Round 28 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s has some crunch fixtures for the teams as we edge towards the end of the season.
Here’s the rundown.
Manly United FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC
2:30 pm, Saturday 12 August, Cromer Park
Western Sydney Wanderers travel to Cromer Park on Saturday afternoon eager to build on their second in a row in the competition against Manly United.
The Wanderers downed Sydney FC 2-1 to move three points clear of Mount Druitt Town Rangers.
Alexander Badolato had Andrew Christiansen’s team up at halftime before the inform Zachary Sapsford added a second later on.
However, the team will be without Aidan Simmons for this weekend after he was sent off against the Sky Blues.
Manly saw their good form in the competition halted in a 3-1 defeat to Wollongong Wolves last Sunday.
They dropped into the bottom half of the table after that as a place higher up slipped further away.
It was a dramatic encounter when these teams met earlier in the season as a nine-man Western Sydney held on for a 2-1 victory over a ten-man United.
Western Sydney will want to further solidify their place in the NPL NSW Men’s for next season against a Manly team reeling from a disappointing defeat.
Bulls FC Academy v Blacktown City FC
3:00 pm, Saturday 12 August, Sydney United Sports Centre
Bulls FC Academy play Blacktown City on Saturday afternoon at Sydney United Sports Centre in another difficult fixture for the team.
The Bulls were battered 5-1 by Marconi Stallions last weekend, where they found themselves 5-0 down by the 55th minute.
Marco Arambasic scored a consolation for Zeljko Kalac’s side as their relegation from the competition was confirmed.
Blacktown’s sensational winning run came to an end in round 27 as they drew 2-2 with St George City.
Lachlan Campbell put the side in front heading into halftime before Jak O’Brien re-established Blacktown’s lead.
A stoppage-time penalty saw the points shared in a heart-breaking draw that dashed City’s hopes of a title.
Coach Mark Crittenden will also have to deal with the suspension of Ignacio Corral after he picked up two yellow cards in four minutes.
The Bulls were on the end of another smashing in Round 13 against Blacktown, going down 4-1 at Landen Stadium.
Blacktown are the strong favourite for this one up against the struggling Bulls.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers FC v Marconi Stallions FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 12 August, Popondetta Park
Mount Druitt Town Rangers play Marconi Stallions at Popondetta Park on Sunday desperately needing some points.
The Rangers advanced to the Round of 16 of the Australia Cup on Friday evening with a 3-1 win over Canberra Croatia.
They’ll look to translate that positive result into their league form where they remain in the midst of the relegation battle.
The side played on Tuesday night against Sutherland Sharks, but they couldn’t crack their 10-man opposition, sharing the points 1-1.
The Stallions blasted away Bulls FC Academy over the weekend with a 5-1 result.
The usual suspects were crucial for the side with Jordan Swibel, Domenic Costanzo and Marko Jesic all finding the net.
With their chances of the title almost a mathematical impossibility, Peter Tsekenis will want his team to finish the season strongly.
Mount Druitt managed to upset Marconi earlier in the season with a gritty 1-0 win, and they could sorely do with the same this weekend.
It would be a monumental three points that would lift them on points with Western Sydney Wanderers in the last safe position.
Rockdale Ilinden FC v NWS Spirit FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 13 August, Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale Ilinden face another decisive clash on Sunday afternoon as they face NWS Spirit at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre.
There was more drama for Rockdale in round 27 as they edged past Central Coast Mariners 2-1.
Alec Urosevski stepped up yet again for the title-chasing Ilinden, scoring the winner in the final three minutes.
Paul Dee’s men are four points behind table-toppers APIA Leichhardt so they can’t afford to drop points in the remaining games.
The scorelines haven’t been emphatic for Rockdale recently, but they’ve picked up the results that keep them in the hunt.
Spirit ended their run of four matches without a win in dramatic fashion on Wednesday evening, scoring a winner deep into stoppage time against Sydney United.
That result pushed them up two places into tenth on the table, and with the competition so close they could find themselves in eighth by Sunday night.
