It’s the final round of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s regular season and while the Premiership race has been wrapped up there is still a lot on the line.
Wollongong Wolves clinched their first Premiership in more than 30 years last round and will be out to put on a show for their home fans when they return to WIN Stadium on Sunday. A carnival like atmosphere will rock the South with a special Premiership parade set to take shape at WIN Stadium, honouring Luke Wilkshire’s men.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers, Blacktown City and Marconi Stallions have secured their place in the finals but won’t be taking this week easy as they look to enter the playoffs in the best possible form.
There is still one more finals place to be decided and it will be a three way battle on Sunday between Sydney United 58, Sydney Olympic and Mt Druitt Town Rangers to book their ticket to the post season.
It will be a thrilling final chapter in what has been a massive season and one you won’t want to miss.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Blacktown City, Sunday 3pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East will be looking to end a horror season on a high note when they take on Blacktown City at Hensley Athletic Field on Sunday.
The Eastern Suburbs based side has only three wins this season, two of which came in the opening five rounds, suffering through painful defeats time after time.
It proved costly for former coach Gavin Rae who was moved on by the club a fortnight ago as they prepared for their relegation to NPL NSW Men’s 2 competition next season.
Hakoah have had a brilliant run in the NSW’s top tier competition and will be out to send a message in their final NPL NSW Men’s match for at least the next 12 months.
Ryan Norval has been Hakoah’s most consistent performer this year while Oliver Green and Harry Jones have also been bright spots in what has been a grim campaign.
The come up against third placed Blacktown City who will be determined to go into the finals on the back of a win.
The Mark Crittenden coached side were stunned 2-0 by Marconi in Round 21 and will be using this game to tweak a few things before the playoffs.
One key figure missing in the line-up will be defender Grant Lynch who was sent off in the match against the Stallions.
The visitors though have a number of quality ready to step in, and with the club taking out the Club Championship title for yet another year, look towards seeing a few rising prospects unearthed in this match.
Blacktown will be favourites for this match but don’t write off Hakoah who will be giving everything to go out with a bang.
Rockdale City Suns v Sutherland Sharks, Sunday 3pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns and Sutherland Sharks will do battle for local bragging rights as they face off in a Southern Sydney Derby at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday.
While both teams have been ruled out of finals contention it doesn’t mean they’ll be taking this game lightly.
Ninth placed Rockdale and tenth placed Sutherland are split by only a point on the ladder with the winner finishing the season with the highest points tally of the two.
Rockdale come into this game after a narrow 2-1 defeat to Premiers Wollongong Wolves.
Defence again let Rockdale down as the Wolves made the most of their few chances.
With nothing to lose it will be interesting to see what formation the side goes with,
Sutherland come into the match on the back of a comprehensive 4-0 win against Sydney FC last week.
Strikers Jeremy Cox and Charles Lokolingoy were in inspired form as they each scored a brace against an inexperienced Sydney back line.
It will be a bit tougher this week but if anyone can find the back of the net it is these two. Lokolingoy has been linked with a move to the Hong Kong top tier competition with the big marksman hoping he can sign off on a bang come Sunday.
Rockdale will be favourites at home but Sutherland’s recent form shows this game could truly go either way.
Sydney FC v Sydney Olympic, Sunday 3pm at Lambert Park
The Young Sky Blues have the chance at ending Sydney Olympic’s finals hopes when the two sides face off on Sunday at Lambert Park.
Sydney Olympic need to win and hope Sydney United 58 lose in their match if the reigning championship winners are to have a shot at defending their title.
Sydney FC have been battling with senior squad commitments to field a team in the NPL as coach Jim van Weeren has turned to youth academy players to help carry the load.
While the scoreline of a 4-0 defeat is never flattering, rookie shot stopper Matteo Scali had a performance to be proud of as he made numerous clutch saves to deny sure goals.
Utility Harry van der Saag was one of the few players who backed up after the match against French giants PSG in China and his experience will be important if they are to win.
