With the Waratah Cup third round seeing the entry of the Mens 2 clubs on Wednesday evening, it will be a busy week leading into round six of the league this coming weekend, but one match in particular stands out.
Mounties Wanderers v Northern Tigers Saturday 27 April 7pm Cook Park, Mount Pritchard
The season’s first top of the table clash occurs on Saturday when second placed Mounties Wanderers entertain the visiting Northern Tigers. This should be one to savour with both teams at the top of their form at the moment, and with the Mounties still undefeated. With their match last weekend postponed, Mounties have only played the four games of course, and face a tough cup game against Bankstown City on Wednesday but how they address the cup this week remains to be seen. Finalists in 2011, Mounties tend to go well in that competition but the visit of Tigers three days later will be cause for some consideration.
Northern Tigers have a somewhat easier cup game against Gladesville Ryde Magic, and a home game to boot at last, and they expect a boost to their squad this week with injury returnees. The Tigers have been somewhat threadbare recently and so their results perhaps are even more creditable. Their defence has remained as strong as ever, conceding just the four goals, with two of those against Parramatta FC. So two goals against in their other four games indicate just how solid they are at the back.
But so are Mounties, with just three conceded in one less game. That suggests that there won’t be a lot in it this Saturday, any chances created will need to be taken. While Mounties defeated the Tigers in a pre season friendly, no doubt much was learnt from that experience.
Bankstown Berries v Hills Brumbies Saturday 27 April 7pm, The Crest, Bass Hill
Spare a thought for the unfortunate Hills Brumbies who have been hit the hardest with the adverse weather, having played just once in the past three weeks. As a result, they can be expected to relish their cup game against the Illawarra’s Port Kembla. Port have had something of a reputation as a tough physical side over the years and are one of the Illawarra’s most successful. Currently top of the table in the Illawarra Premier League, Port will provide Hills with an ultra competitive game, something Hills will surely appreciate. After this of course, they then travel to Bankstown Berries on Saturday where they produced one of the shocks of the season last year, defeating the then league leaders. A similar result this weekend will be just the tonic for the Brumbies.
Bankstown Berries haven’t lost yet this season but have also won only once. Four draws in five matches sees the Berries sit in fifth place, five points off the top. Converting those draws into wins is the obvious target, and they have the strikepower to do so, but it has been at the back where it seems their concerns lie. A clean sheet last weekend may indicate that the corner has been turned. The Berries also meet Illawarra opponents in the cup in the guise of Tarrawanna, currently fourth behind Port Kembla. That match also won’t be a walkover.
Macarthur Rams v Parramatta FC Saturday 27 April 7pm, Lynwood Park, St Helen’s Park
This game has a mid-table look about it with sixth placed Macarthur welcoming seventh placed Parramatta to Lynwood Park. But while their current positions show this, it belies their football nous and it would be a brave person to predict a mid-table finish for either side at this early stage.
The word is that Parramatta’s football has been a lot better than their results indicate and it is just that the young Eagles need to find their scoring boots. They have dominated many of their matches so far, but failed where it counts, and spurning penalties along the way hasn’t helped, but any side that can defeat Northern Tigers certainly have the ability. Maybe the cup game against Inter Lions, winless in state league one, will provide the chance for a turnaround.
Macarthur Rams missed the chance to play last weekend and so remain on six points from twelve. Traditionally, they are one of the league’s strongest and nothing has occurred this year to alter that view. Both losses so far this year have only been by the single goal and they still have a game to play on three of the clubs above them. They face association side Kellyville Kolts away in an interesting cup matchup.
Bankstown City v Fraser Park Saturday 27 April 7pm, Jensen Park, Sefton
Bankstown City and Fraser Park meet on Saturday after both had an enforced layoff in round five. Conveniently for the Lions though, they had their round three catchup against St George last Wednesday and so their inactivity may prove less disruptive. With top striker Saso Petrovski leading the way, the Lions lurk ominously in fourth spot, but have that difficult cup game against Mounties. They defeated Fraser Park on both occasions last year, without conceding, and no doubt want a similar result here.
Fraser Park meet local rivals Dulwich Hill in the cup and that is always a fixture with much at stake, no matter the competition. That will be the case on Wednesday too so Fraser will need to lift twice in four days when tacking Bankstown City. With just one win to date, Fraser can’t afford to drop too many points so early on so they will need to be well on the pace when travelling to Jensen. With the Lions having drawn their past two, both 3-3 draws, now may be as good a time as any to take at least a point.
Sydney University v Mount Druitt Town Rangers Saturday 27 April 7pm, Hensley Field, Pagewood
If the top two meeting this weekend holds much interest, there is plenty here as well when the bottom two come together at Hensley Field. Both are yet to record a win and they have conceded a trifle too many to date, twenty five goals against between them so far. The football is certainly of the right brand, as it were, and with both clubs undergoing major changes between seasons, it can be expected that it may take some time for the respective teams to gel. The Rangers have recently added to their roster with the addition of striker Christian Cevenini, well versed at this level, so that signing will go some way to helping their scoring woes. A cup game against association side Mosman might get the ball rolling.
University performed well in gaining a point at Bankstown City a fortnight ago but then succumbed 4-1 to St George last weekend. They also have difficulty in finding the net, five goals so far, and all scored by Peter Crevani and Jamie Watt. They may have the chance to gain some scoring confidence when they take on fellow Hensley tenants, Hakoah, in the cup.
St George v Spirit FC Sunday 28 April 3pm, St George Stadium
The only Sunday fixture sees Spirit travel south to St George Stadium where they meet the Saints in what usually proves to be a tight contest. There has been very little between the sides over the past few years since Spirit’s rise to this level, though the visitors do hold the upper hand with four wins out of eight games. St George has only beaten Spirit once at St George Stadium, the only time being in 2009, so history is on Spirit’s side.
But they face a St George side who are certainly on form. Undefeated since round two, the Saints have risen to third on the table, mainly due to their strong scoring record. At over 3.5 goals scored per game, St George know where the net is, and Spirit will need to be on their guard when meeting Messam and co. St George face Hawkesbury City in the cup but expect some rotation for that one.
Spirit kept a clean sheet in an impressive 1-0 result at Macarthur last time they turned out and they will be starting to find their feet now after a month or so. Spirit can be expected to rise up the table as the weeks progress but first, they will have to visit the “money” club of the Illawarra, Dapto Dandaloo, when they meet in the cup.
-By Peter Rowney