It’s round three and the National Premier Leagues NSW men’s competition is heating up.
This week another six blockbuster games will take place as all 12 teams jostle for early form.
Marconi Stallions have been the team to beat in the opening two games scoring eight goals and conceding only one to rise to top spot.
The Stallions open the round on Saturday night against Sydney Olympic, while Manly hosts Sydney United 58.
Four games will take place on Sunday as Wollongong Wolves travel to Mt Druitt, North Shore Mariners take on Sydney FC, Blacktown City return to Lily Homes Stadium to play Sutherland Sharks and Rockdale Ilinden go up against APIA Leichhardt.
Marconi Stallions FC v Sydney Olympic FC, Saturday 5pm at Marconi Stadium
League leaders Marconi Stallions will be determined to stretch their run at the top of the table with a win against traditional rivals Sydney Olympic at Marconi Stadium on Saturday.
The Stallions have had a perfect start to the campaign with two wins from as many games scoring eight goals in the process.
Their prolific attack has been unstoppable so far with Marko Jesic, Mitch Mallia and Anthony Frangie displaying inspired form.
Sydney Olympic’s defence will be up against arguably it’s toughest opponents yet as they battle for a first win of the season.
The Terry Palapanis coached side have suffered defeats in both of their opening games albeit in the dying stages of each match and desperately need three points to not fall away from the pack.
The pressure is building at Olympic and high profile signings Fabio Ferreira and Raul Beneit Romero need to deliver sooner rather than later.
Bai Antoniou was dangerous for the Belmore boys against APIA scoring Sydney Olympic’s only goal while Adam Parkhouse was a menace at Lambert Park and could be the X-Factor in this match.
Palapanis’s side is still trying to get their team chemistry right but time is not on their side.
Marconi are in incredible form and a trip out to Marconi Stadium for Olympic is set to be a truly challenging match-up.
Prediction: Marconi Stallions 2 Sydney Olympic 1
Manly United FC v Sydney United 58 FC, Saturday 7pm at Cromer Park
A maiden win for the season will be the agenda for Manly United as they host an in-form Sydney United 58 at Cromer Park on Sunday
Manly suffered a 1-0 loss to Blacktown City last week to make it two defeats from their opening two games.
The Paul Dee coached side have not played poorly this season but have paid the price for a lack of a cutting edge upfront.
Brendan Cholakian and the Manly attack will need to find their shooting boots if they are to guide the Northern Beaches side to three competition points.
United 58 come into the contest on the back of an emphatic 5-0 drubbing of Mt Druitt and will be full of confidence.
Their struggles in front of goal during round one were well and truly gone as the Zeljko Kalac coached side were at time unstoppable going forward.
Matt Sim has been in brilliant touch and his ability to open up the game could be the key for the visitors.
Patrick Antelmi found his goalscoring boots last weekend and will be keen to continue this while the rise in form of Devante Clut could be something to watch out for.
Manly will need to rediscover their top form and hope a boisterous home crowd can inspire them against a United 58 team which is picking up pace.
Prediction: Manly United 1 Sydney United 58 3
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Wollongong Wolves FC, Sunday 2pm at Popondetta Park
Mt Druitt Town Rangers will be desperate to end a horror opening to the season with a win against Wollongong Wolves at Popondetta Park on Sunday.
The Rangers were stunned by Sydney FC in week one before slumping to a 5-0 defeat at the hands of a fired up Sydney United 58.
Veteran signings Travis Oughtred and Mateo Poljak were brought in to strengthen Mt Druitt defensively at the start of the season so the pressure will be on them to deliver.
Carlos Saliadarre has been brilliant in goals making a number of big saves, however his efforts can only do so much and the experienced shot stopper will need more support from the players in front of him
Wollongong come into the game on the back of a shock defeat to North Shore Mariners.
The Luke Wilkshire coached side will be out to bounce back with a big win.
Thomas James found his shooting touch with a brace against the Mariners and the 2019 Golden Boot winner will be on the hunt for more goals to defend his title.