Olympic come into this game on the back of a narrow 2-1 win against rivals United 58 and will be desperate to keep their season alive.
Club captain Jason Madonis is one of only three players in the team to have started every match this season for the club and his determination and never say die attitude will be vital for Olympic.
Olympic will be favourites for this match but Sydney FC have shown they are capable of puling off an upset.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v APIA Leichhardt Tigers, Sunday 3pm at Popondetta Park
Mt Druitt Town Rangers have a chance of an incredible finals berth in their first season in the NPL NSW but first they must defeat APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
The Rangers have found their groove over the second half of the campaign and could sneak into fifth spot with a win and if other results go their way.
Last week Mt Druitt cruised to a dominant 4-0 win against Hakoah Sydney City East but APIA will be a far tougher task.
The Aidan Desmond coached side boast a quality attack with plenty of scoring options including John Roberts, Mirjan Pavlovic and Toufic Alameddine.
Pulling the strings is Fabricio Fernandez who is just as likely to score as he is to create goals.
APIA’s defence will need to be up to their best for this match but they haven’t earned their second spot on the table without knowing how to stop the opposition from scoring.
With their spot on the table secured as well as finals football APIA have the possibility of rotating their squad to freshen their legs ahead of the post season.
Don’t be surprised if coach John Calleja calls on some of his younger players for this match. With a couple of players walking the tight rope with yellow cards, some fresh new faces could be seen as well as the introduction of Nick Stavroulakis who may return.
Striker Chris Payne will be looking to add to his tally of 20 goals as the race for the golden boot goes down to the wire. Since moving from Sydney United 58 where he was let go, Payne has relished his time at the Tigers and has been on fire in front of goals.
Mt Druitt have a lot riding on this match and will be tough to beat at home. If APIA go with a full strength squad they will be favourites but if not the result could be wide open.
Sydney United 58 v Manly United, Sunday 3pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Finals football is only one game away for Sydney United 58 and they will need all three points when they host Manly United on Sunday to confirm their place in the playoffs.
However, recent form hasn’t been too positive for United 58 and they will need a big turn around if they are to get the job done against Manly on Sunday.
United 58 have struggled to find the back of the net during the second half of the season and the pressure will be on Matt Sim, Peter Simonoski and Patrick Antelmi to find the back of the net.
Their opponents Manly United have been doing it just as tough and are out of the finals race after a 1-0 loss to APIA last week.
Paul Dee’s side have struggled to reach their best form this season but have a chance of changing the finals picture with an upset win this weekend.
Look to Brendan Cholakian, Charles Mendy and Scott Balderson as Manly’s game changers in this fixture.
United 58 have a lot riding on this result and will need to elevate their performance if they are to get the points.
Wollongong Wolves v Marconi Stallions, Sunday 3pm at WIN Stadium
Newly crowned Premiers Wollongong Wolves will have the chance to wrap up a near flawless regular season with a win when they host Marconi Stallions on Sunday.
The Wolves bounced back from a stumble against Blacktown City to cement the title which they’ve had one hand on for a good part of the season.
In their final game of the season coach Luke Wilkshire will be tempted to rotate his troops ahead of a gruelling finals campaign.
Star striker Thomas James will be hoping to win the Golden Boot award and with APIA’s Chris Payne closing in expect the English man to be hungry for more goals.
Looking to stop James and Wollongong is an in-form Marconi Stallions team which secured their place among the other top five with a win against Blacktown City.
Coach Peter Tsekenis will also have a chance to rotate his squad so don’t be surprised to see some new names on the team sheet. A few players are walking suspension tight-ropes and with a round of 16 FFA Cup clash around the corner, this could be an ideal time for Tsekenis to rest some of his stars.
One player deserving of some extra minutes is young Damien Tsekenis who dazzled in his late cameo last weak – the young gun has been in fine form and has been the talk of the NPL NSW Men’s competition of late.
While no finals implications are riding on this match it is still sure to be a blockbuster.