It’s Round 14 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition with another six big matches set for this weekend.
With Wollongong Wolves holding a seven point lead at the top of the table will any challengers be able to close the gap?
The highlight clash of the round is Blacktown City taking on Sydney Olympic on Sunday. Blacktown are on an upward trajectory if current form is anything to go by while Olympic are desperate to revive their stuttering campaign.
This week’s fixtures get underway on Saturday night in Mt Druitt as the Rangers host Manly United.
Round 14 features a super Sunday of matches with five games taking place across Sydney and Wollongong.
It’s sure to be another big week of football with plenty on the line.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Manly United FC, Saturday 7pm at Popondetta Park
A big splash in the transfer market this week could help turn around Mt Druitt’s form starting with a match against Manly United on Saturday night.
Veteran Striker Mirjan Pavlovic has made the move up the M7 from Marconi Stallions to join the Rangers focused purely on finding the back of the net for his new team.
It is an injection of class into a struggling Mt Druitt team and shows they are set to put up a fight to retain their spot in the NSW top flight.
Last week they claimed a draw against a stuttering Sydney Olympic and will want to build off that result.
Coach Aidan Desmond still has issues with a leaky defence but expect the injection of Pavlovic to get opposition sides to sit a little deeper when the play the Rangers.
Their opponents Manly United found their scoring touch again as they fought back against Sydney FC to win 3-1.
Manly has scored six goals from their last three games but have conceded five, although four arrived in a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of league leaders Wollongong.
Brendan Cholakian continues to be the ever constant force for the Northern Beaches side and silencing him goes a long way to holding Manly’s attack in check.
He has scored seven goals this campaign as well as providing plenty of assists.
Coach Paul Dee will have his eye on closing down Mt Druitt’s new attacking threat but is surely going to target their paper thin defence.
This game could feature goals with both sides capable of putting the ball in the back of the net with ease.
Blacktown City FC v Sydney Olympic FC, Sunday 3pm at Lily Homes Stadium
The top of the table is back within reach and Blacktown City will be driven to close the gap even more with a win against Sydney Olympic FC on Sunday.
Third placed Blacktown have hit their straps through the mid season mark and have shook off any doubt in their ability to compete following their off-season player exodus to Marconi.
The big secret to Blacktown’s reemergence has been quite simply goals.
The league’s worst attack for large parts of the opening 11 rounds, Blacktown has rediscovered their shooting boots scoring eight goals in their past two games.
Blacktown’s also feature a handy defence which boasts the second least number of goals conceded behind only league leaders Wollongong.
It sets up a challenging prospect for their opponents Sydney Olympic who are very much in the midst of a Premiership hangover this season.
The Abbas Saad coached team sit in eighth spot on the ladder after 13 weeks four points outside fifth spot and goal of finals football.
While scoring goals hasn’t been an issue for Olympic, it has been stopping the other team which has really held them back.
Too many times has Olympic dropped points after taking an early lead.
The round three clash between these two sides was one of the games of the season so far with Olympic fighting back late to snatch a point in a 3-3 draw.
This fixture really could go anyway but if one thing is for sure it will be a must watch.
The Blues will be sweating on the injury to their star Spaniard Alejandro Sanchez who came off injured in last weekend’s draw to the Rangers.
Marconi Stallions v Sydney FC, Sunday 3pm at Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions will be driven to build on last week’s emphatic win and make it back to back victories when they host Sydney FC on Sunday.
The Stallions displayed everything their attack is capable of as they scored five goals in a 5-2 win against rivals Rockdale City Suns.
While that performance gave Marconi fans something to smile about, the team still has a long way to go if they are to live up to their potential as Championship contenders.
Consistency will be the message from coach Peter Tsekenis as too many times this season Marconi have followed up from a win with a poor display.
Tsekenis has seemingly put all his faith in Marko Jesic to spearhead the side’s attack after allowing Mirjan Pavlovic to depart the club this week.
Expect few other changes as they will likely carry the same team from last week’s win.
For Sydney FC the win will be about snatching points from a tough road trip.
With two wins from their last three games, the Young Sky Blues are feeling pretty good despite a busy schedule for their young players.
Coach Jimmy van Weeren has done well to rotate his squad as the club’s A-League and Asian Champions League campaign’s have robbed him of the chance to field his best team.
