Defending Champions Blacktown City Demons have suffered the loss of so many ?first-teamers? from last season?s Championship winning squad ? so much so that Ken Schembri?s men languish at the bottom of the League ladder.
Round 12 kicks-off with the Demons in action ? away from home ? against Sydney United.
Schembri?s ?go-to? men this season have been his ?wide men? Brian Vanega and Ken Chun, though the side has faltered following their turn in fortunes four-weeks ago. Following their poor start, Blacktown made motions to get their campaign on-track with a win against Marconi Stallions in Round 7, followed by successive draws against high-flyers Sutherland Sharks and Wollongong FC ? though big losses at the hands of Bankstown City and West Sydney Berries have consolidated the Demons spot on the Ladder.
Sydney United will need points to ensure they keep-up with the top-two sides in the competition ? Manly United and Sutherland Sharks hold a five-point lead over the Reds. Ivan Petkovic?s men have been in scintillating form, though last week came-up short against Sydney Olympic on home-soil. The Saturday night encounter could tell a lot about the potential of both these sides in the competition this season.
Also on Saturday, Penrith-Nepean United attempt to make ?right? of such a disastrous result against A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers last weekend.
Penrith was completed subdued by the Tigers, and Abbas Saad has a huge task at hand to help his men overcome such a result in the space of six-days.
Wollongong FC on the other-hand will also be coming off a defeat ? a ?derby? of sorts against Sutherland that finished in favour of the Sharks ? though John Turner?s men have been very positive in their recent displays.
The side will again be led by in-form strikers Ilija Prenzoski and Osagie Ederaro ? the main threats to a Penrith-Nepean rear-guard that conceded seven goals – four from Tigers? striker Robbie Younis – last Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon, the local ?Greek Derby? will be played at Belmore Sports Ground.
Sydney Olympic are still livid with the ?new boys? surprise defeat of the highly fancied Blues in Round 1 ? a perfect chance for Milan Blagojevic?s men to continue their positive run of two consecutive wins.
West Sydney Berries enter the match full of confidence following their win against Blacktown City at Gabbie Stadium, a huge turnaround following the heavy defeat collected against Sutherland Sharks one-week earlier.
With all the makings of a memorable TeleChoice Premier League match, the Belmore Sports Ground encounter promises to be the match of the round.
At the bottom-end of the table, Macarthur Rams will be looking for their first home-win of the season when they meet Marconi Stallions.
Both sides have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, culminating with both teams finally securing their first wins of the campaign.
Paul Carter will need more of the attacking prowess of the likes of Renato Jelen and Hugo Coronel, meanwhile Marconi Stallions? boss David Barrett will be hoping that Tolgay Ozbey?s strike against Bankstown City last weekend will be the boost in confidence he requires following an extremely slow-start in-front of goal this season.
Bankstown City?s task of collecting points to shorten the distance with the teams in the top-four will not be an easy one on Sunday as the ?Jensen Park boys? travel to Cromer Park to face an extremely strong Manly United.
Bankstown City has failed to find the consistency to their game that has been a predominant feature in recent campaigns. Bankstown?s impressive double win – Blacktown City Demons in the League and Macarthur Rams in the Tiger Turf Cup – was totally forgotten following the loss against the Stallions on Sunday, in what was arguably the side?s worst display to-date.
Manly United on the other-hand has cemented their claims for a title shot, illustrating the ability to grind out results even when the team is not at their best.
Macarthur Rams did hold the upper-hand at times in the Round 11 encounter against Manly, though Phil Moss? men showed great humility when momentum was against them and dug deep to secure a result ? a characteristic of all great football sides.
At Lambert Park, A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers meet Sutherland Sharks in a positive moment of form for both these sides.
The Tigers? rampant goal-scoring raid against Penrith-Nepean United will play on the minds of the Sharks players?, yet Brian Brown?s men have only conceded one-goal in the past six League matches ? meaning Robbie Younis will certainly have his work cut out to repeat such an emphatic performance as that of last Sunday.
With the Sharks eager to maintain their unbeaten record, and the Tigers desperate to find consistency in a season that has been a roller-coaster ride in terms of results, the Lambert Park tussle promises to be a great battle between two sides that do like to push forward in search of goals ? yet remain well covered in defence.
-By Joseph Carlucci