Round 17 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition has arrived and it is set to be another massive weekend of football action.
The race for the Premiership is heating up with competition leaders Blacktown City and second-placed Sydney United 58 neck and neck with only six matches to go.
The battle for a spot in the top five and finals football is also set to go down to the wire with every point vital at this point of the campaign.
It will be a super Sunday of games this week with all six matches to take place on Sunday.
In the early slate of games from 3 pm Wollongong plays host to Marconi, APIA is at home to Rockdale, Blacktown gets a visit from Sutherland and Northbridge go head-to-head with Sydney United 58.
Sydney Olympic will be fighting for all three points against Mt Druitt in the late afternoon fixture, while Sydney FC takes on Manly United in the last match of the round on Sunday night.
Remember you can catch all the action from every game live on NPL.TV
Wollongong Wolves v Marconi Stallions, 2.30pm Sunday at Albert Butler Memorial Park
Wollongong Wolves will be fighting to keep their playoffs hopes alive when they host Marconi Stallions at Albert Butler Memorial Park on Sunday.
The Wolves powered back into winning form with a 3-2 victory against Northbridge Bulls last week to move only two points outside the top five.
Back on the familiar turf of Albert Butler Memorial Park, the Luke Wilkshire coached outfit will need to collect another three points to keep pace with their rivals.
Leroy Jennings was in inspired form in that win against the Bulls scoring a brace and laying on an assist.
It was the type of performance Wolves fans expect to see from their star recruit and he will need to be at his best over the final weeks of the season to give Wollongong the best hope of a top-five finish.
At the other end of the park, shot-stopper Hayden Durose is another player in fine fettle and will be a crucial piece of the puzzle against a dangerous Marconi outfit. The keeper has been in outstanding form thus far and is definitely a contender for Goalkeeper of the Year.
The Stallions come into this contest on the back of a narrow 1-0 loss to their local rivals Sydney United 58.
A lack of a winning edge has been the main story for Marconi this season with the Peter Tsekenis coached side paying out 10 draws so far.
Look to star players such as Mitch Mallia, Marko Jesic and Anthony Frangie to give the side a strong attacking presence as the stallions push for a vital three competition points.
Both sides have had their struggles this season but with finals football on the line, the question is which team will step up?
APIA Leichhardt v Rockdale Ilinden, 3pm Sunday at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt will be desperate to keep their top five hopes alive with a win against Rockdale Ilinden at Lambert Park on Sunday.
APIA was stunned by a late goal in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Manly United last week which put a major dent in the finals aspirations.
Now three points behind fifth-placed Sydney Olympic, the Paul Dee coached APIA know the pressure is on with so few games left.
APIA historically has an incredible record against Rockdale but the tide started to turn last season with Ilinden winning the last three clashes between these two sides.
Josh Symons has led by example since returning from suspension at the back while the likes of talented youngsters Will Mutch and Matthieu Cordier have been a revelation for the squad.
The elusive Peter Kekeris is someone that needs to be guarded closely while Blake Powell has slowly started to hit the back of the net at the right time.
Looking to stop APIA, and also re-ignite their season, is a Rockdale side that comes into this game after they slumped to a 4-2 defeat to Blacktown City.
It has been hard going for Ilinden for the past five weeks. They have lost their last three games and are without a win since round 11 which has been out of sorts for Steve Zoric’s men.
Zoric is desperate to kick his team back into gear after a mid-season stall which continues to get worse and worse as the weeks progress.
Alec Urosevski is the focal point of Rockdale’s attack and he will need to conjure up some magic to guide his side to a much-needed win while the flair and trickery of Japanese import Tomoki Wada will need to be at its very best in undoing a solid APIA back-line.
The visitors will be weary that a midweek FFA Cup Round 7 fixture could play a role in this huge.
This game is one of the fixtures of the round and is set to be a thrilling contest you won’t want to miss.
Blacktown City v Sutherland Sharks, 3pm Sunday at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City will be looking to stretch their lead at the top of the ladder with a big win against the Sutherland Sharks at Lily Homes Stadium on Sunday.
Blacktown are going from strength to strength and cemented their place as competition leaders with a dominant 4-2 win against Rockdale in round 16.
City are undefeated in their past nine games, winning seven of those matches, and will be expecting to stretch that run to ten this weekend.
Central to their chances will be star striker Travis Major who has hit season-best form in recent weeks, demonstrated in last week’s win where he scored a hat-trick and laid on an assist.
Caleb Jackson Brown was given his debut for Blacktown last week and he didn’t disappoint. The rookie will be hoping he is given another chance in the first team against Sutherland. While it was a good performance from another young gun Carlos De Oliviera who has also been in fine form.
