The National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition is set to go down to the wire after a thrilling week of Round 10 action setting up a three-way sprint to the title.
The penultimate week of the competition lived up to expectation delivering plenty of twists and turns.
Rockdale Ilinden clung onto top spot with 21 points ahead of the final matchday next week but have Wollongong Wolves and Sydney Olympic hot on their tail.
Sydney United 58’s premiership hopes took a major tumble this week with a costly draw.
The week’s other games also had plenty of surprises with huge wins for North Shore Mariners and Blacktown City.
With a top 4 finals series up for grabs round 11 looks huge but lets look at what unfolded in round 10.
Manly United 1 (Pandurevic 55’) – Mt Druitt Town Rangers 0 at Cromer Park
A second-half strike from Dejan Pandurevic has helped Manly United snatch a narrow 1-0 win against Mt Druitt Town Rangers at Cromer Park.
The star winger’s finish was the difference as the home side did just enough to claim all three points in a thrilling end to end contest.
Manly started the stronger of the two sides creating a handful of chances which were spoiled by the brilliant shot-stopping of Mt Druitt keeper Carlos Saliadarre.
Manly defender Sam Gallagher nearly broke the deadlock 10 minutes before the break but his header crashed off the woodwork with the game going into halftime locked scoreless.
It was much of the same after the restart as Manly went on the offensive.
Saliadarre pulled off a spectacular diving save to tip a Kieran Paull effort over the crossbar only moments into the second stanza.
In the 55th minute, Manly finally found their breakthrough when Pandurevic broke free of his defender on the right-wing before firing low into the bottom corner of the net.
Richie Cardozo had two chances to add to the score later in the match but the experienced frontman was unable to find the back of the net.
The boys from the Northern Beaches were not troubled in the dying stages of the match clinging on for victory and all three points.
Blacktown City 3 (Berry 56’, 85’, Jalloh 62’) – APIA Leichhardt 0 at Lily’s Football Stadium
A three-goal second half has helped Blacktown City cruise to a dominant 3-0 win against APIA Leichhardt at Lily’s Football Stadium on Friday.
A brace from Adam Berry and a brilliant finish from Hassan Jalloh was the difference as Blacktown made it two wins on the trot.
It was an even opening to the contest with APIA’s Tynan Diaz testing the Blacktown keeper early.
Luke Turnbull was called into action at the other end midway through the first half to deny Rhett Desilva.
Neither side was able to make the most of the changes in the opening 45 minutes as the match remained scoreless at the break.
However, it didn’t take long for Blacktown to open the scoring after the restart as Berry nailed a sublime free-kick which sailed over the wall and into the top corner to make it 1-0 in the 55th minute.
Blacktown had found their groove and were able to double their lead moments later when Jalloh rounded the keeper to net his side’s second goal of the clash.
Berry wrapped up the result with a clinical finish from the left-hand side of the penalty area in the 86th minute to make it 3-0 and wrap up all three competition points.
Marconi Stallions 1 (Jesic 85’) – North Shore Mariners 3 (Williams 40’, Lindsay 68’, Pyl 81’) at Marconi Stadium.
North Shore Mariners have caused one of the boilovers of the season stunning Marconi Stallions 3-1 at Marconi Stadium on Friday.
The result has thrown the Stallion’s finals hopes into disarray in what was a wild night at The Palace.
From the opening whistle, the Mariners were on the front foot testing Nenad Vekic in the Marconi goal.
The game was forced into an untimely hiatus midway through the first stanza with the floodlights going out and the match put on hold for more than 20 minutes.
The break recharged the Mariners who struck almost instantly after the match resumed courtesy of a slick finish from Charles Williams to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at the half-time break.
Mariners captain Chris Lindsay continued his push to be known as the leagues best free-kick taker when he scored with a delightful curling effort to make it 2-0 in the 68th minute.
North Shore wrapped up the win in audacious style 10 minutes from full-time when substitute Nelson Pyl chipped the keeper from 35 yards out only moments after coming on.
Marko Jesic claimed a late goal for Marconi but it was too little too late for the home side as the visitors secured all three points.
