The penultimate finals matchday is on the horizon in the National Premier Leagues competition and with the remaining spot in the decider on the line expect Saturday’s Preliminary final to be a thriller.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers, ‘the underdogs’, stunned Wollongong Wolves on Wednesday night which means the premiers must take on Sydney United 58 at WIN Stadium.
With a chance at Championship glory on the line both sides will leave nothing in the tank for this blockbuster fixture.
Wollongong Wolves v Sydney United 58, 4pm Saturday at WIN Stadium
After dominating the regular season, Wollongong Wolves finals campaign hangs by a thread as the host Sydney United 58 in a do or die preliminary final at WIN Stadium on Saturday.
A spot in the grand final is on the line and both teams will feel they deserve there at Bankwest Stadium on August 31.
Wollongong were expected to cruise into the grand final but they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of a determined APIA outfit in Wednesday night’s Major Semi-Final.
Their opponents United 58 come into the Preliminary Final on the back of a bonkers 7-3 win against Blacktown City in extra time after fighting back into the match twice.
That result has set up Saturday’s gruelling trip down the South Coast as they set out to replicate their 2-1 win against the Wolves at WIN Stadium in round 14.
United 58 and Wollongong have face off twice this season with a draw in the first match and the Wolves losing in the second.
The former NSL giants are the only team to have a winning record against the Wolves this season and it is a statistic which will surely be used to motivate.
One key figure that has been evident at several of United 58’s recent matches has been former Socceroo keeper and United legend Zeljko ‘Spider’ Kalac.
Kalac’s presence in the dressing room has lifted the Reds squad and will no doubt be motivating the players for the big occasion on Saturday.
Nevertheless, Wollongong has been a dominant force this season as they lead the competition from the opening week of the season before clinching the Premiership title.
The usually prolific attack of the Wolves was silenced on Wednesday so don’t expect a repeat on Saturday as Thomas James, Lachlan Scott and playmaker Takeru Okada throw everything on the line to get their side into the decider.
Goalkeeper Justin Pasfield comes up against his former club in this match and the veteran shot stopper could have his work cut out against a strike force which scored seven in their last match.
United 58 come into the match midway through a relentless schedule of three finals and an FFA Cup match in 14 days.
Fatigue is going to be one of the biggest challenges Vlastelica faces as he prepares his squad for this fixture.
While key midfielder Glen Trifiro will once again be unavailable for this match, his replacement Tariq Maia has been playing some of the best football of his career.
Patrick Antelmi was once again used off the bench and against his former side this week he could once again be the man to spark United 58.
Despite the short turnaround Sydney United 58 will be giving nothing short of their best as the set out to clinch a place in the Grand Final and end Wollongong’s season.
The Wolves will be favourites for this match at their WIN Stadium home ground and they will be desperate not to suffer an acrimonious exit from the competition after their regular season heroics.
Both teams know their way to the back of the net and have a knack for finding clutch goals with the game on the line. Expect this thrilling contest to go down to the wire.