It’s round 8 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition and with only four games remaining the Premiership race is set to go down to the wire.
Sydney Olympic sits on top of the ladder going into this week’s matches, their second-week holding first place, but have only a one-point advantage ahead of Sydney United 58.
Only three points separate first from sixth place setting up an incredible run towards the finals.
The action gets underway on Friday night with two matches as APIA Leichhardt host Mt Druitt and Manly United take on Blacktown City.
On Saturday night, competition newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers will face off against North Shore Mariners at Valentine Sports Park.
Finally three matches on Sunday will wrap up the round including Wollongong against Sydney Olympic, Sydney United 58’s clash with Marconi and finally Sydney FC going head to head with Rockdale.
It’s another massive week of matches and you can catch all the action live on NPL.TV
APIA Leichhardt v Mt Druitt Town Rangers, 7 pm Friday at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt will be determined to claim their first win in over a month when they host Mt Druitt Town Rangers on Friday.
A 4-2 loss to Sydney Olympic in Round 7 was the fourth game in a row without a victory for the reigning champions as they remain slumped only two points ahead of last place.
Despite the defeat last weekend, there was plenty of improvement in the performance from APIA.
After weeks of toil, veteran midfielder Franco Parisi was finally rewarded with a goal against Olympic and coach John Calleja will be hoping it inspires him to bring another big performance against Mt Druitt.
APIA’s young players look up to Parisi and his leadership could be imperative to get the team performing at their best despite their morale-sapping run of poor results.
The club is hoping they can welcome a couple of its injured experienced stars as they look towards bagging their second win of the competition.
Their opponents, Mt Druitt come into the game on the back of a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Marconi Stallions and will also be looking for a return to the winner’s circle.
Jack Stewart has been in fine form this season and could be an influential player if the Rangers are to collect full points from the fixture.
Shot stopper Carlos Saliadarre is another key man for Mt Druitt and the experienced gloveman will need to be at his best to stop the likes of Sean Symons, Jeremy Cox and Chris Payne in the APIA attack.
This will be a tight match with no side standing out as favourites
APIA will be hoping the home ground advantage helps them to Victory, but if they’re not careful the Rangers are more than capable of snatching an upset.
Manly United v Blacktown City, 7.30 pm Friday at Cromer Park
A bounce-back win will be the only thing on the menu for Manly United when they host Blacktown City on Friday night.
Manly suffered a shock loss at the hands of North Shore Mariners last round and will be determined for nothing less than victory against competition cellar dwellers Blacktown City.
Coach Adam Griffiths will be stressing the importance of a fast start and the pressure will be on his attackers Brendan Cholakian, Dejan Pandurevic and Marley Peterson to find an early breakthrough.
Their opponents Blacktown City come into this match after claiming their first points in over a month with a dramatic late draw against Sydney FC.
It’s been a very difficult season for the Mark Crittenden coached team since the restart with Blacktown slumped at the bottom of the table
Attacker Leroy Jennings will be full of confidence after scoring a late equaliser last week and can hopefully provide the firepower his Blacktown side has been lacking so far this season.
Manly will be the favourites at home, however, Blacktown will be worthy opposition and will take any opportunity they can to snatch an upset – a club with a never say die attitude, expect club skipper Matt Lewis and co to give the young Manly United side a huge test as they look towards getting off the foot of the ladder.
Western Sydney Wanderers v North Shore Mariners, 7 pm Sunday at Valentine Sports Park
The newcomers to the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition on Saturday as Western Sydney Wanderers host North Shore Mariners at Valentine Sports Park.
While finals football may be out of reach for both sides, there will be no taking it easy with the Wanderers and Mariners both determined to finish the season on a high.
Western Sydney were unlucky in a 4-2 defeat to United 58 last week, but will take plenty of positives from the match including their brilliant start to the game which had their high profile opponents on the back foot.
Rory Jordan and Tass Mourdoukoutas both found the back of the net last week and will be again central to the Wanderers hopes against the Mariners.
The Mariners come into the match after a sensational 2-0 win against Manly in Round seven.
It stretched the Joe Haywood coached team’s undefeated streak to three games with the Northbridge based side showing plenty of improvement from their early-season struggles playing some organised football that has made them one tough team to beat.
