Just six rounds of the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s season remain, with three-quarters of the competition still pushing for a place in the top five. It’s unlikely that there will be any new teams in the finals places at the end of Round 17, but there’s still plenty of room to move.
First-placed Blacktown host third-placed Sydney FC in this week’s Match of the Round, while Manly United and Sutherland Sharks face off at Cromer Park as both look to make fifth spot their own. APIA Leichhardt return home to take on Hakoah Sydney City East, and Sydney Olympic welcome Rockdale City Suns to Belmore Sports Ground for a crucial match with the finals approaching.
Match of the Round: Blacktown City v Sydney FC, Sunday 1pm at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City still enjoy a comfortable ten-point lead at the top of the table, and with six rounds remaining appear unlikely to cede top spot any time soon.
Still, they will recognise the importance of this fixture in the wider context of the season, particularly with the finals fast approaching.
Sydney FC could move within seven points of Blacktown with a win at Lily Homes Stadium on Sunday afternoon. More importantly, they would likely give themselves further clearance in the top five, with just two points separating second from fifth.
Blacktown edged a 1-0 win over Manly United last weekend courtesy of a spectacular goal from James Demetriou, while Sydney FC travel west after a 3-0 drubbing of Mt Druitt Town Rangers. Blacktown won this fixture 1-0 when these teams played at Lambert Park earlier in the season.
Saturday 29th of June, 2019
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Wollongong Wolves, 5pm at Popondetta Park
Mt Druitt Town Rangers welcome Wollongong Wolves to Popondetta Park on Saturday afternoon as they look to finish the season on a relative high.
Mt Druitt have four home matches in the run-in but any late charge to the finals would appear unlikely, with nine points between the tenth-placed Rangers from Sutherland Sharks in fifth. In any case, they must surely be hopeful of an improvement on last week’s result; a 3-0 loss to Sydney FC.
Wollongong are faring only marginally better than their Round 17 opponents, sitting three points in front of Mt Druitt in ninth place.
The Wolves’ have suffered from inconsistent form this season, having only once managed to record back-to-back victories. They head Popondetta on the back of a bizarre 1-1 draw with Sydney Olympic, with Bul Juach scoring a late equaliser after Olympic were forced to put an outfield player in goal.
Sunday 30th of June, 2019
Manly United v Sutherland Sharks, 1pm at Cromer Park No. 1
Four points separate Manly United in seventh place from Sutherland Sharks in fifth, making this match a must-win for both sides – or at least a “must-not lose”.
Manly return home this weekend after a 1-0 loss to Blacktown City in Round 16; a respectable scoreline against the best team in the competition in spite of the result.
Sutherland, meanwhile, head north to Cromer Park after a 5-2 defeat of Sydney United 58, with Charlie Jones, Alexander Lopez and Deren O’Brien adding to Harry Sutherland’s brace to give the Sharks their biggest win of the season.
Sutherland can’t be caught by Manly this week, but will be wary of Sydney Olympic in sixth place; three points behind but with a game in hand to come.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers v Hakoah Sydney City East, 1.15pm at Lambert Park
Michael Trajkovski struck twice at Ilinden Sports Ground to earn APIA Leichhardt a point against Rockdale City Suns in Round 16; a result which kept them third ahead of this week’s matchup with Hakoah Sydney City East.
APIA also have a game in hand after their fixture against Sydney United 58 was washed out in Round 15, but there’s still no margin for error in the run-in to the finals.
The Tigers sit level on points with Rockdale and Sutherland in fourth and fifth places respectively, while Sydney FC sit just two points in front in second.
Hakoah travel to Lambert Park in eleventh and on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Marconi Stallions last weekend. They have lost four of their last five matches, but might take some hope into this game after holding APIA to a 2-2 draw at home in April.
Sydney Olympic v Rockdale City Suns, 1.45pm at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic appear set on making their charge for the finals as difficult as possible. They have won just one of their last eight matches – the last a 1-1 draw with Wollongong Wolves – yet somehow they remain sixth, just three points behind fifth-placed Sutherland Sharks and with a game in hand against Hakoah Sydney City East.
Olympic will need to end the season as they started, with four wins from their first five matches allowing them to fall out of form and still be in the hunt for the top five places.
Their first defeat of the season, in fact, came against Rockdale City Suns, who beat Olympic 3-0 at Ilinden Sports Centre back in April.
Rockdale head to Belmore after a 2-2 draw with APIA Leichhardt in Round 16, a result which kept them fourth; level on points with APIA above them and Sutherland Sharks below.
Sydney United 58 v Marconi Stallions, 3pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United seem unable to catch a break, with the competition’s bottom-placed side recording their third-straight defeat last weekend at home to Sutherland Sharks.
Sutherland raced into a 4-0 lead by halftime at Sydney United Sports Centre in Round 16, with two goals in the second half registering as little more than consolation for the hosts.
Sydney United have a game in hand after their Round 15 fixture against APIA Leichhardt was washed out, but remain four points adrift of eleventh-placed Hakoah Sydney City East.
Marconi, for their part, travel to Edensor Park following a 1-0 defeat of Hakoah; their first win in a month coming courtesy of a goal from Damian Tsekenis. The Stallions sit within five points of the finals in eighth place, with a crucial fixture against Sutherland Sharks looming.