It’s round three of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition with another six huge fixtures set to take to the field this weekend.
Wollongong Wolves have returned to the top of the table with the reigning Premiers determined to cement their position as the team to beat.
This week’s matches get underway with a doubleheader on Friday night as APIA Leichhardt host Western Sydney Wanderers and Blacktown City take on Sydney Olympic.
On Saturday night Rockdale Ilinden will visit Popondetta Park for a clash against Mt Druitt Town Rangers.
Finally, Sunday will feature three matches including Wollongong Wolves against Marconi Stallions, Sydney United 58 FC hosting Manly United and a clash between Sydney FC and North Shore Mariners to wrap up the round.
APIA Leichhardt FC v Western Sydney Wanderers, 7 pm Friday at Lambert Park
The pressure will be on APIA Leichhardt to get back on track when they host Western Sydney Wanderers at Lambert Park on Friday.
Two defeats from their first two matches of the rebooted season has APIA languishing at the bottom of the table.
The reigning Champions will need to find form fast if they are to keep their finals hopes alive.
Against Wollongong in round two they conceded four goals, including three in the second half in a 4-1 loss – it was a case of a lack of conditioning as APIA ran out of puff in the second stanza.
Coach John Calleja will have a lot of work to do ahead of this match with defence a high priority.
The absence of suspended defender Paul Galimi was felt in the backline with even Josh Symon’s sublime display not enough to plug APIA’s leaky defence.
Calleja will hope that Chris Payne gets on roll on along with experienced midfielder Franco Parisi and skipper Sean Symons who have had quiet starts to the year
Nick Stavroulakis made a return to the starting line-up as he replaced the suspended David D’Apuzzo and his aggression and will to win was evident before getting substituted.
The Wanderers come into this match with confidence they can snatch three points after two strong performances to mark their ascension into the NSW top tier.
Last week they held Manly United in a 0-0 draw at Cromer Park.
Wild finishes have featured in the Wanderers first two games with the side demonstrating they are a side which will keep fighting until the final whistle
Jarrod Carluccio, Lochlan Constable, Dean Pelekanos will be ones to watch out for as well Rory Jordan who has been signalled out by many as a player for the future.
This match has the potential for plenty of goals and will be one you won’t want to miss.
Blacktown City FC v Sydney Olympic FC, 7.30 pm Friday at Lily Homes Stadium
Two heavyweights of the competition go head to head on Friday night as Blacktown City host Sydney Olympic FC at Lily Homes Stadium.
Both sides have proven they’re title contenders this year and will be desperate to get a victory against high profile opposition.
Blacktown City were held by Mt Druitt last week in a 2-2 draw and coach Mark Crittenden is sure to be disappointed with his side’s inability to close out the contest.
Central defender Grant Lynch continues to be vital to Blacktown’s success not only in his ability to stop the opposition but also with his involvement in bringing the ball out from the back.
Charles Mendy is also in fine form and will be looking to score for the second straight week.
Sydney Olympic comes into the match with little to show for their Round 2 efforts after the match was abandoned 50 minutes in due to torrential rain.
Olympic should be energised ahead of this clash with their electric attacking trio of Fabio Ferreira, Charles Lokolingoy and Adam Parkhouse hungry for goals.
This clash of the NPL titans has the potential to be the match of the round.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Rockdale Ilindend FC, 7 pm Saturday at Popendetta Park
Mt Druitt Town Rangers will be fighting for their first win of the rebooted season when they host Rockdale Ilinden at Popondetta Park on Saturday.
The Rangers showed plenty of heart last week to fight back and claim a 2-2 draw against local rivals Blacktown City.
Striker John Roberts was a dangerous presence for the Rangers at the top of the attack and will be relied on once again to find the back of the net.
Rockdale will be playing for back to back wins after stunning Marconi Stallions 1-0 last week.
Midfielder Tomoki Wada has begun to deliver for Rockdale and could quickly become a key cog in their attack.
Sam Guilisano is another player who is due for a big performance and will be one to keep an eye on.
Mt Druitt will have the home field advantage but Rockdale won’t be an easy team to beat. Expect this one to go down to the wire.
Wollongong Wolves v Marconi Stallions, 2.30 pm Sunday at Albert Butler Memorial Park
League leaders Wollongong Wolves will be playing for three straight wins when they host Marconi Stallions at Albert Butler Memorial Park on Sunday.
The Wolves flexed their attacking muscle with a 4-1 win against APIA last week and will be hungry for goals against a strong Marconi outfit.
Striker Bul Juach is in great form for Wollongong after scoring a brace in round 2.
His pace and powerful finishing is a handful for any defence.
His partnership with fellow marksman Lachlan Scott who also notched up a brace could prove to be the difference in this match.
Marconi suffered a shock 1-0 loss last round and will be determined to return to winning ways on Sunday.
Martin Fernandez’s introduction off the bench helped change the Stallions fortunes against Rockdale and he could be in for a shot of a starting berth this week.
Nenad Vekic between the sticks could be in for a busy day and a strong performance from him could play a big part in a possible Marconi win.
With so much attacking firepower on show, this match could be a real showcase for the fans.
Sydney United 58 FC v Manly United FC, 3 pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
Back to back wins will be on the agenda for Zeljko Kalac and his Sydney United 58 side when they host Manly United on Sunday.
Young striker Michael Ruhs snatched a dramatic winner for United 58 in the dying seconds last week to secure a 1-0 victory.
However, the real star of the show was Thomas Manos in goal who showed off his extensive talent with save after save.
He will be very important again this round with his experience vital to United 58’s success.
Goals will be the most important thing for Manly United who have yet to find the back of the net since the season reboot.
The attacking trio of Scott Balderson, Brendon Cholakian and Marley Peterson will need to make better use of their opportunities.
Kieran Paull has been another standout player for Manly with his runs up the flank creating chance after chance.
This is a very evenly matched contest and the result could easily go either way.
Sydney FC v North Shore Mariners FC, 6.30 pm Sunday at Ilinden Sports Centre
Sydney FC returns to action on Sunday night when they host North Shore Mariners at Ilinden Sports Centre.
The Young Sky Blues showed plenty of fighting spirit to keep Sydney Olympic scoreless for 50 minutes last week before the match was called off due to heavy rain.
Patrick Wood looked dangerous for Sydney when he was on the ball and with a few more solid performances could cement his position as the side’s starting number nine.
North Shore Mariners suffered a heartbreaking loss last week going down 1-0 to Sydney United 58 after a goal deep into added time.
Joe Haywood’s side did well to hold out wave after wave of United 58 attacks before finally conceding with one of the last kicks of the match.
Livewire attacker Emmanuel Peters was a handful for Sydney United and will be the player Sydney FC should look to close down.
Peter’s pace and ability to take on defenders could open up the match for the visitors.
Sydney FC has had a very impressive start to the campaign and will be determined to carry that on this Sunday.
However, the Mariners are no easy beats and could be spurred on by their heartbreak in round two.