NPL 2 NSW Men’s writer Ryan Latty previews this weekend’s round of matches with the match of the round taking shape at North Turramurra Recreation Area when the Northern Tigers battle the Blacktown Spartans on Saturday.
Match of the Round:
Northern Tigers FC vs Blacktown Spartans – 7pm Saturday 10th March – North Turramurra Recreation Area
The Northern Tigers will be looking at getting their season on track with a win on Saturday as skipper Mike Rolston and his men hope they can produce some magic to overcome the Blacktown Spartans.
Much has been made of the additions the club has made to the team this year – all in an effort to regain their place among the elite of the competition as they have done for the last several seasons.
Will 2018 be their year?
Last week their patchy performance against Mounties could only earn them a draw.
And many feel that the Tigers need to set down a marker in these early matches to prove to their doubters that the Tigers have regained their roar.
The Spartans did what the Tigers could not do last week – win.
Their opening round defeat of Macarthur – whilst no remarkable, was essential. Since their descent from the top tier NSW Men’s competition, the Spartans have been rebuilding, slowly.
Luis Contigiani has one of the youngest sides in the league and is realistic about their ambitions this season.
But pick up another three points in this match against the Northern Tigers and suddenly a mid-table prediction can be adjusted to more lofty targets.
This match has the makings of a season-defining match for both teams and football fans cannot afford to miss this riveting battle on Saturday night.
Rydalmere Lions vs GHFA Spirit FC – 1pm Saturday 10th March – Valentine Sports Park No.2
A draw on debut for Rydalmere in the NPL 2, but draws satisfy the appetite of no football fan and the hungry newly promoted side will be wanting to secure their first victory in this league when they take on Spirit FC in this round 2 clash.
Led by inspirational captain and former Socceroo star Ahmad Elrich, the club will be relying on his leadership to steer the ship forward.
It’s been a difficult start to the season for Spirit FC.
David Perkovic’s side have been ravaged by injury in pre-season, with two of their star recruits sustaining long term injuries.
Incredibly, they managed to win their first-round match last weekend against a Hills United side who ran out of bullets after shooting themselves in the foot countless times to almost hand the game to Spirit FC.
They will find no such charity this weekend.
Get down to the home of football in NSW, bathe in the sunshine and warmth of enthralling football, as two teams go in search of precious points in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s competition.
Macarthur Rams vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers – 7pm Saturday 10th March – Lynwood Park
Two teams who have begun the season in vastly different form.
Macarthur huffed and puffed their way through their opening round match against Blacktown but ultimately failed to blow any house down.
Mt Druitt, on the other hand, strolled to a comprehensive victory over the Bankstown Berries.
But this is only round 2 and even the great Ali needed a few rounds to warm up.
And now that the Rams return to their home paddock, they are a very different beast.
Lynwood Park boasts some of the greatest fans in the league and Macarthur will no doubt be hoping the home support turn out in droves to see their team claim their first points of the season.
It’s only round 2 but there are 2 important questions to be answered in this fixture.
How seriously should we take Mt Druitt’s Premiership bid?
Are Macarthur good enough to avoid the drop this year?
Find out in this intriguing clash in the NPL 2 competition.
Canterbury Bankstown FC vs North Shore Mariners – 7pm Saturday 10th March – Valentine Sports Park No. 2
How important is confidence in football?
Well, we’re about to find out.
Bankstown come into this match devoid of confidence after a humbling 3-0 defeat to Mt Druitt.
The scoreline flattered the Rangers in that match but the Berries’ profligacy in front of goal is a worrying sign for coach Perry Moustakas and he will be hoping his strikers can find the net before the crippling absence of confidence renders their feet impotent.
North Shore Mariners are on cloud 9 after their miraculous comeback victory over the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Their win was made even more sweeter when the Mariners saw that many of their top six rivals dropped points in frustrating draws.
Despite it being early in the season, the value of points remains the same in round 1 and round 26 – and for the Mariners to enjoy a two-point lead over many competition heavyweights, it could prove crucial in the final standings calculations.
Canterbury Bankstown cannot afford to begin the season with two straight defeats and the North Shore Mariners cannot afford to forfeit the lead currently hold over their competition rivals.
Something’s got to give. Which one will it be?
Western Sydney Wanderers vs St George FC – 3pm Sunday 11th March – Sydney United Sports Centre
The Western Sydney Wanderers finally gave their answer to the indelible question asked by hip-hop icon Eminem in his most famous song.
“Would you capture it? Or just let it slip?”
They’d let it slip.
Up two goals to nil and cruising, the Wanderers opened the door for the North Shore Mariners to steal victory last week with catastrophic defending.
The usual suspects, Lachlan Scott and Abraham Majok worked hard to earn the Wanderers a lead but could not find an equalising goal in the dying minutes of their round one clash.
St George, like the Wanderers, are a team many expect to challenge for Premiership and Championship glory this season.
Led by their Spanish contingent, the Saints recovered from a turbulent week off the field to earn a precious draw on it.
But after disappointing round one results, both sides will be looking to secure their first victory of the season.
Who is the real deal and who is just another Slim Shady?
Central Coast Mariners vs Mounties Wanderers – 6pm Sunday 11th March – Plum Park No. 1
Round one of the NPL 2 NSW Men’s was plagued with draws and these two teams were the main offenders.
Central Coast Mariners entertained competition new-boys, Rydalmere, whilst Mounties Wanderers were held by Northern Tigers.
Encouragingly both sides dominated large parts of their respective opening round clashes but the coaches will be hoping their promising football translates into more than pretty statistics.
The later Sunday kick-off means both sides will know the results of many games before their match begins, adding to the pressure of securing three vital points.
Two draws to start the season?
No one wants, or should I say can afford, that.
Parramatta FC vs Hills United FC – 7pm Sunday 11th March – Melita Stadium
It was a promising performance from Parramatta FC in their return to the NPL 2 Men’s competition.
A three-all-draw against competition favourites, St George; but in truth, it was a match many Parramatta FC fans may look back on and think they should have won.
But with so much football to be played, it’s the time to look forward, not backwards, and Steve Elriche’s side will be expecting to collect an important three points as they host Hills United at Melita Stadium.
One player that stood out was former Hyundai A-League player Jason Trifiro for Parramatta FC with the crafty midfielder hoping to push the club’s causes for silverware this season.
The temptation to look back regretfully is also itching Hills United this week as poor discipline and decision making cost them dearly in a match against Spirit FC they could have very well won.
With neither side able to entertain thoughts of regret, it is imperative that they seize this moment to secure three points and set their season back on the right tracks.
– By Ryan Latty
- Mt Druitt (W)
- North Shore Mariners (W)
- Blacktown Spartans (W)
- Spirit FC (W)
- St George (D)
- Mounties (D)
- Northern Tigers (D)
- Parramatta FC (D)
- Hills United (L)
- Macarthur Rams (L)
- Western Sydney Wanderers (L)
- Bankstown Berries (L)
-By Ryan Latty