The Sharks come into this game with renewed confidence after a brilliant 1-0 win against Mt Druitt last week.
The victory moved them off the bottom of the ladder and coach Nick Dimovski will be pushing his team to continue their climb with a few more wins over the remaining matches this season.
The return of Chris Lindsay proved key to the Sharks win in round 16 with the wide defender’s ability to whip in a cross a major threat.
Oliver Green has been another top performer in recent weeks and will be another player to watch.
Blacktown will be strong favourites for this contest but as has been proven many times this season, anything can happen inside 90 minutes.
Northbridge Bulls v Sydney United 58, 3pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
Northbridge Bulls will be determined for a repeat of their 5-1 thrashing of Sydney United 58 when the two sides face on Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre.
The Bulls suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to Wollongong Wolves last round which was their first defeat in over five weeks.
Northbridge shocked the competition back in round six when they dismantled the then competition leaders and coach Mile Sterjovski will surely be using that performance to inspire his troops this time around.
Rory Jordan has been one of the Bulls’ stand out performers this year and the attacker will be a handful for the United 58 defence.
Bul Juach is another player to watch out for and comes into this game on the back of a strong display in round 16.
United 58 will be out for revenge in this game with that embarrassing round six defeat surely not forgotten by coach Tomi Vidovic and his squad.
Sydney United 58 are in second place on the competition ladder, two points behind Blacktown City, and need a win to stay in the premiership race.
Tariq Maia scored a thrilling late winner for United 58 last week as they snatched a 1-0 win against Marconi.
Defender Adrian Vlastelica was a beast in the backline during that victory and will need to step up again to stop Northbridge’s free-scoring attack while the club is hoping to have Matt Sim back from injury.
This game will mean a lot for United 58 but if they’re not careful the Bulls have shown what they’re capable of.
Don’t miss this clash which could have a big say in the race for the premiership.
Sydney Olympic v Mt Druitt Town Rangers, 4pm Sunday at Belmore Sports Ground
Three competition points will be the goal for Sydney Olympic as they look to cement their place in the top five with a win against Mt Druitt Town Rangers this Sunday at Belmore Sports Ground.
Olympic has been in fine touch over the past month with two wins and no losses from their past four games.
A 1-0 win against Sydney FC last week has them full of confidence coming into this clash.
While substitute striker Yu Hasegawa scored late to snatch the win, it was shot-stopper Nicholas Sorras who was the true hero for Olympic.
Sorras delivered arguably his best performance of the season which is sure to give plenty of confidence to coach Ante Juric and the Olympic defence as they prepare to face a dangerous Mt Druitt attack.
Michael Glassock was another who is in good form so expect another strong showing this weekend.
The Rangers come into this clash needing a win to stop their slim finals hopes from slipping away.
Four defeats from their past five games has Mt Druitt clinging on in eighth place. Four points behind fifth-placed Olympic.
A 1-0 loss last week to Sutherland was the latest blow for the Rangers as their second-half of the season struggles threaten to derail their campaign.
Jack Stewart was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet against the Sharks and will be fighting to find the back of the net in this game.
This is a big game for Mt Druitt so expect a huge performance from them.
Olympic will be favourites at home but don’t write off the Rangers with their season on the line.
Both will be backing up from midweek Round 7 FFA Cup matches so expect some tired legs out there on Sunday.
Sydney FC v Manly United, 6.30pm Sunday at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre
Sydney FC will be looking to move off the bottom of the ladder with a win against Manly United on Sunday night at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre.
The Young Sky Blues suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Sydney Olympic after conceding deep in added time.
Despite the loss, Sydney FC has shown improvement in recent weeks and coach Jim van Weeren will want to inspire his troops to a much-needed win.
Cameron Fong starred last week and made a brilliant goal-line save to keep his side in the contest.
Another player who has impressed recently has been Thomas Fay who has been a solid presence in the middle of the park over the past few weeks.
Van Weeren will need all his players to step up this week if they are to take home the three points.
They will be up against a Manly United side flying high in third position on the ladder.
Manly snatched a late victory against APIA in round 16 to make it back-to-back wins for the Northern Beaches club.
Coach Adam Griffiths has his Manly side firing on all cylinders and made them one of the toughest teams to beat, especially at their Cromer Park home ground.
While they won’t have the comforts of home this week, Manly will be just as much of a handful.
Luka Kmet and Jordan Devries were on the scoresheet last week with the young attackers continuing their recent form.
Goalkeeper Sam Benton suffered an injury last week and could face time on the sideline with youngster Jacob Madden stepping in.
Manly will be favourites for this match as they look to continue their climb up the competition ladder.