The final round of the 2023 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s is here.
Here’s what to expect from the last set of this season’s matches.
Sydney Olympic FC v Sydney United 58 FC
7:00 pm, Wednesday 23 August, Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic host Sydney United 58 at Belmore Sports Ground in the only midweek tie of round 30.
This is because United 58 will be playing its Australia Cup Round of 16 clash against A-League side Brisbane Roar this Saturday afternoon.
Olympic continued their better late-season form edging out Marconi Stallions 1-0 in round 29.
Oliver Puflett made it three goals in his late two games scoring the winner just before the half-hour mark.
That win has given Olympic a chance of a top-half finish if results go their way this weekend.
United 58 fell to defeat for the 13th time this season in a 2-0 loss to St George City last Sunday.
Two glaring errors at the back condemned the side to a loss which saw them drop to tenth on the table.
With some important cup fixtures coming up for Miro Vlastelica’s men, they’ll want to make the most of their final league fixture.
Olympic were narrow winners against United 58 back in round 15, getting up 1-0 thanks to a goal on the stroke of halftime.
These teams are level on points heading into this one, with it tough to pick between the teams for Wednesday night.
Sydney FC v Sutherland Sharks FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 27 August, Valentine Sports Park
Sydney FC play Sutherland Sharks on Sunday at Valentine Sports Park, hoping to cling onto sixth spot.
The side fired home a stoppage-time equaliser to share the points with Rockdale Ilinden in a 2-2 draw last Friday night.
Jaiden Kucharski gave the young Sky Blues a lead 17 minutes in before they found themselves behind heading into the last seconds.
Bailey Callaghan came off the bench to score in the final moments to restore parity for Sydney.
Jimmy van Weeren’s team are three points above Wollongong Wolves heading into this weekend, however, with a much worse goal difference.
If the Wolves win against a struggling Mount Druitt Town Rangers and Sydney lose, Wollongong will leap ahead of FC.
Sutherland’s spiral down the places continued in round 29, being edged out 1-0 by bottom side Bulls FC Academy.
It leaves them in 13th place and potentially falling another place if they lose again this weekend.
The teams couldn’t be separated in round 15 with a 0-0 draw at Seymour Shaw, but Sydney FC will be expected to win this one.
Rockdale Ilinden FC v Blacktown City FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 27 August, Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre
The competition’s entertainers Rockdale Ilinden take on Blacktown City at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday, seeking a strong finish to an excellent campaign.
Ilinden’s title hopes were all but extinguished last Friday night, conceding in the last seconds to draw 2-2 with Sydney FC.
Jaden Casella and Alec Urosevski had the team in the lead heading into stoppage time, they couldn’t hold on, though.
There remains a small chance of title glory for Rockdale if they overturn a 12-goal deficit on goal difference and APIA lose to St George City.
With the competition’s Golden Boot star Urosevski on their side, you never know, although it will be a tall order against one of the best second half of the season teams in City.
Blacktown City also drew last weekend, to contrast, scoring in the final moments to snatch a point.
Carlos De Oliveira scored in the 89th minute as they took a point against Wollongong Wolves.
Blacktown moved into third after that result, but they’ll likely need to win again to hold onto it with Marconi Stallions just a point below and St George City just two behind that.
Rockdale won against Blacktown earlier in the season with plenty of late drama in the game.
These have been two of the best teams in the competition in 2023, and they’ll both want to finish with a bang.
APIA Leichhardt FC v St George City FA
3:00 pm, Sunday 27 August, Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt look set to lift the NPL NSW Men’s title against St George City at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon.
It will be party time for the club in Sydney’s Inner West.
APIA fell to defeat for the fifth time in round 29, going down 2-1 to NWS Spirit.
Jason Romero had the team in front early, but they went into the sheds level before conceding with two minutes to play to lose.
Despite the league leaders late-season stumbling, they go into round 30 three points ahead of Rockdale Ilinden, so barring a conceding disaster, they’ll claim the trophy.
St George City moved closer to a top-three finish with a 2-0 victory against Sydney United 58 last weekend.
A goal in each half from Franco Maya and Kosta Petratos guided the team to their 14th victory of 2023.
St George will need to win on Sunday and hope the two teams above them lose, paving the way for City to take out third.