Veteran custodian Justin Pasfield was a key omission in the team’s loss to the Mariners as Hayden Durose sat underneath the sticks, it will be interesting to see what Wilkshire does this weekend.
Wollongong will be heavy favourites for this game but if Mt Druitt can turn things around it could be the result needed to kickstart their season.
Prediction: Mt Druitt Town Rangers 0 Wollongong Wolves 2
North Shore Mariners v Sydney FC, Sunday 3pm at Lambert Park
North Shore Mariners are out to claim back-to-back win in the NPL NSW for the first time when they host Sydney FC at Lambert Park on Sunday.
The competition new boys have made a brilliant start to their time in the state league top tier with a draw and a win in their opening two games.
A shock upset of Wollongong Wolves last round was proof the Joe Haywood coached outfit is not here just to makeup the numbers.
Panny Nikas had a debut to remember last week scoring an absolute screamer, while Emannuel Peters has made it two goals in two games and has been the talk of the competition thus far.
Sydney FC had a bit of a reality check last week suffering a 4-0 thrashing against league leaders Marconi Stallions only seven days after opening the season with a shock win against Mt Druitt.
It is back to the drawing board for coach Jim van Weeren who will be determined to avoid an early season slump.
Jordi Swibel and Benjamin Koop showed good form in the opening game and will need to find that level of performance again if they are to win.
Neither side are in this competition to make up the numbers and will be doing everything they can to claim a valuable three points.
Prediction: North Shore Mariners 2 Sydney FC 1
Blacktown City FC v Sutherland Sharks FC, Sunday 3pm at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City will be out to mark captain Matt Lewis’s 300th game with a win when they host Sutherland Sharks at Lily Homes Stadium on Sunday.
City’s veteran star has been at the core of the club’s success over the past decade and it has been Lewis’ goals which helped Blacktown to back-to-back wins to start this campaign.
Blacktown have been difficult to breakdown and have made the most of limited chances going forward.
The Mark Crittenden coached side are well disciplined and will give the Sharks very little.
Even though City went into the year minus a few big names with Joey Gibbs signing overseas and Daniel Araujo suspended, Crittenden has been able to marshal his squad very well.
Their opponents Sutherland have had a harder start to the 2020 season with a loss and a draw from their two games.
They did well too bounce back with a draw last week against Rockdale after being thrashed by Marconi in the opening round.
New club captain Blake Powell showed off his clinical finishing skills against Rockdale and will be very dangerous if given chances.
Dutch defender Joey Groenbast is starting to find his feet and has shown flashes of what he is capable of.
Sutherland will need to score early and force Blacktown to fight their way back. But if they don’t, Blacktown will be more than happy to grind out another win with their suffocating defence.
Prediction: Blacktown City 1 Sutherland Sharks 0
Rockdale Ilinden FC v APIA Leichhardt FC, Sunday 4.30pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale Ilinden will be out to end seven years of struggles when they take on APIA Leichhardt at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday.
The home side boast an absolutely horrific record against APIA in recent years and have not beaten them in the league since 2013 with APIA winning 11 of their past 14 clashes and drawing the other three.
The past six matches between these two sides makes even worse reading for Rockdale fans with APIA scoring an insane 31 goals and conceding only four.
However, all is not lost for the Ilinden faithful with the Steven Zoric coached side fired up to put this shocking record to bed.
Japanese import Tomiki Wada is one such player that can light up the home crowd faithful and will be one to look out for come game day.
Ironically it is a former APIA player who could be the difference maker with Sam Gulisano proving to be a dangerous player for Rockdale after joining the club during the offseason.
APIA won’t be taking this game lightly even though they’ve had the wood over their rivals for such a long time.
Their win against Sydney Olympic last week demonstrated that the reigning Champions still remain one of the teams to beat.
Chris Payne has quickly rediscovered his shooting boots and was in the right place at the right time last weekend, while Josh Symons is leading from the front with back-to-back stand-out performances in the club’s backline alongside Themba Muata Marlow.
Zoric has pledged a new era at Rockdale and there is no better way to prove that by shaking off the weight of this horror record.
Prediction: Rockdale Ilinden 1 APIA Leichhardt 3