Defeats at the top of the table have given one team the advantage in the title race while the relegation battle remains as tight as ever.
Here’s what to expect in round 22 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s.
Sydney FC v Sydney United 58 FC
7:30 pm, Friday 30 June, Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United Sports Centre plays host to an intriguing clash between Sydney FC and Sydney United 58 on Friday night.
Sydney FC were beaten 2-1 by Central Coast Mariners last weekend which was their eighth defeat of 2023.
They dropped to fifth after that result they could drop towards the middle of the table if they fail to win again this weekend.
Sydney United 58 are too struggling for form currently as they drew 0-0 with bottom side Bulls FC Academy.
With a solitary win in their past five, the side have fallen into the bottom half of the competition.
In those past five match weeks, Miro Vlastelica’s men have failed to beat any of the bottom four sides.
It was tight between these teams back in round seven with Sydney FC snatching the points courtesy of a last-minute goal.
However, if United claim victory this weekend, they would go to just a point behind their opponents.
It’s set to be a close encounter between these teams on Friday night as they both aim to secure places higher up the table as the season draws to a close.
Wollongong Wolves v St George City
7:30 pm, Friday 30 June, Albert Butler Memorial Park
Wollongong Wolves welcome St George City to Albert Butler Memorial Park on Friday night seeking to build on their best form of the season.
The Wolves blew Rockdale Ilinden away last weekend with a convincing 4-0 battering of the aspiring premiership side.
It was the usual scorers for the team as striker duo Lachlan Scott and Jake Trew both scored, while Christopher McStay and Takumi Ofuka also got in on the action.
Wollongong jumped to eighth after that win and could go just a point behind their opponents with a win in round 22.
City snatched a point against Manly United with a stoppage-time goal last Saturday.
Substitute Presley Ortiz fired home the important goal for St George which prevented them from going scoreless for three matches in a row.
They’ve dropped down to sixth after that result and risk dropping further if they fail to win again this time.
It was a thrilling encounter between these two in round seven as St George prevailed 5-3 against the Wolves at Penhurst Park.
This should be an exciting watch on Friday night as both teams have not been shy of goals in 2023.
Bulls FC Academy v APIA Leichhardt FC
3:00 pm, Saturday 1 July, Sydney United Sports Centre
Bulls FC Academy face a tough task against APIA Leichhardt at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday looking to build on two positive draws in a row.
The Bulls managed to hold out Sydney United to a 0-0 stalemate in round 21 which was their second successive draw against a tough opponent.
They moved nine points away from safety as the other teams at the bottom also continue to struggle to pick up points.
APIA secured a vital three points in their fight for the premiership edging past Sutherland Sharks 1-0 last weekend.
Yianni Nicolaou netted early in the second half to earn the league leaders’ first win since round 18.
Currently, three points clear at the top, losses to the two teams immediately below them have given APIA a big chance to take out the title.
They face the bottom two teams in the next couple of weeks and also have a game in hand against Mount Druitt on the horizon.
With 10 games to go, Franco Parisi’s team controls their own destiny in the pursuit of NPL NSW Men’s glory.
Sydney Olympic FC v Blacktown City FC
4:00 pm, Saturday 1 July, Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic play Blacktown City on Saturday at Belmore Sports Ground in another crucial game for the teams.
Olympic managed to grab a 3-1 win against Western Sydney Wanderers last Saturday which was their first win since round 15.
Michael Vakis gave Olympic an early lead before the side conceded in the 82nd minute.
Experienced former A-League Men’s attackers Fabio Ferreira and Roy O’Donovan each scored in what remained to rescue the points.
It’s pushed Labinot Haliti’s men eight points clear of the relegation places and only three points away from the top half of the competition.
Blacktown made it three straight wins as they beat second-placed Marconi Stallions 3-1 last Sunday.
Goals to Travis Major, Grant Lynch and Carlos De Oliveira had the team 3-0 by the hour mark, guiding the reigning champions to victory.
The turnaround in form has seen City rise into the top four and ten points away from top spot.
City battered Olympic 5-1 earlier in the season with Major bagging a brace that day and they’ll look to take advantage of their still struggling opponents again.
Sutherland Sharks FC v Marconi Stallions FC
6:30 pm, Saturday 1 July, Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks go head-to-head with Marconi Stallions at Seymour Shaw on Saturday as the teams look to bounce back from disappointing recent results.
