Round 5 of the National Premier Leagues competition has arrived and another massive weekend of action is on the agenda.
It’s approaching the halfway point of the season and with so few games remaining every point will matter.
The action gets underway on Friday nights with two games as APIA Leichhardt host North Shore Mariners while Marconi Stallions travel to take on Blacktown City.
It’s a Western Suburbs derby on Saturday night with Mt Druitt Town Rangers up against Western Sydney Wanderers while Sydney FC face Manly United on Saturday evening.
Sunday features three games starting with a top of the table clash between Sydney Olympic and Rockdale Ilinden as well as Sydney United 58’s clash with Wollongong Wolves.
APIA Leichhardt v North Shore Mariners, 7 pm Friday at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt’s finals hopes go on the line when they face the North Shore Mariners at Lambert Park on Friday night.
APIA have had a difficult start to the rebooted season losing three of their first four games to leave them slumped in ninth position, four places outside finals qualification.
A 1-0 defeat to Sydney FC in round four was APIA’s most recent defeat.
It is sure to have coach John Calleja in a spin as to how he can get last season’s Champions back to winning ways.
The club’s veteran stars such as Franco Parisi, Adrian Ucchino and Chris Payne, as well as captain Sean Symons, must lead from the front to guide APIA back to the high standards the club prides itself on.
The hosts have used a couple of its youth products in recent weeks and will look towards doing that for the course of this rebooted season as senior stars such as Josh Symons, Themba Muata Marlow, Paul Galimi look set to miss out battling injuries.
The likes of Nick Azzone, Camil Abouchaaya, Vincent Fedele as well as former Sydney FC NPL youngster Patrick Scibilio will be names many NPL NSW Men’s fans will see more of in weeks to come.
They come up against a North Shore Mariners side which has also struggled since the restart.
Yet to win a game of the rebooted campaign, the Mariners sit in last place with only one point to their name.
A 4-1 loss to Wollongong Wolves last week was yet another frustrating defeat for Joe Haywood’s squad.
However, it’s not been all bad news for the Northbridge based side with the Mariners creating plenty of chances and taking the game to Wollongong when they could’ve easily rolled over after conceding early on.
Lawrence Frederick was a handful against the Wolves scoring his side’s only goal of the match.
It could be enough to win him a spot in the starting line-up against APIA.
APIA will throw everything at this match so expect plenty of action as they try to keep their finals hopes alive.
Blacktown City v Marconi Stallions, 7.30 pm Friday at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City will hope a grudge match against rivals Marconi Stallions will help inspire them to their best performance of the season when the two sides go head to head on Friday night.
City has struggled since the competition restart and is without a win in four games which has them slumped only one point ahead of bottom side North Shore Mariners.
The Mark Crittenden coached side has not been able to display the hard-nosed performances they are renowned for.
Last week’s 1-0 loss to Rockdale was another frustrating defeat for Blacktown with the spotlight back on their goal-scoring struggles.
Attacking players Leroy Jennings, Dakota Askew, Mario Shabow, Rhett Desilva and Daniel Araujo need to provide more assistance to Charles Mendy in the goal-scoring stakes with the pacy striker’s two goals equating to two-thirds of Blacktown’s offensive output.
Against Marconi, Blacktown faces off against an opponent who won’t be easy to break down.
The Stallions come into this match after a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers last week.
A goal to young gun Lachlan Sepping in the opening minutes put Marconi on the path to a big win, but they were unable to maintain their momentum as the Wanderers fought back to snatch a draw.
It is a result coach Peter Tsekenis wouldn’t have been too happy with, and the pressure will be on them to bounce back against Blacktown.
But if its one thing Tsekenis knows how to do best is getting the best out of his squad.
Martin Fernandez has slowly worked his way back into the game plan with his ability to create opportunities a valuable commodity.
There is no love lost between these two sides so expect a thrilling clash which will have plenty of feeling.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Western Sydney Wanderers, 7 pm Saturday at Popondetta Park
Back to back wins will be on the agenda when Mt Druitt Town Rangers host Western Sydney Wanderers at Popondetta Park on Saturday night.
The Rangers found their form in round four scoring four goals in a memorable 4-3 win against Sydney United 58.
Former Australian Youth international John Roberts found his shooting boots claiming a brace in the win which was Franco Cosentino’s first since taking over as Mt Druitt coach.
