With it still tight at both ends of the table in the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition, the following weeks take on increased importance as teams look to break away from the pack.
Here’s the outlook for round seven.
NWS Spirit FC v Manly United FC
5:30 pm, Saturday 18 March, Christie Park
NWS Spirit host Manly United at Christie Park on Saturday to start the round, looking for their first win since round three.
Spirit were held to a 0-0 draw with Mount Druitt Town Rangers last Friday night with the side left frustrated by several missed opportunities in the match.
The result sees David Perkovic’s team winless and without a goal in their last three matches and after their shock victory over Blacktown City in Round 3, need to get back to winning ways.
It shapes up as a must-win game for the side this weekend, however, they face a Manly team buoyed by a vital win in round six.
United got up 2-0 against an in-form St George City team with a wonder goal from Dominic Ferguson and Matthew Sim each scoring in what was only the team’s second win of the year.
Coach Patrick Zwaanswijk will be keen for his team to carry on this momentum this weekend by making it back-to-back victories in the competition for the first time this season.
A victory for Manly would take them above their opponents and towards the top places if other results go their way.
It’s an important match for these teams on Saturday with three points a must for both.
APIA Leichhardt FC v Bulls FC Academy
5:45 pm, Saturday 18 March, Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt take on Bulls FC Academy on Saturday at Lambert Park looking to continue their unbeaten run in the 2023 NPL NSW competition.
Jack Stewart’s goal in the final eleven minutes was enough to ensure APIA edged past Sutherland Sharks 1-0 in round six.
Franco Parisi’s team are six games unbeaten in 2023 having not conceded a goal since round three.
The Bulls went down in a narrow 1-0 defeat against Sydney United 58 last weekend in a competitive showing from the side.
Zeljko Kalac’s side remain at the foot of the table, still without a win in the 2023 NPL NSW.
Despite this season’s form, the Bulls can look to last season’s results against APIA as they went unbeaten across the two meetings.
The side scored a stoppage-time equaliser in a round eight 3-3 draw before earning a 2-0 win towards the end of 2022.
With the teams immediately above Bulls FC Academy still within a win of the side, a victory could see them rise off the bottom of the table.
APIA Leichhardt’s early form sees them go into this match as favourites, and it will be a tough task for the Bulls this Saturday.
Marconi Stallions FC v Sutherland Sharks FC
7:00 pm, Saturday 18 March, Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions and Sutherland Sharks go head-to-head at Marconi Stadium on Saturday.
The Stallions picked up their first win since round three getting up 2-0 against Blacktown City last weekend.
Two first-half goals from Hiroaki Aoyama and Jordan Swibel did the damage for Peter Tsekenis’ team who moved into fourth with that victory.
After just three wins from their opening six games, the side will want to ensure another positive result this weekend to keep pace with the top of the competition.
They’ve also tightened in the back as they’ve kept two clean sheets thanks to the return of Roberto Speranza.
Sutherland fell to their second defeat in a row last Saturday going down 1-0 to APIA Leichhardt.
The Sharks have now failed to score in their past two fixtures and sit second last going into this weekend.
Coach Damir Prodanovic will want to create some breathing room between his side and the rest of the pack at the bottom, but to do so, they’ll need to overturn last season’s form against Marconi.
The Stallions got the better of Sutherland in 2022 winning both clashes courtesy of a 3-2 win in round one and a 2-1 victory in round twelve.
Marconi will be intent on continuing their assent up the table this weekend although it may be difficult against a Sutherland team who have been a challenge to face this year.
St George City FA v Wollongong Wolves FC
7:00 pm, Saturday 18 March, Penshurst Park
Wollongong Wolves travel to Penshurst Park on Saturday to face St George City with both teams keen to return to the winner’s circle.
The Wolves continued their inconsistent start to 2023 going down 3-1 in Rockdale Ilinden over the weekend.
Three goals in the first half were too much for the side to overcome with Mirza Muratovic’s goal for the side late in the second half a mere consolation.
David Carney’s team have won only two of their opening six games with just a solitary win since round two.
Wollongong will be desperate for three points this weekend, however, their opponents have already knocked off some of the competition’s favourites this campaign.
St George went down 2-0 to Manly United last Saturday in what was their second defeat of the season.
It ends a four-game unbeaten run including victories over NPL NSW powerhouses Marconi Stallions and Sydney Olympic.
The sides are separated by just two points heading into this one with the Wolves sitting in tenth, while St George are in sixth and five points behind the top of the table.
St George will hope to cause another giant slaying on Saturday, but the Wolves will be up for it after last week’s disappointment.
