 11.
It has been the perfect return to form for the Luke Wilkshire coached team after they suffered their first defat of the campaign in Round 10 against Rockdale.
Thomas James remains the primary threat to opposition defences with the UK born striker going from strength to strength after yet another Team of the Week selection.
Former Western Sydney Wanderers front man Lachlan Scott has proven to be the perfect foil for James and was on the scoresheet last week against Manly.
Hoping to stop Wollongong’s free-scoring attack will be an APIA side which has seemingly overcome their own mid season struggles.
A 4-2 win against Marconi last week was the perfect tonic for the Tigers coming into this weekend’s blockbuster clash.
Squad depth has proven to be a major curse for APIA coach John Calleja this campaign and while he has a full contingent of fit players to pick from expect the side to do well.
However, injuries took their toll earlier in the campaign and could do so again if the club doesn’t bolster their stocks.
Backup keeper Blake Tuxford departed the club during the week so expect to see usual starter Ivan Necevski to feature once again in the line-up.
Franco Parisi has wound back the years this season after returning to a more prominent role under Calleja. His experience will be vital in helping the Tigers in such a big match.
Also keep an eye out for in form winger Corey Biczo who has been a key performer all season for the club.
Wollongong will be the favourites at home but with so much on the line the form could very easily go out the window.
Sydney Olympic v Mt Druitt Town Rangers, Saturday 4pm at Belmore Sports Ground
A clash against fellow strugglers Mt Druitt Town Rangers could be just what the doctor ordered for Sydney Olympic when the two sides face off at Belmore Sports Ground on Saturday
Olympic slumped to their worst defeat of the year last round as Sutherland Sharks ended their ten match winless streak with a 3-0 victory against the reigning champions.
Star striker Alex Sanchez has lacked the service he had last season following the departure of Max Burgess, with the rest of the Olympic attack also unable to find their way.
Expect plenty of changes this week as Abbas Saad looks to re-ignite his struggling troops.
Its been a similar story out west with Mt Druitt also doing it tough after a 4-1 loss to local rivals Blacktown City last round.
The Rangers have the worst defence in the league and will need to focus all their attention on fixing that if they are to turn their campaign around.
One bright spark has been Uruguayan import Fabricio Fernandez who has been able to provide his teammates plenty of chances as he operates out of his preferred attacking midfield position.
New signing John Roberts looked good early on against Blacktown but faded late. With more time to train with his new teammates expect the former Wanderers NYL star to have a bigger impact on matches for Mt Druitt.
Rockdale City Suns v Marconi Stallions, Sunday 4.30pm at Ilinden Sports Centre.
Rockdale CIty Suns will be determined to return to winning ways when they host Marconi Stallions at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday.
The Suns had their unbeaten run stopped last round thanks to a last minute Sydney United 58 winner which was sure to rankle the club and it’s players.
They will be driven to make up for that defeat against the struggling Stallions and get back in the race for the premiership.
Interim coach Nick Porecca has had success with a similar line-up in since taking the reigns in round six and expect that to continue.
Panny Nikas was absent yet again for Rockdale against United with Alec Urosevski left to do most of the heavy lifting for the Suns.
Urosevski remains Rockdale’s most important player and will once again be a good chance of finding his name on the score sheet.
Their opponents Marconi come into this match searching for answers after yet another big defeat.
The Stallions have slumped to eighth on the ladder and out of the finals spots because of their recent poor form.
Coach Peter Tsekenis is sure to put the pressure on his high profile stars to lift the team now that they need it most.
Marko Jesic has been somewhat of a Jekyll and Hyde for Marconi of late with the talented striker trading moments of brilliance with moments of madness in each of his last two matches.
Rockdale will head to Marconi Stadium as favourites but Marconi’s squad of stars makes them a side you can never really write off.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Sutherland Sharks, Sunday 5pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East are desperate for a win and will be hoping to claim all three points when they host a resurgent Sutherland Sharks on Sunday.
Hakoah is anchored to the bottom of the league table after yet another tough loss last week but will be hoping the injection of former A-League defender Pedj Bojic can be answer to their woes.
Bojic made a solid debut last round earning himself Team of the Week honours.
Coach Gavin Rae is sure to be buoyed by the ex-Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners man’s performance.
Goals however remain Hakoah’s biggest struggles and it is in that department the club still has plenty of work to do if they are to climb off the bottom of the competition.
Shohei Okuna and Amaury Gauthier have been Hakoah’s best so far upfront and expect Rae to persist with them going forward.
Their opponents Sutherland Sharks come into the match with a new lease on life after ending their incredible 10 week winless streak.
With veteran goalkeeper Nathan Denham back between the sticks and new signing Charles Lokolingoy finding his way, expect more good things to come from the Sharks.
Coach Terry Palapanis has added to his defensive stocks this week signing Sydney FC centre back Liam McGing.
Hakoah took the points when these two sides met back in round two so this match could go either way.
Sydney United 58 v Blacktown City FC, 5pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
Third spot goes on the line on Sunday as Sydney United 58 take on Blacktown City at Sydney United Sports Centre.
An incredible last minute winner from Patrick Antelmi helped United 58 snatch a 3-2 victory against rivals Rockdale City Suns last week.
The Reds raced out of the blocks last week and another fast start would put them in good stead for another valuable three points.
The trio of Matt Sim, Peter Simonoski and Glen Trifiro has been an effective attacking rotation for the club.
This week United 58 emotionally farewelled warrior midfielder Nick Stavroulakis which opens up more opportunities in midfield for the side’s young players.
It will be interesting to see how coach Miro Vlastelica manages his squad in the run home.
Their opponents this week is a Blacktown City side which have seemingly rediscovered their eye for goal.
The second worst attack in the league until last round. Blacktown scored four against Mt Druitt as they finally broke free of the shackles which had been holding them back.
Enmanuel Gonzalez was a top performer for Blacktown as was Grant Lynch in defence.
Substitue Rhett Desilva made his mark with a stunning long range strike and explosive play through midfield.
It is sure to give coach Mark Crittenden consideration whenever to give the youngster a start.
Matches between these two sides have had plenty of feeling in recent seasons and expect no different on Sunday.