Hamish Lamberton once again showed his eye for goal last round and has carved a vital role in this team.
It will be a very tough encounter for Sydney with Marconi the favourites for the win at home.
Wollongong Wolves v Sydney United 58 FC, Sunday 3pm at WIN Stadium
Riding high and seemingly on track for a maiden NPL NSW Premiership, Wollongong Wolves will be determined to keep their focus as they host Sydney United 58 on Sunday.
A second half onslaught last round helped the Wolves thrash their nearest rivals APIA Leichhardt 4-0 further stretching their dominance at the top of the pile.
However, Wollongong won’t have it easy this week as Sydney United 58 come to town.
Consistency has been the Wolves weapon of choice this season with everyone in the squad contributing each week.
It is sure to put a smile on Luke Wilkshire’s face as he has finally unlocked the South Coast’s sides potential.
Thomas James has claimed 15 goals to lead the golden boot race while Nikola Djordjevic and Nick Littler are a formidable pairing at the heart of their defence.
It sets up an almighty challenge for Sydney United 58 but the Red’s have a few aces of their own coming into this match-up.
The return of Tomislav Uskok to United 58 from the Melbourne Knights gives the visitors another top tier defender to pair up with Yianni Fragogiannis.
Uskok was a big part of Mark Rudan’s dominant United 58 side and he will want to get back to those winning ways.
The return of Glen Trifiro who recently completed his ‘B’ Licence in Canberra will also boost the clubs stocks as experience may be the key to winning this for the Reds.
Last week United suffered a poor 4-2 defeat to Blacktown City to drop them down to fourth on the ladder.
They will want to bounce back in a big way this round but know tactically they need to get it right to beat off what is a rampant Wolves outfit.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Sutherland Sharks, Sunday 3.30pm at Lambert Park
Second placed APIA Leichhardt will hoping to shake off last week’s defeat when they take on Sutherland Sharks at Lambert Park on Sunday.
The Tigers took a major hit to their Premiership hopes in round 13 with a 4-0 loss to competition leaders Wollongong Wolves.
However it’s not all bad news for APIA and they will want to get back to winning ways against Sutherland Sharks.
Coach John Calleja will be tempted to give new signing Nick Stavroulakis his debut for the club this round in an attempt to sure up his side’s midfield.
APIA’s attack wouldn’t have been happy after being held out and striker Chris Payne is sure to be around the goals this week.
Their opponents Sutherland Sharks boast one of the strangest form records in the competition going undefeated in their last six matches but until two weeks ago hadn’t won a game since round 1.
Those first half of the season struggles appear to be over and if their last few games are anything to go by the Sharks could turn into a real dark horse.
The addition of striker Charles Lokolingoy and defender Liam McGing have helped Sutherland make a major step forward with both players completely changing the once struggling side’s fortunes while the club is hoping to get Bai Antoniou in time for this clash after a stint overseas.
Expect to see a heavy dose of those two this weekend from the Sharks as well as captain Marc Warren whose efforts have been impressive all season.
APIA will be favourites for this game but Sutherland are a real good chance of an upset if they play to their potential.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Rockdale City Suns, Sunday 5 pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East will be looking to repeat their round three win when they take on Rockdale City Suns at Hensley Athletic Field on Sunday.
The Gavin Rae coached side delivered their best performance of the season to secure a 3-0 win against Rockdale.
However, much has changed since that match with Hakoah not winning again since that fixture.
The Eastern Suburbs outfit are desperate to end their streak of 10 games without a win and are sure to take inspiration from that comprehensive win back in round 3.
Oliver Green was a standout in a losing side last week for Hakoah as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sutherland Sharks.
Rae and his side will have a lot of work to do if they are to snatch another upset but in their favour is the fact that the Suns are coming off one of their worst defeats of the campaign.
Rockdale conceded five unanswered goals in round 13 as Marconi fought back from 2-0 down to claim a comprehensive 5-2 victory.
It’s been a tough few weeks for the Suns who have plateaued after a run of six straight wins.
Defence seems to be once again an issue for Rockdale and interim coach Nick Porecca is sure to stress the importance of keeping things together to his squad for this match.
Rockdale will be the favourites for this clash and it will take an almighty Hakoah performance for the home side to snatch an upset.