TeleChoice Premier League Round 20 Preview

a man standing in front of a crowd

Saturday evening sets Sutherland Sharks with a stern test against Marconi Stallions, following the Sharks first loss of 2008 over 90? minutes last weekend against Blacktown City Demons.
Sharks? boss Brian Brown did not have a happy return to his former stomping ground at Gabbie Stadium against the Demons, posing an interesting equation against another of his former sides, Marconi Stallions.
The Stallions have been hit with the immediate resignation of David Barrett following last weekend?s loss against West Sydney Berries. The Stallions disappointing season has hit rock-bottom, with the Bossley Park outfit sitting one-point off the foot of the table.
Sutherland Sharks require maximum points to avoid a nasty surprise from Wollongong FC ? the Wolves sit six-points behind the Sharks with one-match in hand.
On Sunday, Wollongong FC will have their chance to keep the pressure amongst the top three sides in the competition when they host a mentally stronger Blacktown City Demons.
The morale boosting win against Sutherland Sharks in Round 19 sets up an intriguing battle to avoid the wooden-spoon as only three-points separate eighth and twelfth on the League ladder. Meanwhile the Wolves, who have shown huge signs of maturity in recent weeks with their patient displays, are riding the ‘crest of a wave’ in-terms of results. John Turner?s men are looking the goods and remain unbeaten since Round 13, when Sydney Olympic took the points from the John Crehan Park encounter.
At Penrith?s CUA Stadium, Sydney United need points to distance the brave challenge of A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers when they face Penrith-Nepean United.
Sydney United currently sit in fifth-spot with a two-point lead over the Tigers and a match in-hand. Ivan Petkovic?s men have failed to re-ignite following the impressive display against Sutherland Sharks in Round 16, in a match dominated by the Reds yet drawn with a late injury-time goal by the League leaders.
Since that evening, the absence of Luka Glavas has seen the goals ?dry up? for the Reds, the tall striker?s presence vital for the consolidation of a Top-Five spot.
Penrith-Nepean?s brave efforts in previous weeks have not gone unnoticed. Abbas Saad?s team went close to staging a remarkable comeback against Sydney Olympic in their last home fixture, meanwhile the narrow loss to Manly United last weekend could have certainly been a different story had the boys from the West had a little bit of luck in-front of goal.
The Top-Five clash between Manly United and Sydney Olympic will provide a first taste of what we can expect come Finals time as both sides will almost certainly be in the race for the title.
Manly United?s results have not been pleasing to the eye of Phil Moss and the Manly United supporters, yet a hard-fought win against Penrith-Nepean will raise the confidence of a side that has battled a slump of sorts in recent weeks.
Sydney Olympic on the other-hand have proven their season is back on track following the mid-season slump incurred. The return of Shannon Cole and Matthew Mayora has raised the stakes for players vying for a starting-spot, improving the side?s performances and ? above all ? results.
Bankstown City will be on a revenge mission against West Sydney Berries following the Berries defeat of the Lions in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. Both sides are out of the running for a finals berth yet both sets of players have much to prove in the run home. Bankstown City?s main intentions will turn to the upcoming Tiger Turf Cup semi-final clash against Bonnyrigg White Eagles, yet a good showing against the Berries is required in anticipation of that showdown.
The Berries? remarkable come-from-behind defeat of Marconi Stallions in Round 19 will provide the joint coach partnership of Ramsin Shamon and Spiro Hantzis the injection of energy required for a motivated finish to their first campaign in NSW?s top-flight.
The final match of the Round pits A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers against Macarthur Rams at Lambert Park. Both sides have different motivations for this encounter as A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt still hold hopes of sneaking into the Top-Five. With the Rams ?low in morale? following an ordinary showing against Sydney Olympic, anything less than a win for the Tigers would be a complete disaster. With finals football not entirely in their own hands, the Tigers can ill-afford a slip-up on Sunday.
Paul Carter?s Macarthur Rams on the other-hand sit in bottom-spot ? on goal difference ? heading into Round 20, a statistic the Rams would like to amend prior to the conclusion of their first season in the Premier League.
-By Joseph Carlucci