Nobody is giving an inch with two rounds left of the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s regular season; the gap between first-placed Blacktown and the chasing Sutherland still just two points at the end of Round 20.
The leaders have a game in hand on the Sharks but will have to wait until next weekend for the chance to wrap up the Premiership, while the top five has been decided but the order is far from clear. APIA and Rockdale both won to keep them in the hunt for second place, while Sydney Olympic were finally put out of the race for the finals. In this week’s Match of the Round, Sutherland Sharks hit Mt Druitt Town Rangers for six on Saturday afternoon at Seymour Shaw.
Match of the Round: Sutherland Sharks 6-1 Mt Druitt Town Rangers, Saturday 4.30pm at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland went first – if only for a day – after thrashing Mt Druitt Town Rangers on Saturday afternoon at Seymour Shaw; the Sharks holding top spot until Blacktown City beat Wollongong the next day.
It was a rout for the team now back in second place, with James Temelkovski and Charlie Jones both scoring braces in a 6-1 win for Sutherland.
Jacob McDonald and Deren O’Brien were also on the scoresheet for the hosts, while Yinka Sunmola scored the only goals for Mt Druitt on a difficult afternoon for the visitors.
This defeat was Mt Druitt’s heaviest of the season, and comes at the end of a run of three straight wins.
With two games left and six points to make up on Sydney Olympic above them, the Rangers seem destined to finish seventh or lower.
Saturday 27th of July 2019
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 3-0 Sydney FC, 5pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt put out a strong statement a few weeks out from the finals with a 3-0 defeat of Sydney FC on Saturday afternoon – a result which sees the Tigers move within a point of the Sky Blues.
The win, sealed by goals from Michael Trajkovski, Zeke Prisuda and Peter Nichols, helped to clinch APIA’s place in the finals – a defeat would have put them within Sydney Olympic’s reach – though the side from Lambert Park must be setting their sights higher than fourth.
The Tigers can’t catch Blacktown City, but could still take second if they win both of their remaining games.
The Sky Blues, meanwhile, will have to sit and wait to see where they end up, having already played their games for Rounds 21 and 22. Fifth appears a likelihood, with APIA and Rockdale still having two games to play.
Sunday 28th of July 2019
Manly United 1-2 Rockdale City Suns, 1pm at Cromer Park
Manly United went ahead in the first half at Cromer Park on Sunday afternoon but Rockdale City Suns came from behind to win 2-1, a result which seals Rockdale’s place in the finals.
William Martin put Manly up before the break, while a double from Jake Cakovski helped to complete the comeback for the visitors in the second half.
Rockdale are now unbeaten in six matches, giving the Ilinden Sports Centre side a four lead over sixth-placed Sydney United, having played one game fewer.
Blacktown City FC 1-0 Wollongong Wolves, 1pm at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City started their match against Wollongong Wolves in second position for the first time in a long time, having been knocked off the top of the table by Sutherland Sharks the previous day.
With only one win from their previous six matches the pressure was on Blacktown to take a big step towards securing the Premiership, and they duly delivered.
Emmanuel Gonzalez was on target to take Blacktown back to the top ahead of the final two rounds of the regular season, with the leaders just two points ahead of second-placed Sutherland – albeit with a game in hand.
A win away to Marconi will clinch the Premiership next weekend, far later than might’ve been expected given Blacktown’s sizeable lead earlier in the year.
Wollongong, for their part, can only aim as high as seventh in the run-in to the end of the season, with games against Rockdale and Marconi to come.
Sydney Olympic 2-0 Marconi Stallions, 1.45pm at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic needed a number of results to go their way this weekend to have any chance of making the finals, but their season is now over despite a 2-0 win against Marconi.
APIA and Rockdale wins above them put an end to any faint hope that Olympic could sneak into the top five, but Olympic acquitted themselves well regardless.
Giovanni Panuccio and Alex Gollan put Olympic ahead by two, while Marconi’s Paolo Laxamana was sent off for two yellow card offences to leave the Stallion with ten men at the end of the 90.
Olympic remain sixth, four points behind fifth-placed Rockdale with just one game to play. Marconi, having perhaps entertained the idea of making the finals themselves only a month ago, are even further off the pace, having dropped twelve points behind Rockdale into eighth place.
Hakoah Sydney City East 1-1 Sydney United 58 FC, 3pm at Hensley Athletic Field
The competition’s two bottom teams played out a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon at Hensley Athletic Field, a result which confirmed Sydney United will finish the 2019 season in last place.
Both Hakoah and United had scored by halftime and a goalless second half ensured the two would split the points at the end of Round 20, doing little for either side.
Hakoah are now, at least, guaranteed to finish eleventh or higher, with an eight points gap down to United in twelvth.