TeleChoice Premier League Round 18 Preview

a person holding a football ball

League Leader Sutherland Sharks face a rampant Bankstown City on Saturday evening at Seymour Shaw where a win is vital for both sides ? for very different reasons, obviously.
Brian Brown?s unbeaten Sharks could all but end the brave chase of Manly United & Co. for top-spot in the run home to the finals-series, yet such a result would almost certainly end the hopes of Bankstown City ? a mainstay in the finals-series of recent seasons.
Brown has the bonus of a fit Nick Stavroulakis who is riding high following his impressive goal against Macarthur Rams last weekend, though George Souris & Co. in defence will still be livid at conceding such a late goal in the same match.
The Sharks will be without one of their most influential defenders in Pedj Bojic who will be suspended for this exciting clash.
Bankstown City?s two-week winning streak promises much hope for their supporters as the team from Jensen Park has finally made a habit of finding the back of the net.
Bankstown City supporters will also have a big interest in the Penrith-Nepean United v Sydney Olympic encounter at Penrith?s CUA Stadium.
Sydney Olympic has been in a state of clear decline in-terms of form, a problem due arguably to the heavy fixture list, yet above all, the absence of several key players such as Shannon Cole.
Penrith-Nepean?s season has also taken a battering following their more than impressive start, though a shorter playing roster has hurt the Club in the second-half of the season.
Sydney United, who come off a ?free weekend? following the decision to postpone their Round 17 clash against Wollongong FC until July 19, need to keep the pressure on Manly United for a Top-Two spot on the ladder.
Ivan Petkovic?s side will be without Luka Glavas for the encounter, though performed remarkably well against the Sharks in their last outing in Round 16.
In arguably the Reds? best performance of the season to-date, Petkovic?s players were exceptional as they led the Sharks 2-0 going into the final 10? minutes.
Macarthur?s first season in the Premier League has been one of mixed fortunes, though Paul Carter has done an exceptional job with the team. A three-pointer at home against the Reds will certainly go a long way in ensuring the wooden-spoon is avoided.
At Marconi Stadium, the Stallions will be without the suspended trio of Kain Rastall, Vuko Tomasevic and Umut Tokdogan following their dismissals against A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt in Round 17.
The Stallions are unbeaten since a Round 7 defeat against the Blacktown City Demons – the Demons much need a repeat performance of that day to have any hope of avoiding the wooden-spoon.
On Sunday afternoon, A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers will play to keep their finals-series hopes alive against Manly United. A win for Manly United will keep the pressure on Sutherland Sharks for top-spot, though defeat for the Tigers ultimately ends the chances of John Romeo?s Tigers.
At Lambert Park, A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt require more of the same good form displayed by the likes of Marton Vass, Jamie McMaster and Franco Parisi in recent weeks as anything less than a win will make finals-football almost unreachable.
The final match of the Round pits in-form Wollongong FC against Shamon Ramsin?s win-less West Sydney Berries.
The Berries have played some great football in recent weeks, though luck has certainly turned its back on the side.
Wollongong FC on the other-hand is in a great position to stake their claim for the title this season.
The Wolves sit in fourth-spot on 28-points, one behind Sydney United and four-points behind Manly United, with both the Wolves and Sydney United still holding a match in hand to be played on the 19th of July.
-By Joseph Carlucci