On Saturday evening Sutherland Sharks and Manly United FC kick-start the second-half of the season with a mouthwatering tie, at least for the neutral, as second meets fourth in an attempt to make a mid-season statement to the title contenders.
The Sharks have been in great form following their sluggish start to the campaign, and the signs are looking bright for Robbie Stanton?s men as Nick Stavroulakis has made a solid return to the playing field after a long injury layoff. The midfielder?s return will compliment the great touch of Panny Nikas and Jim Bakis out of midfield, meanwhile Brad Boardman?s return amongst the goals in recent matches poses the visiting Manly defence with a big task at hand.
Manly United FC will still be buzzing following their defeat of the previously undefeated Sydney United on their home soil last weekend; a result that arrived despite Phil Moss? constant struggle to have a full selection of players at his disposal. Manly United was again without Robbie Cattanach and Craig Midgley, though the responsibilities have been taken upon the young shoulders of impressive performer Joey Gibbs and the ever reliable Scott Thomas in recent weeks.
A real treat is expected on Saturday evening at Seymour Shaw.
The match between Penrith Nepean United v Marconi Stallions has been called off due to the bad weather Sydney has experienced this past week.
Sunday afternoon action commences as Sydney Tigers return to Leichhardt Oval to host Bonnyrigg White Eagles with another evenly matched encounter expected. The Tigers hold a two-point lead over Bonnyrigg, and the hard-fought defeat of Wollongong in Round 11 would have done their confidence the world of good. Jason Trifiro was the hero in Wollongong with a late effort sealing the points, meanwhile Robbie Younis continues to show progress in his bid to re-create the magical goalscoring form of last season.
Brian Brown?s White Eagles have gone off the boil slightly following their blistering start after Brown?s arrival at the club. A heavy defeat at the hands of Marconi was made worse by the late equaliser conceded against West Sydney Berries last weekend after dominating the match from start-to-finish. Brown?s new signing Jay Lucas looked dangerous in his first match for the side, and more will be expected of the big striker when he lines up alongside Almir Dizdaric in attack. A close encounter is expected in Leichhardt on Sunday.
West Sydney Berries’ clash against Sydney Olympic has been called off due to the wet weather conditions that have hit Sydney while down the South Coast the Wollongong Community FC match v Bankstown City Lions has also been cancelled.
In the final match of the Round, League leader Sydney United will be after maximum points after their first loss of the season last weekend. The Reds still looked the goods at times against Manly United, despite the loss, a true testament to the tactical adjustments made by player/coach Ante Milicic.
In attack, the Reds possess a powerful front-line comprising Luka Glavas, David Zdrilic, Elsid Barkhousir and Milicic himself, meanwhile the return of Todd Brodie, along with the consistent performances of youngster Glen Trifiro, presents the side with many options going forward.
Blacktown City Demons? run in recent weeks has been promising, albeit for lapses in concentration that ultimately cost the side points against Manly United FC and Bankstown City most recently. Ken Schembri?s side possesses a great mix of youth and experience; the most exciting combinations involving Joel Chianese and Chris Bedzo. The Reds will need to closely monitor these two youngsters, along with Nick Sama?s ability to hold the ball in attack, though the absence of Tyler Simpson through suspension in defence, and most likely Ante Deur through injury, will pose the Demons with a difficult proposition at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday.
-By Joseph Carlucci