NSW Premier League Round 8 Preview


At the foot of the table, A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers will be out to maintain their confidence boost following their first win of the season last weekend when they visit Sydney United on Sunday.
Sutherland Sharks and Bankstown City open proceedings on Saturday evening at Seymour Shaw in a must win match for both sides. The Sharks are coming off last weekend?s loss at Sydney United, and really do require maximum points to keep up with the leading pack. The return of Panni Nikas to the squad is a much welcomed one; the NYL player of the season made an immediate impact last weekend, scoring inside the opening 3? minutes to get the Sharks off to a flyer, despite the side failing to carry on with the performance after taking the lead.
Bankstown City on the other hand are in desperate need of a win to salvage a season that is getting away from them, even after only seven rounds of the competition. Peter Tsekenis? side showed signs of improvement against the Stallions last weekend, though some costly lapses in the defensive third handed the Stallions victory at Jensen Park. The worrying sign for the Lions is the side?s poor run of form at home. Normally a fortress for the Lions, the side has struggled to collect points at home, meaning a good showing is required on Saturday in Miranda to keep track of the teams above them on the League ladder.
At Bonnyrigg Sports Ground, the White Eagles will be eager to bounce back following the loss to Blacktown City FC in Round 7. Brian Brown?s side has been in great touch, though the loss ? and consequent slip to third-spot on the ladder ? will have Bonnyrigg ready to rally for a win on Saturday.
Manly United FC on the other hand, much like Bankstown City, face a ?do-or-die? situation this weekend following a poor string of performances in recent weeks. The most frustrating of showings arrived in the home loss against South Coast Wolves in their last outing, even though the gradual return to form of Robbie Cattanach and Craig Midgely following long spells on the sidelines through injury do give Phil Moss and the Manly United faithful hope that an improvement in fortunes will be forthcoming.
At Marconi Stadium, first meets second as the table-topping Blacktown City FC visit the Stallions. Lee Sterrey?s Stallions showed no signs of any ?let up? following the recent home loss to Sydney United in the strong showing against Bankstown City last weekend. Sterrey?s pre-season, and early part of the competition, has been disrupted by the large number of players still to arrive in the group, though the experienced coach has worked wonders with the young group of players at his disposal. Mitchell Malia has been in great touch in the attacking third, already amongst the top scorers for the club this season, meanwhile Giorgio Speranza on the left-side of defence has also proven his worth nailing down a starting spot in the first team.
The challenge of Blacktown City will definitely be a big one for the Stallions as Aytek Genc?s men continue to improve week-in week-out. Blacktown disposed of Bonnyrigg last weekend, allowing the side to go clear at the top of the ladder, as Tolgay Ozbey & Co. continue to run havoc in the heart of the oppositions defence. The most impressive characteristic of this Blacktown City side has been their organisation across the park, and another win this weekend against one of the real contenders for the title will certainly send the side from Seven Hills into a healthy lead on the League ladder.
South Coast Wolves and Rockdale City Suns meet at WIN Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a clash between arguably the two ?surprise performers? thus far. Neither side was expected to provide any sort of challenge to their more fancied rivals, yet after seven rounds of the competition, these two clubs sit in seventh and fifth spot respectively on the ladder. The Wolves have proven a difficult unit to break down with coach Trevor Morgan cleverly organising the side?s defence to frustrate opponents. The Suns on the other hand have proven they can score goals, and once more this weekend the likes of Peter Apolevski and Marino Musumeci will be expected to be the driving force behind the Rockdale City attacks.
A big derby clash is scheduled for Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday afternoon with Sydney Olympic playing host to stern rival West Sydney Berries. The Blues have had a torrid run thus far in 2010 which currently sees them at the foot of the table along with the A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers. The Blues need goals ? a task to be handed to Matthew Mayora and Chris Triantis out of midfield ? meanwhile the defensive third will need to take a step-up if the Berries attacking players are to be kept quiet.
John Calleja?s Berries salvaged a point late-on against Rockdale City last weekend, and will be confident about meeting Sydney Olympic in their moment of struggle. The Berries are more than capable of creating chances ? as the recent draw at Rockdale City suggested ? though finding the back of the net was not so forthcoming. Dimitri Zakilas has the task of scoring the goals, meanwhile the experience of Kosta Lagoudakis will be vital out of the middle of the park. In a match with both sides possessing strong midfields, the first team to gain the upper hand across the middle of the park will go close to securing bragging rights from this derby.
At Sydney United Sports Centre, Sydney United will be out to keep pace with the League leaders when A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers visit. The Reds have re-grouped following successive draws against West Sydney Berries and South Coast Wolves, followed by a loss against Bonnyrigg White Eagles, to r-find their winning ways. Player/coach David Zdrilic has a red hot Elsid Barkhousir at his disposal ? the Reds striker has been in scintillating form, and many more goals will be expected of Barkhousir this season. Defensively, the Reds remain a solid unit with Joe Vrkic calling the shots, though the experienced Reds captain and teammates will need to be alert with the likes of Robbie Younis and Franco Parisi visiting on Sunday. The Tigers pairing have struggled, as have the Tigers in general this season, though the side?s first win of the season last weekend against Sydney Olympic will lift morale in anticipation of this weekend?s fixture.
-By Joseph Carlucci