Sutherland’s winless woes continued last Saturday as they narrowly lost 1-0 to APIA Leichhardt.
The Sharks have now failed to win in their last five games as they’ve slipped back into the bottom half of the table.
The club will be sporting a new coach with ex-player Panny Nikas taking over following the departure of Damir Prodanovic who was recently appointed as the Newcastle Jets’ Assistant Coach.
The Sharks got the better of Marconi in round seven with a shock 2-0 win at the time.
They’ll seek to do the same again and get themselves out of their losing form currently.
Marconi’s battle for the title took a turn against them in round 21 as they lost 3-1 to Blacktown City.
It was the team’s sixth defeat of the season and saw them fall three points behind league leaders APIA, with the latter having a game in hand as well.
It’s imperative they get back to winning ways on Saturday to stay in contact with APIA heading into the final rounds.
This is a game to watch out for as there is great pressure on both teams for the points.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC v Rockdale Ilinden FC
7:00 pm, Saturday 1 July, Wanderers Football Park
Western Sydney Wanderers take on Rockdale Ilinden at Wanderers Football on Saturday night with the team still languishing in the relegation places.
Andrew Christiansen’s team suffered two late goals to go down 3-1 to Sydney Olympic in round 21.
Defender Edmond Lupancu’s equaliser with eight minutes left wasn’t enough for the team to hold onto as they went on to lose their thirteenth game of the year.
Still three points adrift of safety, the Wanderers are in desperate need of some momentum heading into the final leg of the campaign.
Rockdale suffered a shock 4-0 defeat to Wollongong Wolves last Sunday which put a large dent in their title chances.
Paul Dee’s team are now three points away from the summit, with APIA having a game in hand on them.
Ilinden were convincing winners against the Wanderers earlier in the season earning a 5-1 result.
Rockdale need to get back to winning ways this weekend, but it won’t be easy against a Western Sydney team hungry for vital points in their relegation battle.
It will be interesting to see how their three new faces in Iain Ramsay, Diego Celis and Daniel Collins slot in what will be a big clash set for Saturday.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers FC v Central Coast Mariners FC
7:00 pm, Saturday 1 July, Popondetta Park
Mount Druitt Town Rangers go head-to-head with Central Coast Mariners on Saturday night at Popondetta Park in another must-win for Stewart Montgomery’s team.
The Rangers lost their second match in a row in round 21 going down 3-1 to NWS Spirit.
They found themselves 3-0 down just after halftime meaning Will Harvey’s goal an hour in was merely a consolation.
Mount Druitt remain just three points clear of the relegation places, but they are now at least four points behind the next closest team.
The side earned the points earlier in the season against the Mariners with an emphatic come-from-behind 4-1 victory giving them confidence heading into Saturday.
Central Coast continued their remarkable resurgence in the NPL NSW Men’s edging out Sydney FC 2-1 last Sunday.
Lachlan Bayliss and Aydan Hammond each found the net in Abbas Saad’s team’s eighth win of 2023.
That was Bayliss’ ninth goal of the season, however, the Mariners will need to find a new goalscoring threat, with the exciting talent departing the club.
This game takes on increased importance for Mount Druitt as they seek to avoid relegation, but Central Coast are in some top form at the moment and will be a tough challenge.
Manly United FC v NWS Spirit FC
7:15 pm, Saturday 1 July, Cromer Park
Manly United host NWS Spirit at Cromer Park on Saturday night hoping to push back up into the middle of the table.
United were denied by a late equaliser against St George City in round 21 which made it just one win in their last five.
Bruno Mendes had the team ahead heading into the final seconds, but they conceded right at the end of stoppage time to see two precious points slip away.
Despite sitting in thirteenth, Manly are only three points away from eighth so a win this weekend could be massive for the northern beaches outfit.
Spirit picked up an important victory last Saturday getting up 3-1 against Mount Druitt Town Rangers.
Ollie Wiggin and Luiz Lobo had the team 2-0 up by halftime before Musashi Kokubo added a third just after the break.
It’s pushed David Perkovic’s men into 10th on the table and they could go into the top half with another win this Saturday.
These teams could each do with the points this weekend to keep the pressure on those above them in the mid-table.
Preview by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_