Mitch Smith and Lawrence Frederick have led the scoring for the Mariners with two and three goals respectively.
The pair will need to add to their tally if North Shore make it back to back wins.
Both teams play an exciting brand of football and it is building up to be a thrilling contest between the league’s newest teams.
Wollongong Wolves v Sydney Olympic, 2.30 pm Sunday at Albert Butler Memorial Park
Wollongong Wolves will be determined to stay in the Premiership race with a win against Sydney Olympic at Albert Butler Memorial Park on Sunday.
Defeat last week to Rockdale meant the Wolves dropped to sixth on the ladder, four points behind Olympic at the top of the table.
Sunday’s match will give the reigning premiers a chance to cut the deficit to only one point.
Wolves coach Luke Wilkshire will be buoyed by returning striker Thomas James finding the net against Rockdale with the hope the English born marksman can rediscover his golden boot form for the run home.
They will be without defensive leader Nick Littler who was sent off in Round seven and serves his one-match suspension this week.
Standing in Wollongong’s way is a Sydney Olympic team edging closer to the peak of their powers.
A free-scoring performance in a 4-2 win against APIA Leichhardt in Round seven showed what the Ante Juric team is capable of when the make the most of their chances.
Attacking stars Charles Lokolingoy and Adam Parkhouse both scored a brace against APIA and are in incredible touch heading into the final weeks of the regular season.
Without Littler, Wollongong will have an almighty task ahead of them if they are to stop Olympic’s star-studded front three.
However, Wolves have plenty of big-name talent of their own and with the home ground advantage will be ready for a fight, but beware, Olympic have been on fire in 2020.
Sydney United 58 v Marconi Stallions, 3 pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
A historic rivalry will be renewed on Sunday as Sydney United 58 takes on Marconi Stallions at Sydney United Sports Centre.
However, much more than just bragging rights will be on the line with both United 58 and the Stallions in a tight battle for the premiership with only four games remaining in the regular season.
United 58 have found their stride in recent weeks and, after a 4-2 win against Western Sydney Wanderers last round, are only one point behind ladder leaders Sydney Olympic.
The incredible form of The Red’s veteran stars is sure to scare opposition sides while Patrick Antelmi is scoring for fun since his return to the squad after his stint with A-League outfit Western United.
In only his third game as United 58 coach, Anthony Crea will be determined to keep his side firing on all cylinders over the final few weeks of the shortened reboot season and for the finals.
Looking to stop United 58’s momentum will be the fourth-placed Marconi Stallions who are determined to close the three-point gap between them and first place on the ladder.
Marconi is blessed with a deep squad in all positions, with their big-name stars also in fine fettle.
Martin Fernandez has become one of the most dangerous game-breakers in the NPL NSW Men’s competition with his ability to change a match in an instant with a moment of magic.
On equal standing is veteran Mitch Mallia who put in one of the most complete attacking performances in the first half of Marconi’s round six match.
With so much firepower on each side of the pitch, this match is sure to be an absolute blockbuster and one not to miss.
Sydney FC v Rockdale Ilinden, 6.30 pm Sunday at Ilinden Sports Centre
Sydney FC will be determined to keep their Premiership challenge alive when they take on Rockdale Ilinden on Sunday.
A loss and a draw in their last two matches have meant the one-time competition leading Young Sky Blues are now in fifth place, three points behind Sydney Olympic at the top of the table.
Sydney coach Jim van Weeran faces an almighty task to help his youthful side discover a second wind through the final four games of the campaign.
One player who will be central to Sydney FC is striker Patrick Wood.
Wood has been in incredible form this season scoring eight goals in seven matches this season as well as providing a handful of assists.
He will be up against the league’s best defence with Rockdale only conceding four goals this season including an incredible run of five clean sheets.
Rockdale have been in brilliant form this season and showed what they are capable of in an impressive 3-1 win against Wollongong last weekend.
Japanese midfielder Tomoki Wada had his best game of the season scoring two goals including a sensational free-kick from the edge of the box.
Coach Steven Zoric has helped Rockdale discover improved consistency with their performances and they will need to display that again this week if they are to beat Sydney FC.
Nothing less than a win will be enough for either side with every competition point vital with so few games left in the season.