Despite the lateness of the ?official? pre-season start, the performances from each of the NSW Premier League sides over the weekend were very promising.
Teams are using the Johnny Warren Cup as their gauge to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and above all, to play their way into some good form for the season proper ? and if performances from last weekend are anything to go by, the NSW Premier League will be an excitement-packed League this season.
Sixteen-goals were scored across the six-matches, with some fine-football displays on show.
Despite settling for a draw, Milan Blagojevic?s Sydney Olympic and John Turner?s Wollongong FC demonstrated their intentions for the new season with a well-balanced performance.
Arguably the two fittest sides in the pre-season, both Sydney Olympic and Wollongong FC were eager to attack until the end, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats even at this very early stage of the season.
Brian Brown?s Sutherland Sharks started their campaign on-fire, with an impressive opening 70? minutes against Penrith-Nepean United.
To their credit, Penrith fought hard for the final 20? minutes, and made a match of it as Nathan Ralph and Erik Anabalon scored late goals to boost morale.
Marconi Stallions? defeat of Bankstown City was a perfect start for the Stallions, though Bankstown City would take a lot of heart from their performance.
Matthew Gordon and Ante Deur scored the goals for the Stallions, though last season?s NSW Premier League runner-up did play some tantalising football throughout the 90? minutes ? worthy at least of a goal.
New boys West Sydney Berries and Macarthur Rams were defeated by Manly United and Sydney United, respectively.
West Sydney Berries made a real fight of their tussle with Manly, scoring a late goal through Craig Jacobs. Despite the 3-1 result, the side?s efforts certainly deserved more from the match, although ominous signs do surround Manly United who certainly seem ready to take a further step-up this season.
Phil Moss? group of players looked to be in great shape with Football NSW Gold Medalist for 2007, Robbie Cattanach already finding his goal scoring boots.
Sydney United too performed well in the heat against the Rams, with their new-look strike-force producing the goods.
Elsid Barkhousir and Luka Glavas will give many defences nightmares this season, meanwhile in the back-line, Joseph Vrkic and Josip Moric offer great security.
Last season?s NSW Premier League Grand-Final winners Blacktown City Demons got their campaign off to a great start against defending Johnny Warren Cup champions, A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers.
In a match of missed chances, from both sides, Brian Vanega stood out 10?minutes from time to strike home a picturesque free-kick for Blacktown City, and secure new boss Ken Schembri the three-points.
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