APIA beat St George City in round 15 with a 2-1 result, and the same again would be a suitable finish to an exceptional campaign for the champions in waiting.
Marconi Stallions FC v Central Coast Mariners FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 27 August, Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions go head-to-head with Central Coast Mariners at Marconi Stadium on Sunday afternoon, looking to finish off a competitive season in 2023.
The Stallions lost their eighth game of the year in a 1-0 defeat to Sydney Olympic in round 29.
It saw the team drop to fourth on the table, and they could fall to fifth if they don’t pick up maximum points this weekend.
The Mariners lost for the sixth time in a row following a 1-0 loss to Manly United last Sunday.
The side remained in 12th after that latest defeat but they could drop into 14th without at least a point on Sunday.
Despite the defeats, the scorelines overall have been tight, meaning they don’t look like rolling over against their opponents on Sunday.
Central Coast stunned Marconi earlier in the campaign with a 2-0 victory courtesy of two second-half goals.
After disappointing recent rounds for these teams, they’ll want to put that right to end the 2023 NPL NSW Men’s season.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers FC v Wollongong Wolves FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 27 August, Popondetta Park
Mount Druitt Town Rangers could play their last NPL NSW Men’s match until at least 2025 on Sunday against Wollongong Wolves at Popondetta Park.
The Rangers’ fate was resigned to a relegation play-off after a 2-1 defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers last Sunday.
Jackson Bandiera equalised in the 70th for the side, but a goal deep injury time left Mount Druitt with a do-or-die clash against the FNSW League One second-placed team.
It is unclear who their opponents will be at this stage, with Bonnyrigg White Eagles and St George FC separated by a point going into the final round.
Wollongong Wolves were denied a memorable win over Blacktown City, conceding late on to draw 1-1.
Takumi Ofuka scored soon after halftime with his ninth goal of the 2023 campaign, however, the team conceded in the 89th minute.
Wollongong remain in seventh, and they could go up to sixth with a victory on Sunday if Sydney FC lose to Sutherland Sharks.
It was a tight 0-0 draw at WIN Stadium earlier in the season, so the Wolves will be eager to get the points in their final game of the year.
Mount Druitt will want to go into their relegation play-off with some confidence, but Wollongong have been a strong force in the second half of 2023.
Bulls FC Academy v Manly United FC
3:00 pm Sunday 27 August, Sydney United Sports Centre
Bulls FC Academy play their final game in the NPL NSW Men’s competition – at least for now, against Manly United at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday.
The side picked up just their third win of the season, downing Sutherland Sharks 1-0 in round 29.
Ariath Piol scored the winning goal with eight minutes to go taking his tally to six for the season.
While the Academy can’t avoid finishing last, they’ll still want to finish their campaign well after a difficult campaign.
Manly secured their 11th victory of the 2023 season with a 1-0 victory over Central Coast Mariners.
Defender Alen Aganovic scored the winning goal midway through the second period.
That result pushed United up to eighth, just a point behind Wollongong Wolves in seventh.
Manly performed a spectacular late comeback against the Bulls earlier in the season to get up 3-2.
Both these teams have had tough times in the competition this year, but they’ll be eager to finish in the best possible way on Sunday.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC v NWS Spirit FC
3:00 pm, Sunday 27 August, Wanderers Football Park
Western Sydney Wanderers go into their match with NWS Spirit on Sunday at Wanderers Football Park, having picked up a monumental result last weekend.
The side confirmed their spot in the NPL NSW Men’s for next season with a late 2-1 victory over Mount Druitt Town Rangers.
Zachary Sapsford scored early for Western Sydney, but the scores were level heading into the final moments.
Marcus Younis buried a goal in stoppage time to seal their status in the topflight of the competition for 2024.
The Wanderers have had a phenomenal turnaround in their campaign, losing just three times in their last ten matches after losing 12 of their first 18 this season.
Spirit have had a contrasting recent run, struggling to find consistency of late.
However, they managed to pull off an upset, denying APIA Leichhardt the title with a 2-1 victory in round 29.
David Perkovic’s men went behind early before Matthew Cahill and Peter Kekeris turned it around.
The team moved only two points behind seventh, giving them a chance of a top-half finish if they win on Sunday.
These sides have managed to avoid relegation this season and go into Sunday with little pressure on them.
Preview by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_