Blacktown City wrapped up the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s Premiership with a week to spare but there’s still plenty to play for in the final round of the regular season.
The Premiers will look to head into the finals with a head of steam, and face Hakoah Sydney City East before taking a week off to prepare for their major semi final.
Rockdale are fighting for a place in the preliminary semi as they take on Sutherland at Ilinden Sports Centre, while APIA Leichhardt are also pushing to avoid the elimination semi next weekend.
Match of the Round: Rockdale City Suns v Sutherland Sharks, Sunday 1pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale and Sutherland Sharks meet on Sunday afternoon at Ilinden Sports Centre with second place on the line; Rockdale sitting just two points behind their visitors ahead of their Round 22 clash.
Jake Cakovski gave Rockdale a 1-0 win over Wollongong Wolves last weekend, a result which saw his side move up into third place ahead of Sydney FC and APIA Leichhardt.
A defeat to Sutherland here would see Rockdale drop down to fourth if APIA beat Mt Druitt at Popondetta, making this match a must-win for the side from Ilinden.
Sutherland, meanwhile, should head to Rockdale refreshed following a week’s rest. The Sharks travel to Ilinden on a run of six straight victories; the most recent a 6-1 win over Mt Druitt at the end of July.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Blacktown City, 1pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East fought for a 2-1 win at Mt Druitt Town Rangers last weekend; a fiery clash at Popondetta Park leading to three red cards between the two teams at the end of the 90.
Nikita Parkes and Coen Emmenegger were sent off for Hakoah while Mitchell Knight and Ellis Bellos were on the scoresheet, giving Hakoah their fifth win of a difficult season.
It will get no easier against new Premiers Blacktown City, who will travel to Hensley looking for an emphatic win to see out the regular season ahead of the finals.
Blacktown enjoy a five point lead over Sutherland Sharks at the top of the table, having secured the Premiership last weekend with a 2-0 win over Marconi Stallions.
James Demetriou and Alen Aganovic were on hand to score the goals which sealed the title; Blacktown’s second in as many seasons.
Sydney United 58 v Manly United, 1pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
A tough 2019 comes to an end for Sydney United and Manly United on Sunday afternoon, with neither side able to change their fate as the regular season wraps up.
Sydney United are rooted to the foot of the table, and have been guaranteed of an unwanted wooden spoon for some weeks now.
Having won just twice this season, they sit 11 points adrift of eleventh-placed Hakoah Sydney City East following a 3-0 defeat to Sydney Olympic in Round 21.
Manly United head to Sydney United Sports Centre on the back of a 2-1 win over APIA Leichhardt last weekend; goals from Vaughan Hudy and Jordan Devries putting their side seventh ahead of My Druitt and Marconi.
With a ten point gap between themselves and fifth-placed APIA, Manly have found themselves in a sort of limbo towards the end of the season. The win last week was their first since mid-June.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 1pm at Popondetta Park
APIA Leichhardt travel to Popondetta Park on Sunday afternoon with their fate out of their hands, having lost the advantage in the race for second or third behind Blacktown City after a 2-1 defeat to Manly United last weekend.
APIA lost for the first time in four weeks at Cromer Park last weekend, with Zeke Prisuda scoring the only goal for the Tigers as they settled into fifth place behind Sydney FC and Rockdale.
They could yet beat Rockdale into third, but would need to win here while hoping Sutherland win at Ilinden Sports Centre.
Mt Druitt, for their part, fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Hakoah Sydney City East in Round 21; Riley Ellem scoring his side’s only goal as the Rangers ended the match with ten men following Emmanuel Peters’ red card.
Mt Druitt could finish as high as ninth should they beat APIA and other results go their way, though the Tigers will make for a determined opponent as they look to avoid an elimination final next week.
Wollongong Wolves v Marconi Stallions, 1pm at Win Stadium
Wollongong prepare to host Marconi Stallions on Sunday afternoon at the end of an underwhelming season for the Wolves; the latest defeat to Rockdale City Suns leaving them only a point closer to the top five than they are to the bottom of the ladder.
Marconi, too, have failed to impress this season, and head to Win Stadium on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Premiers Blacktown City.
The Stallions sit ninth at the start of Round 22, just a point and a place above Wollongong ahead of their meeting on Sunday afternoon.
-By Max Grieve