NSW Premier League Round 15 Preview


Both teams were in scintillating form last weekend as the Sharks handed South Coast Wolves a football lesson ? headed by Blake Powell, and the White Eagles knocked the Stallions off top-spot with a fine showing at home.
The clash marks a return to Seymour Shaw for both White Eagles boss Brian Brown and his assistant Cliff Pointer ? both enjoyed a rather successful spell at the club ? meanwhile last season?s Gold Medal winner Brad Boardman makes a return to the club he helped win the Grand Final in 2009.
Question marks have been asked of the White Eagles defensive capabilities, though the Stallions recent visit failed to prove those doubters correct as Bonnyrigg kept a clean-sheet.
The Sharks didn?t allow the Wolves to play at all at WIN Stadium, and Robbie Stanton?s team is now really playing with confidence after three consecutive wins. Defensively, the side is sound with George Souris pulling the strings nicely across the backline, meanwhile Jim Bakis and Panni Nikas have been in instrumental form in the attacking third, with Blake Powell calling the shots with his emphatic hat-trick against the Wolves last weekend.
Arguably the match of the round this weekend as the Sharks have the chance to close the gap on Bonnyrigg to three-points in case of victory on Saturday.
On Sunday afternoon, a refreshed Manly United FC play host to Rockdale City Suns at Cromer Park, the home-side coming off a ?free weekend? after their home match against A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers was washed out. Player/coach Craig Midgley will be hoping to see more of the same football played by his side in the defeat of Blacktown City in Round 13, a must if the side is to make a late run towards the finals series.
Rockdale City?s run this season has been marvellous, with the side turning the heads of many doubters from the start of the campaign. Mile Todorovski?s men performed admirably in the recent 0-0 draw against Blacktown City FC ? where the side was forced to fend with 10-men for 40? minutes, and perhaps deserved to win the match in the end for the chances they created. Todorovski will be asking for more of the same from his players this weekend with Dominic Hudap playing his way into some exceptional form. Hudap?s partnership with Robert Di Meglio through the centre of midfield has proven very successful, with the input of Stefan Donevski and Peter Apolevski on the left and right flanks respectively adding an additional dimension to the Suns play.
At Jensen Park Bankstown City need to make it successive victories if their ambitions of challenging for finals football are to remain alive. Peter Tsekenis? men battled bravely against Sydney Olympic in Round 14, grinding out the win thanks largely to a stellar performance by goalkeeper Zlatko Joseski. The Lions have regularly struggled against the Berries, and will need to make home ground advantage count on Sunday. Steve Karavatakis has raised the bar for his troops since taking over as coach, with the side challenging both Bonnyirgg White Eagles and Sydney United of late, though points are still required to lift the team from the foot of the League ladder. A win for either side will provide the victorious outfit with a real shot in the arm for a strong finish to the regular season.
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers and Marconi Stallions go into battle as the encounter between two great former NSL sides takes place at Leichhardt Oval in the ?Italian Derby?. The Tigers have been riding an impressive wave of form in recent weeks, arguably the most consistent side in the competition over the past two-months. Caretaker coach Billy McColl has worked wonders in bringing a new attitude amongst his players, setting up this tie against the Stallions nicely, following the Stallions recent losses against South Coast Wolves and Bonnyrigg White Eagles respectively.
Marconi coughed-up top-spot last weekend ? now second on goal difference to the White Eagles ? though Lee Sterrey?s men will certainly prove to be an enormous test for the Tigers this weekend. The Stallions will need to be a little more astute in-front of goal, after squandering some good scoring opportunities in recent matches.
In Wollongong, South Coast Wolves face Sydney United in a must win match for both sides. Confidence was sky high for the Wolves following victories against Marconi (league) and Bankstown City (McDonald?s Cup), though the recent hiding at the hands of Sutherland Sharks has really brought the side back down to earth. Trevor Morgan?s players have a tough obstacle in the shape of Sydney United this weekend, though the Reds could be there for the taking following an inconsistent run of results of late.
David Zdrilic?s men have failed to ?kill off? opponents, despite creating a number of chances, a concern for the side ahead of this battle with a Wolves line-up that has troubled many of their more fancied opponents with a normally well-organised approach.
In the final match of the round, Blacktown City FC needs to ??snap out? of their win-less run, dating back to the Round 11 defeat of Bankstown City, when Sydney Olympic visit Lily Homes Stadium. Blacktown step the bar in the early part of the season, though a number of injuries and a loss in form for a number of key players has seen the side slump back to fourth-spot on the ladder. Coach Aytek Genc will call upon  his younger guns Joel Chianese and Travis Major to keep lifting their games ? both players stars for the future. Meanwhile the experience of Tolgay Ozbey and Ante Deur will be needed to get Blacktown City back on track.
Sydney Olympic?s situation is a ?gloomy? one, though a victory this weekend for Andre Gumpercht?s team will certainly get the fire back into the players? bellies. Concerns surround the fitness of Anthony Doumanis after he was forced to leave the field early last weekend, meanwhile Chris Triantis and Dimitri Petratos will need to be on their games out of midfield to get the Blues going forward.
-By Joseph Carlucci