While he would’ve been unhappy with conceding three goals, the Rangers boss would’ve been over the moon with how his side’s attack came together.
The Wanderers will also come into the contest full of confidence after a brilliant fightback against Marconi to snag a 1-1 draw last round.
Western Sydney dominated the second half of the match and was unlucky to have come away with more than the draw.
Rory Jordan is in sublime form for the Young Wanderers and will be a player to watch in this contest.
Wanderers A-League regular Tass Mourdoukoutas made his first appearance last week, and his presence in the backline is sure to give the rest of the team a significant boost while look to see the crafty skills of Kostas Grozos on offer alongside defensive unit Dean Pelekanos.
It will also be the final match for coach Arthur Diles who is set to embark on his next coaching journey in Greece.
Expect plenty of goals in this one.
Sydney Olympic v Rockdale Ilinden, 3 pm Sunday at Lambert Park
A shock loss last week will have Sydney Olympic driven towards a bounce-back performance when they take on Rockdale Ilinden at Lambert Park on Sunday.
The top spot will be on the line as two of the competition’s most in-form sides go head to head.
Olympic suffered a 3-2 loss to Manly United in Round 4, their first defeat of the season.
Despite the loss, it was a strong showing from Adam Parkhouse who scored both of Olympic’s goals.
They will hope to return to winning ways against a Rockdale side which are close to the peak of their powers.
The return of Alec Urosevski should strike fear into opposition teams with Rockdale’s already prolific attack adding on of the most dangerous and consistent attacking threats of the past five NPL seasons.
Urosevski proved match-winner last week against Blacktown with a sublime finish and will be the man Sydney Olympic will need to shut down.
This game has the potential to be a blockbuster and is one not to miss between two traditional rivals.
Sydney United 58 v Wollongong Wolves, 3 pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 will be hoping to win their way back into the top five when they host Wollongong Wolves on Sunday.
A shock loss to Mt Druitt in Round 4 ended United 58’s winning streak, but they will be determined to get back on track this week.
Devante Clut and Matthew Bilic were stand out performers last round despite defeat with the silky dribbling duo’s ability to unlock a defence a valuable commodity for the Zeljko Kalac coached side.
How Clut can connect with strikers Michael Ruhs, Adrian Vranic and veteran frontman Mirjan Pavlovic could play a significant role in the outcome of the match.
Their opponents Wollongong are flying high at the top end of the table with three wins from four matches.
A dominant 4-1 win against North Shore Mariners last week helped the Wolves jump into second spot.
Lachlan Scott nabbed a brace in the win, and the former A-League striker will be determined to keep his starting spot ahead of the returning Thomas James.
Veteran defender Nicholas Littler is another player key to the Wolves hopes with his knack for scoring from set-pieces, alongside his composure at the back, which could play a significant factor in the team claiming all three points.
This game is building up to be an exciting contest between two sides in great form.
Sydney FC v Manly United FC, 7 pm Saturday at Cromer Park
Competition surprise packets Sydney FC are flying high in third and will have the top spot on their mind when they take on Manly United on Saturday night at Cromer Park.
The Young Sky Blues have had an answer for everything thrown their way since the season restart and showed their winning edge last week in a 1-0 win against APIA Leichhardt.
Coach Jimmy van Weeren will be all smiles with how his young team have approached the rebooted season and will be pushing them to keep it going over the remaining rounds to nab a historic finals berth.
Goalkeeper Levi Kaye has gone from strength to strength in recent weeks none more so than in the win against APIA.
Kaye made numerous vital stops to keep his side in the contest and hold on for the narrow win.
Looking to get the ball past Kaye will be a Manly United side which rediscovered their scoring touch in a big way during Round 4.
After failing to find the back of the net in their first three games, Manly scored three to notch a 3-2 win against Sydney Olympic in what was Paul Dee’s final match in charge of the Northern Beaches based outfit.
This week will be the first game as coach for former Socceroo and A-League title winner Adam Griffiths.
He will be desperate to keep the goals flowing and will be looking outside the side’s usual stars with young guns Jordan Devries and James Georgaklis showing they may be the key to the clubs scoring woes – while it was a welcome match for Brendan Cholakian last week who broke his goal scoring drought scoring from the spot.
Both teams like to move the ball around at pace, so be prepared for a fast-paced contest that is sure to have fans of both sides on the edge of their seats.