The National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s continues to provide drama with just a few games to go.
Round 27 has some more important fixtures, with it still all to play for at both ends of the table.
Here’s what to expect.
Sydney Olympic FC v APIA Leichhardt FC
4:00 pm, Saturday 5 August, Belmore Sports Ground
Belmore Sports Ground hosts a blockbuster fixture when powerhouses Sydney Olympic and APIA Leichhardt go head-to-head on Saturday.
APIA’s second defeat in a row put the pressure back on their title aspirations, now only four points clear at the top.
Despite taking the lead against Blacktown City from the penalty spot in the first half through Jack Stewart, two goals in eight second-half minutes turned the scoreline around.
After looking untouchable at the top just a couple of weeks ago, the side need to win to keep their shrinking lead intact.
Olympic are in some of their best form of the season, extending their unbeaten run to four games with a resounding 5-1 victory against Central Coast Mariners.
Roy O’Donovan opened the scoring before Jakob Cresnar, Fabio Ferreira and Adam Parkhouse all scored before halftime.
Nick Fitzgerald added a fifth late on to earn Olympic’s biggest win of the 2023 season.
The teams are currently on contrasting runs of form, giving the reigning premiers a chance to pile further angst on the league leaders.
This is one of the games of the round with plenty of quality on show and massive implications for the title race.
Marconi Stallions FC v Bulls FC Academy
7:00 pm, Saturday 5 August, Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions play Bulls FC Academy on Saturday night at Marconi Stadium after their title charge slipped further away last weekend.
The Stallions were edged out 1-0 by Rockdale Ilinden despite facing 10 men for most of the game.
It’s left Peter Tsekenis’ team nine points behind first place and dropping down to fourth on the table.
One win in their past seven has left Marconi with minimal chance of taking out the title, but they’ll fancy their chances against the bottom-of-the-table Academy on Saturday.
The Bulls were blown away 5-0 by Western Sydney Wanderers, with their relegation all but confirmed as a result.
The side went into the sheds 2-0 down before the team shipped a further three goals in the second half.
Zeljko Kalac’s team are 10 points adrift from safety with only 12 still to play for.
Marconi got up when the teams met earlier in the season with a strong performance in a 4-1 victory.
Marconi will be expected to win this one with the Bulls set to play for pride in the final four matches.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC v Sydney FC
1:00 pm, Sunday 6 August, Fairfield Showground
There’s a Sydney derby in the early kick-off on Sunday when Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC meet at Fairfield Showground.
The Wanderers secured a monumental 5-0 win over Bulls FC Academy to heave themselves out of the relegation playoff place last Saturday.
The pressure is still on Andrew Christiansen’s side who are just one point clear of the drop zone with four matches to go.
Zachary Sapsford notched a brace last weekend as he took his tally to seven in what has been a breakout season for the talented winger.
Sapsford got the winner when these teams met earlier in the season and will be a player to watch this weekend.
The young Sky Blues also snagged victory with Mitchell Glasson nailing home a stoppage-time winner in round 26.
Sydney moved just five points behind fourth as a finish higher up the table remains a real possibility.
Both teams are carrying momentum into this weekend, and there is still plenty to play for on Sunday.
Central Coast Mariners FC v Rockdale Ilinden FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 6 August, Pluim Park
Central Coast Mariners face Rockdale Ilinden on Sunday afternoon at Pluim Park, hoping to end a four-game winless streak.
The Mariners were battered 5-1 by Sydney Olympic in a disappointing outing for the academy side.
The team found themselves 4-0 down at halftime, but Aidan Milicevic picked up a consolation in the 76th minute.
Coach Abbas Saad will also be without George Daniel for this weekend after he was sent off in stoppage time last Saturday.
Rockdale made up points on league leaders APIA Leichhardt for the second week running in round 26 and are now just four behind.
It was another gutsy showing from Ilinden as they edged out Marconi Stallions 1-0 despite playing almost an hour of the game with 10 men.
Iain Ramsay put the side in front midway through the half, but less than 15 minutes later, goalkeeper David Bradasevic was sent off.
Paul Dee’s men managed to hold on at the back and snatch the points to become the nearest challengers to the top.
Dee will now though have to deal with the suspension of his experienced goalkeeper for the next few weeks.
The Mariners stunned Rockdale earlier in the season with a 3-1 win, so Ilinden will have to be wary of their opponents with the pressure on for title glory.
Blacktown City FC v St George City FA
3:00 pm, Sunday 6 August, Landen Park
Blacktown City host St George City at Landen Park as they look to pull off a title story for the ages.
The side performed a second-half turnaround to defeat APIA Leichhardt 2-1 last Saturday.
Ignacio Corral and Reuben Awaritefe each scored after the hour mark to win Blacktown’s eighth match on the bounce.
Mark Crittenden’s team moved just seven points away from first and look like an unstoppable force at the moment.
However, winning all final four games is likely their only chance of claiming the title with APIA still the favourites to take out the competition.
St George City are also in some great form, winning four out of their last five matches.
The team most recently flogged Mount Druitt Town Rangers 6-0 with six different goalscorers.
Among them was striker Presley Ortiz and the ever-reliable Pedro Ferrari from fullback.
Ferrari has stood out for Mirko Jurilj’s team, with the Brazilian defender firing home three goals in 2023.
It was a pulsating 2-2 draw earlier in the season with St George snatching a point in stoppage time.
This is another high-stakes clash at the top of the table with it hard to pick between these teams going into Sunday.
Wollongong Wolves FC v Manly United FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 6 August, WIN Stadium
Wollongong Wolves host Manly United at WIN Stadium on Sunday afternoon after suffering their first loss in three games.
David Carney’s men lost 2-1 to Sydney United 58, their ninth defeat of 2023.
Lachlan Scott scored on his return from suspension pushing him up to 12 goals for the season.
Manly continued their flurry in the latter stages of the season with their third win in a row against Sutherland Sharks.
James Oates scored the winner as he, too returned from suspension for United.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround for Manly, who were contemplating the possibility of relegation from the NPL NSW Men’s just a few weeks ago.
The teams are level on points heading into Sunday, but Wollongong were convincing winners in the reverse fixture.
The Wolves earned a dominant 3-0 result that day and will be eager to do the same on Sunday.
There’s not much between these teams heading into this game so it should be one to keep a watch for.
Sutherland Sharks FC v Mount Druitt Town Rangers FC
7:30 pm, Tuesday 8 August, Seymour Shaw
Mount Druitt Town Rangers travel to Seymour Shaw on Tuesday night to face Sutherland Sharks in a crucial game in their relegation battle.
The Rangers copped a 6-0 battering from St George City in round 26 which saw them slump into the relegation zone.
In these final four games, it will be a desperate scrap for Stewart Montgomery’s men starting with the Sharks in round 27.
Sutherland were narrowly edged 1-0 by Manly United over the weekend as they fell to 13th on the table.
The Sharks have won only once since round 16, instigating their fall down the places.
They remain eight points clear of the Rangers in the relegation zone, but a defeat here would see danger draw too close for comfort.
The Shire club took the points against Mount Druitt earlier in the season with a tight 2-1 win which was one of only six times the team have scored at least two goals.
Mount Druitt have a chance to drag Sutherland into the relegation battle and set up a grandstand finish in the battle for safety.
Matches Postponed due to Australia Cup:
- NWS Spirit v Sydney United 58