Sydney Olympic 1 (Madonis 68’) – Western Sydney Wanderers 0 at Lambert Park
Sydney Olympic has kept their premiership hopes alive with a narrow 1-0 win against Western Sydney Wanderers at Lambert Park on Saturday.
A second-half strike from captain Jason Madonis was enough for Olympic as they secured a vital three competition points.
It was the Wanderers who were on the ascendency early on with several early shots on goal testing the keeper.
The visitors were forced to clear off the line to deny Zach Mackenzie in the 25th minute.
Dean Pelakanos missed a brilliant chance to give Western Sydney the lead in the dying stages of the first half when he fired over the bar from only nine yards out.
It was the Wanderers on the attack again when the second half began, with Rory Jordan unable to beat the keeper in the 56th minute.
After absorbing pressure for most of the match, Olympic took their chance in the 68th minute with Madonis scoring from the edge of the penalty area to cap off a brilliant counter-attack.
Oliver Puflett had a chance to double Olympic’s lead in the final minutes of the contest but fired wide.
It didn’t matter in the end with the home side clinging on to take the win and remain in the premiership race going into the final round.
Sydney United 58 2 (Antelmi 33’, 66’) – Rockdale Ilinden 2 (Gauthier 68’, Wada 88’) at Sydney United Sports Centre
A thrilling second-half fightback has helped Rockdale snatch a dramatic 2-2 draw against fierce rivals Sydney United 58 at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday.
Tomoki Wada’s 88th-minute penalty broke the hearts of United 58 fans and kept Rockdale on top of the table and in the hunt for a historic NPL NSW Men’s Premiership going into the final round.
For United 58, the result all but kills their dreams of finishing the season on top.
The home side started the better of the two and took the lead 33 minutes in with superstar striker Patrick Antelmi converting from the penalty spot to give United 58 a 1-0 lead at the break.
Antelmi would be the dangerman again for the home side after the restart when he fired the Reds into a 2-0 lead in the 66th minute with his ninth goal of the campaign and second of the match.
However, the tide would turn only moments later with Amaury Gauthier making the most of a defensive mixup to halve the deficit with a cool finish from inside the box to make it 2-1.
Both sides were desperate for victory and fought hard for every possession heading into the final moments of the match.
With the game on a knife’s edge, a boneheaded play from Sydney United’s Anthony Tomelic cost his side greatly, giving up a crucial penalty by pulling down Gauthier in the box when the striker had no chance of getting to the ball.
Wada stepped up and clinically fired past the keeper to make it 2-2, completing the comeback as they snatched a vital competition point to keep them in the Premiership race.
Sydney FC 3 (Wood 63’, 93’, Main 88’) – Wollongong Wolves 4 (Bingham 4’, 21’, James 8’, Okada 57’) at Ilinden Sports Centre
Wollongong Wolves have held off a fast-finishing Sydney FC to triumph 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday.
The Wolves took a four-goal lead but they were forced to fight for their competition points as determined Sydney FC fell narrowly short of pulling off a wild second-half comeback.
The win moves the Wolves onto equal points with competition leaders Rockdale ahead of the final round of the season setting up an incredible sprint to the premiership on the last day of the season.
Wollongong raced out of the gates and took a 1-0 lead after only four minutes with Josh Bingham tapping home after some brilliant lead-up work from Takeru Okada.
It was 2-0 only moments later with Thomas James towering above his defender to head into the top right corner of the net.
Sydney FC’s young defence were struggling and it only got worse with Bingham claiming his second to make it 3-0 in the 21st minute.
The start couldn’t have been any better for the visitors and they were unlucky not to score again before the half-time break.
It took Wollongong 10 minutes after the restart to find a fourth goal and wasn’t it special.
Okada dribbling past two defenders and finishing with the outside of his weak foot after setting up the move with a skilful scorpion kick flick-on.
The result was seemingly decided, but Sydney FC had other ideas and hit back through prolific striker Patrick Wood in the 63rd minute to make it 4-1.
Sydney threw everything forward and snagged their second goal to make it 4-2 courtesy of Thomas Main with two minutes left on the clock.
When Wood found his second in added time to make it 4-3 it made for a nervy finish for the visitors.
However, time was against the home side with their valiant efforts not enough to secure a draw with Wollongong clinging on for victory.