Blacktown City FC v Sydney Olympic FC
7:00 pm, Sunday 19 March, Landen Park
The reigning champions play the reigning premiers on Sunday as Blacktown City take on Sydney Olympic at Landen Park.
Blacktown failed to make it three wins on the bounce in round six suffering a 2-0 loss to Marconi Stallions.
Conceding two first-half goals including one on the stroke of halftime, proved too much for the side to overcome as they slipped to fifth on the table.
It’s another big game for Mark Crittenden’s team this weekend against a faltering Sydney Olympic outfit.
Olympic lost their third match in a row last Saturday going down 3-2 to Western Sydney Wanderers and for such a big club pressure is slowly mounting on the team getting back to winning matches.
The side came from two goals down in the first half but were unable to push on as the Wanderers claimed a shock win.
Coach Labinot Haliti will also be without Michael Neill after he received his marching orders following two yellow cards in that round-six clash.
Olympic had a perfect record against Blacktown in the 2022 regular season winning both games but losing out on penalties in their finals series encounter.
Striker Roy O’Donovan scored four goals against City last season and has been scoring freely again in 2023 so he’ll be one to watch if on the park.
There was only a point between these teams on the table last season and there’s only a point between them after six rounds this time around.
It’s set to be an exciting clash between these two NPL NSW giants with not much between them ahead of Sunday.
Rockdale Ilinden FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 19 March, Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale Ilinden will pursue a fifth successive win on Sunday against a rejuvenated Western Sydney Wanderers team at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre.
A first-half blitz from Ilinden against Wollongong Wolves in round six guided the side to well-earned three points on the South Coast.
Jaden Casella scored twice on his birthday before leading NPL NSW Men’s goalscorer Alec Urosevski bagged his eighth of the campaign for Rockdale.
Coach Paul Dee will be intent on his team winning again this weekend, but they face a Western Sydney side coming off a big victory.
The Wanderers returned to winning ways in style, knocking off reigning premiers Sydney Olympic 3-2 over the weekend.
Jarrod Carluccio and Ariath Piol sent the side into a two-goal lead, but it was all square by halftime.
Nathanael Blair fired home the winner later in the second half to make it an historic win for the young Wanderers.
It snapped a four-game losing streak for Andrew Christiansen’s team, pushing the side four points clear of last place.
The side face another difficult challenge this weekend against a high-flying Rockdale, but they have already put in strong showings against some of the competition’s title hopefuls.
A lot will depend also on which players from the senior A-League Wanderers squad will be dropped to the NPL side following the Sydney Derby that could make this tie even more exciting.
Rockdale will be favourites for this one, however, the Wanderers are more than capable of pulling off an upset.
Central Coast Mariners FC v Mount Druitt Town Rangers FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 19 March, Pluim Park
Central Coast Mariners and Mount Druitt Town Rangers face off on Sunday at Pluim Park looking to put difficult starts to the season behind them.
Central Coast couldn’t get their second win of the campaign in round six going down to a late 3-1 defeat against Sydney FC.
Sasha Kuzevski’s goal with seven minutes to play in the first half saw the side go into the break level.
However, the Mariners copped two goals in the final ten minutes condemning the side to their third loss of the season.
Mount Druitt shared the points in a 0-0 stalemate with NWS Spirit last Friday night, accumulating their fourth point of the season.
Coach Stewart Montgomery will have to shuffle his backline for this Sunday with central defender Nikola Djordjevic who will be suspended following his red card against Spirit.
A win for the Rangers would take them ahead of Central Coast on the table and if results go their way, further ahead of the bottom places.
The side’s only win of the campaign so far came against another A-League Men’s academy outfit Bulls FC Academy.
It’s a crucial clash between these two teams on Sunday with three points offering a chance to move away from the bottom of the table.
Sydney United 58 FC v Sydney FC
5:00 pm, Sunday 19 March, Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 host Sydney FC at Sydney United Sports Centre in an exciting match on Sunday to finish the round.
The hosts remained at the summit of the competition for another week edging past Bulls FC Academy 1-0 in round six.
Veteran midfielder Glen Trifiro scored the winning goal just after the hour mark to help record the team’s third successive victory.
Sydney FC also come into this game off the back of a win downing Central Coast Mariners 3-1 last Sunday.
Alen Harbas made it braces in back-to-back matches before Mitchell Glasson added a third for the young Sky Blues.
After three defeats in a row, Jimmy van Weeren’s team have now won two on the bounce and will want to win again with a chance to push their way up the table.
Each team claimed a win in this fixture last season with United suffering a 6-1 battering at the hands of Sydney FC before Miro Vlastelica’s team snatched a 1-0 win later in the season.
These teams were separated by only three points last season and with both picking up some form early on in 2023, it sets up a big match this Sunday.
Preview by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_