Rockdale snatched a late win over Spirit in round 13, and they’ll be expected to claim the points again this weekend.
Sydney United 58 FC v Central Coast Mariners FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 13 August, Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 go head-to-head with Central Coast Mariners on Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre in an exciting matchup.
United 58 got their busy schedule off to a flyer advancing in the Australia Cup last Friday night.
However, they will be disappointed with their efforts on Wednesday night, conceding a late winner from a set piece against NWS Spirit.
Sitting right in the middle of the table, United’s league campaign could go either way in their final four matches.
A series of wins could push them into a top-five position or a poor run would see them finish towards the bottom places.
Central Coast continued to flounder in the competition as they lost their fourth match in a row last weekend.
Despite a gutsy showing against Rockdale, a late turnaround from their opponents condemned the Mariners to another loss.
After setting their sights on a high finish this year, that aspiration has fallen away in the last few weeks with a win a must for the team on Sunday.
Abbas Saad’s team earned the points against United earlier in the season with a 2-1 victory.
APIA Leichhardt FC v Sydney FC
4:30 pm, Sunday 13 August, Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt seek to take another big step toward NPL NSW Men’s glory on Sunday against Sydney FC at Lambert Park.
APIA outscored Sydney Olympic 5-3 last Saturday with star man Jack Stewart scoring four goals.
Stewart’s tally sits at 19 for the season, demonstrating his value as one of the players of the 2023 NPL NSW Men’s.
It’s a simple equation for APIA in these final three games; win the next two, and they’re champions irrespective of Rockdale’s results.
Sydney’s patchy form continued over the weekend with a 2-1 defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers as their arch-rivals did the double over them in 2023.
A positive result here could confirm Sydney’s spot in the top half of the table for 2023 and another successive campaign for the academy outfit.
APIA should be wary of the young Sky Blues in this match as earlier in the year, Sydney emphatically dispatched the side 4-0.
A result like that this time around would put APIA back under the pump at the top.
Wollongong Wolves FC v Sydney Olympic FC
5:45 pm, Sunday 13 August, WIN Stadium
Wollongong Wolves take on Sydney Olympic at WIN Stadium in the penultimate match on Sunday.
The Wolves put in a solid display to down Manly United 3-1 in Round 27, which pushed them up to seventh.
Samuel Riak and Lachlan Scott had the team 2-0 up by the break before Christopher McStay added a third in the second period.
It extends Wollongong’s remarkable run at home this season, having lost on just three occasions on the South Coast.
The side still have a chance of finishing in the top five having closed the gap to seven points.
Sydney Olympic were involved in a thrilling match last Saturday but ended up going down 5-3.
After taking an early lead through Roy O’Donovan, the side conceded five in a row, before scoring two late goals to make it a more respectable scoreline.
The team remain locked in a mid-table battle heading into the final three games, and some points on Sunday would see them knocking on the door of the top half.
These teams shared the points in Round 13, with both sides’ star strikers in O’Donovan and Scott scoring braces in a 2-2 result.
They’ll be plenty of attacking talent on show on Sunday with the Wolves seeking to extend their marvellous home record.
St George City FA v Sutherland Sharks FC
7:30 pm, Sunday 13 August, Penhurst Park
St George City host Sutherland Sharks at Penshurst Park on Sunday night as they look to hold down their top-five position.
City secured a late point over Blacktown City to draw 2-2 in a game where they equalised twice.
After going into halftime a goal down, Pedro Ferrari scored early in the second period before Kosta Petratos buried a stoppage-time penalty.
The side are five points away from third position, meaning an even higher finish could be on the cards if they finish the season strongly.
Sutherland played on Tuesday evening, where they ground out a 1-1 draw with Mount Druitt Town Rangers despite playing a portion of the game with 10 players.
Currently eight points clear of Mount Druitt, a victory would sew up their place in the competition for next year.
St George are in sparkling late-season form and will look to take advantage of a Sutherland team coming into Sunday with extra minutes in their legs.
Preview by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_