This season’s top two sides will do battle on Saturday afternoon in what shapes to be a National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20’s decider to remember.
Blacktown City led the competition from Round 6 and never looked back, finishing five points clear of the Sutherland Sharks who locked in second spot.
City overcame a Daniel Bragg red card to trump Rockdale City Suns 2-1 with an Emmanuel Gonzalez winner deep into extra time and earn themselves a shot at their first 20’s Championship since 2015.
Standing in their way are a Sharks side who have been there and done just that not once, but twice before under Nick Dimovski.
Sutherland Sharks took the long route to the big dance this year, falling to Rockdale City Suns in a penalty shootout before rebounding a week later to defeat the Suns 3-1 and book themselves a date with the Premiers at Bankwest Stadium.
They boast the competition’s top scorer James Temelkovski, who with a tally of 16 goals for the campaign and a brace last time out approaches the final in red-hot form.The sides have met twice this campaign, with Blacktown earning early bragging rights with a 3-0 triumph in Round 4, before settling for a tense 1-1 draw at Seymour Shaw back in June.
Blacktown City boss Andrew Montgomery is wary of the considerable Sutherland threat.
“Sutherland Sharks are a very good team with some players who can hurt you when you make mistakes,” he said.
“I’m expecting another very tight game between two of the best teams in the competition going at it.
“It should be a good spectacle.”
2019 has been far from straightforward for Blacktown City, who only retained a single player from last season’s 20’s Premiership-winning squad and have utilised a grand total of 41 different personnel this campaign.
However, any off-field discomfort has failed to restrict their on-field performances, and Montgomery is confident that his outfit who cruised to the Premiership are primed to capture another prized piece of silverware.
“The overarching message from Blacktown City is that we’re giving young players opportunities to shine, and the future is bright,” he added.
“All of the boys have been very consistent throughout the year.
“The Grand Final is exactly the same as what we’ve done all season: we’ll just do what we do and do it very well.”
On the other hand, the men from the Shire are chasing an unprecedented three consecutive Grand Final successes and will endeavour to harness some considerable experience to their advantage.
“Blacktown City led the competition by a country mile during the season, so it’s going to be a really tough match against a quality team,” Sutherland manager Dimovski said.
“There is no doubt in my mind that if the Sharks turn up to play, we can beat anyone.
“We know what it takes to win it, not just to turn up and be a part of the parade.
“Having been to the big dance before, there’s no nerves from our end.”
Following the recent announcement that he will take up the reins as Sutherland’s first team manager from next season, Dimovski is eager to cap off his illustrious three-year tenure as 20’s boss with a third consecutive title.
“It would personally be a fairy-tale finish to win three grand finals for the club that I love, having been involved for over 15 years,” he added.
“I have full confidence in my team and there’s no doubt we can win another Grand Final for sure.”
Saturday 31st August 2019
Blacktown City v Sutherland Sharks
Bankwest Stadium – Kick-Off 2:30pm
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter Chris Curulli (Twitter handle @ChrisCurulli)
Football NSW would like to thank the following organisations for their ongoing support of Football in NSW; TAFE NSW, Wholesale Trophies and the Official Ball Sponsor for the 2019 NPL NSW Competitions, MITRE.