Round 18 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition is here and there is sure to be plenty of action as the race to the finals heats up.
Sutherland Sharks v Sydney FC, 3.30pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw
Both the Sutherland Sharks and Sydney FC will be fighting to lift off the bottom of the ladder in this clash on Saturday afternoon.
After added-time heartbreak for both teams in Round 17, they will both be looking to prove they can see out the game without any unwelcome surprises.
A 92nd minute goal from Blacktown City’s Travis Major last week was the cause of Sutherland’s pain after the Sharks clawed their way back from a two-goal deficit in the second half through a Peter Simonoski double.
They will be looking to build on the return to strong form of Simonoski, along with the dangerous pace of James Andrew to wreak havoc on the young Sky Blues.
A 94th minute equalizer from Manly United’s Scott Balderson left Sydney FC with just one point from Round 17. After also falling victim to a late goal in Round 16 at the hands of Sydney Olympic, Jim Van Weeren’s men will be looking to put on a strong defensive display, while using their attacking prowess to get maximum points from the match.
Young gun Jake Girdwood-Reich, sporting one of the finest mullet hairstyles in the NPL NSW Men’s competition, was a stand-out for the young Sky Blues in Sunday’s match and will be one to watch as they square up against the Sharks.
Marconi Stallions v APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 6.00pm Saturday at Marconi Stadium POSTPONED
It will be a huge clash at Marconi Stadium on Saturday night as the Marconi Stallions face up against the APIA Leichhardt Tigers in what’s been dubbed the ‘Classico D’Italia’. The three points up for grabs in the clash will be crucial to both teams as they cling to the chance of playing finals football in 2021.
Marconi Stallions recorded just their third win of the season last round against the Wollongong Wolves and will be looking to continue with their winning ways after recording an incredible ten draws this season. A penalty from captain Marko Jesic was enough to claim victory for Marconi in Round 17, but Peter Tsekenis’ men will be looking for more this week as they return home.
Mitch Mallia, Chris Hatfield and Anthony Frangie all pose dangerous attacking threats for the Stallions, while the strength and experience of Marconi’s defensive line will be on display after keeping Wollongong goalless in Round 17.
A missed penalty from club captain Sean Symons and letting in a late goal from Rockdale’s Alec Urosevski in Round 17 will serve as plenty of motivation for APIA to come out firing and make a strong finals push as the season comes to a close.
After playing a mid-week Waratah Cup Elimination Final in Wollongong on Wednesday night, APIA will be hoping that they will still have petrol left in the tank to back up for the Saturday night clash.
The trio of young guns Peter Kekeris, Will Mutch and Matthieu Cordier could be the energy the visitors will look towards for the much needed three points.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Blacktown City, 7.00pm Saturday at Popondetta Park POSTPONED
Blacktown City will be hunting for three points away from home to continue to distance themselves at the top of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition in their Round 18 clash with Mt Druitt Town Rangers.
This game will also act as the second leg of the Mayoral Cup so bragging rights will be at stake.
An added-time winner from one of the NPL NSW Men’s finest stars Travis Major in Round 17 will surely have Mark Crittenden’s men full of confidence heading into the clash at Popondetta Park. Their incredibly strong defensive force, combined with the attacking prowess of Major, Mario Shabow and Sean Rooney will be a big challenge for Stewart Montgomery’s men.
Coming off a narrow 1-0 win against Sydney Olympic that keeps their finals hopes alive, Mt Druitt will be hoping that Jack Stewart can continue to knock goals home after already successfully securing nine so far this season.
Carlos Saliadarre will also be a huge source of strength in goals for the Rangers, while Travis Oughtred and Blake Thompson will be crucial in defence.
Mount Druitt have already proven they are capable of defeating Blacktown City this season, after recording a 1-0 victory in their Round 7 match, but it will certainly be a tougher feat in Round 18.
Wollongong Wolves v Sydney United 58, 2.30pm Sunday at Albert Butler Memorial Park – POSTPONED
Sydney United 58 will be chasing an incredibly valuable three points in Wollongong on Sunday afternoon as they look to catch up to Blacktown City at the top of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s ladder.
An unlikely 1-1 draw to Northbridge Bulls will have United 58 hungry as they go up against the Wollongong Wolves, who will be looking to regroup after a 1-0 loss to the Marconi Stallions and a Wednesday night Waratah Cup Elimination Final against the APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
With 14 goals to his name so far this season, Sydney United 58’s Patrick Antelmi will be looking to add a few more to his tally to break ahead of Blacktown City’s Travis Major and Rockdale Ilinden’s Alec Urosevski for this season’s golden boot.
The Wolves’ Lachlan Scott and Leroy Jennings have six goals each so far this season and will be at the helm of Luke Wilkshire’s attacking strategy.
Wilkshire, who has used over 20 different players this year, will be firing his chargers up for a big game.
Just three points behind fifth position, this will be a crucial game for Wollongong as they fight for finals football.
After a 0-0 draw in the last match-up between these two teams, will one be able to come out ahead on Sunday?
Rockdale Ilinden FC v Northbridge Bulls, 3.00pm Sunday at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre
Third-placed Rockdale Ilinden returned to winning ways in Round 17 after struggling through five matches without a win, and Steve Zoric’s men will be looking to continue to build momentum against Northbridge Bulls.
Alec Urosevski has proven he is a force to be reckoned with for Rockdale, netting 12 goals so far this season, while Mitchell Stamatellis was a huge source of strength in defence last week after sitting out a few weeks due to injury.
David Bradasevic has also proven his worth between the sticks for Rockdale and will prove to be a headache for Northbridge’s attacking efforts.
Rory Jordan will be one to watch for Norhbridge, after continuing to impress with his high-calibre playmaking skills throughout the season so far. The addition of Kyle Cimenti has been great for the Bulls and he will surely be looking to impress against his former club on Sunday afternoon.
Rockdale Ilinden managed a 1-0 victory over Northbridge the last time they met; will they be able to do it again?
Sydney Olympic FC v Manly United FC, 4.00pm at Belmore Sportsground POSTPONED
One of the biggest match-ups of the round will take place at Belmore Sportsground this week as fifth-placed Sydney Olympic take on fourth-placed Manly United.
With both teams sitting on the edge of the top five, the three points up for grabs would see Manly United break clear of the rest of the pack, while it would allow Olympic to stay competitive in the finals race.
Manly United, under the leadership of Adam Griffiths, have continued to prove they are a force to be reckoned with throughout the season as former Olympic player Luka Kmet looks to cause pain for the hosts, while Dejan Pandurevic has been their most successful attacker this season and will put pressure on Olympic’s defensive line.
Brendan Cholakian will face up against his former club and will surely be fired up and dangerous in the midfield. Jason Madonis and Mo Adam have been the most clinical for Olympic’s attack this season and will be ones to watch in the clash.
It’s set to be a great match-up between these two teams and is a must-see for NPL fans this week.