Only a point separates Rockdale City Suns in second place from Sydney Olympic in sixth, pointing to a desperate scramble to the finish line as we near the business end of the season.
Blacktown City lead the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s by eleven points ahead of their Round 14 match against Olympic, while in the Match of the Round Mt Druitt take on Manly United as each look to make their push for the finals.
Third plays fourth as APIA Leichhardt Tigers host Sutherland Sharks at Lambert Park, and Rockdale will look to rediscover some form when they travel to play Hakoah Sydney City East on Sunday afternoon.
Match of the Round: Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Manly United, Saturday 5pm at Popondetta Park
Mt Druitt will look to pick themselves up on Saturday afternoon after an ordinary run of results which has seen them slip to ninth place ahead of this week’s match against Manly United.
The Rangers were beaten 2-1 by Sydney Olympic in Round 13; Jordan Gomez on the scoresheet for Mt Druitt as they lost for the sixth time in 2019. Still, Mt Druitt could overtake their Round 14 opponents, Manly United, should they manage to win on Saturday.
Manly sit two points – and two places – above Mt Druitt in seventh, following a 1-0 win over Sydney FC at Lambert Park last weekend.
Jamie Glover scored the only goal of the game in spectacular style to take his side within three points of the top five places, with Manly now looking to string together consecutive victories for the first time in over a month.
Blacktown City FC v Sydney Olympic, 5pm at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City stretched their unbeaten run out to ten matches as they overcame Sydney United 58 2-1 last weekend; a goal from Dale Howarth helping tip the balance in favour of the visitors at Sydney United Sports Centre.
Blacktown could lose their next three matches and still be two points clear at the top of the table, but will be eager to keep pushing further out in front of the chasing teams behind them.
This weekend, they welcome Sydney Olympic to Lily Homes Stadium; the visitors arriving on the back of a much-needed 2-1 win over Mt Druitt in Round 13.
Michael Gaitatzis and Dimi Petratos helped their side to its first win since April, as Olympic look to arrest their slide down the table and make their way back into the finals places.
Currently they sit sixth, level on points with fifth-placed Sydney FC but behind on goal difference. A result at Lily Homes Stadium might be too much to hope for, but Olympic must surely be prepared to dig in and fight as they take on the strongest side in the competition.
Marconi Stallions FC v Sydney FC, 1pm at Marconi Stadium
Marconi welcome Sydney FC to Marconi Stadium on Sunday afternoon as they look to make their push for the top five, with the Stallions just four points behind fifth-placed Sydney FC ahead of this match.
Marconi are eighth after winning for the second time in three matches last weekend, beating Rockdale City Suns 2-1 at Ilinden Sports Centre.
Sydney FC travel to Marconi Stadium on the back of their first loss in six matches; the Sky Blues now left with no margin for error with Sydney Olympic level on points behind them in sixth place.
With both sides sitting either side of the edge of the top five, this clash could prove crucial to their respective seasons.
Wollongong Wolves FC v Sydney United 58, 1pm at Win Stadium
Wollongong Wolves went ahead after against APIA Leichhardt Tigers after just four minutes in their Round 13 clash at Win Stadium last weekend, with Liam Willie finishing at the end of a terrific run from Bul Juach to give his side the lead.
It was a lead that lasted just two minutes, and was overturned completely when APIA scored a penalty in the second half; the match ending 2-1 to the visitors.
In spite of a particularly disappointing result last weekend, Wollongong should be hopeful of performing better against the competition’s bottom side in Sydney United 58.
Sydney United lost for the first time in three matches when they fell 2-1 to Blacktown City in Round 13, a respectable result given the two sides’ respective positions. They have picked up three draws on the road this season, and have improved in recent weeks with a win over Sydney Olympic followed by draws away to Rockdale and Manly United.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Sutherland Sharks, 1.15pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt came from behind to beat Wollongong Wolves 2-1 at Win Stadium last Saturday; goals from Camil Abouchaaya and Michael Trajkovski helping the Tigers move up into third place ahead of this week’s fixture against Sutherland Sharks.
APIA have been inconsistent in recent weeks, and haven’t managed to string two wins together since the first fortnight of the 2019 season. Their Round 14 opponents, Sutherland Sharks, will be equally eager to snatch a win on Sunday afternoon as they look to win for the third week in a row.
Sutherland blew past Hakoah Sydney City East last weekend, scoring three goals in the second half to move up a place to fourth ahead of their trip to Lambert Park.
APIA and Sutherland sit third and fourth respectively on 21 points ahead of this match, level with second-placed Rockdale and just one point ahead of Sydney FC and Sydney Olympic in fifth and sixth.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Rockdale City Suns, 3pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East held Sutherland Sharks for an hour at Hensley Athletic Field last Sunday, but conceded three times in the last thirty minutes to fall to their third loss in as many games.
They remain eleventh ahead of their Round 14 match against Rockdale City Suns, and are only a point ahead of wooden-spooners Sydney United 58.
Rockdale travel to Hensley in indifferent form; sitting second but now eleven points off leaders Blacktown City after dropping points in three of their last five matches.
Last weekend they were defeated 2-1 by Marconi Stallions at Ilinden Sports Centre, with Noah Botic’s first half strike not enough to prevent a third home defeat of the season.
-By Max Grieve