The National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition turns the corner this weekend for the run home as we approach Round Fourteen, which is the reverse match of the opening round of fixtures which took place back in March.
For some clubs, it is a chance to start afresh and make a surge towards finals football, whilst for others it is about consolidating positions near the top and keeping teams below them at bay.
On the back of their recent uplift in from, Dunbar Rovers will be hoping to add St George City FA to their list of scalps when the two teams face off at Hensley Athletic Field at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.
Dunbar have lost just once in their last 8 matches, and that run of form has taken them up to 5th spot on the ladder. Ryan Shaughnessy has been in especially good form, scoring 9 goals this season and assisting in plenty others, and he is complemented by Yoel Silvestre in attack who has netted 10 times.
But the Rovers face the real deal in St George City FA, a team which leads the competition by 5 points, boasting the best attack (50 goals) and best defensive records (13 goals) in the league.
Geoffry Lino has lead the attack with 16 goals in 12 matches, supported by Sam Messam, who has scored 12, and look out for youngster, Steve Kuzmanovski, the former Melbourne City A League striker hitting form and managing 7 goals in 9 games in a season interrupted by injury.
St George City FA won the opening day fixture on March 10 by 2-0 at Jubilee Oval, with Messam and Peter Yannopoulos getting on the scoresheet, and they will be hoping for a similar result to maintain their lead at the summit.
Something simply has to give on Saturday afternoon at Sir Jack Brabham Park in Orange when the competition’s two winless teams, Western NSW Mariners and Fraser Park, go head to head at 3pm.
Both sides have had a difficult season to date, yet to sing their victory song after 13 rounds of football, but not through a lack of trying.
The Mariners are in 13th spot, courtesy of their four draws, the most notable being when they held the tehn competition leaders, Hawkesbury City, to 1-1 stalemate at this very venue in Orange.
Long gone are the days of success Fraser Park endured when they won the Championship Grand Final in 2017 with a victory over Rydalmere Lions. Two draws see them propping up the ladder, with four red cards not helping their cause.
The Round 1 fixture ended in a 2-2 draw at Marjorie Jackson Field. Michael Guse and Pietro Nigro gave Fraser a 2-0 lead, before late goals to Kenny McCall and Matthew Corben rescued a point for the Mariners.
Will the arm wrestle result in a draw to keep both teams winless, or will one side be singing their victory song – we’ll know the answer by 5pm on Saturday afternoon.
SD Raiders will be out to return to winning ways when they travel to Arlington Oval to meet Stanmore Hawks on Saturday night at 7pm.
The Raiders lost out to a resurgent Sydney University side last weekend, losing 0-3, and it is their inconsistency which has allowed a host of teams to close the gap on them on the ladder.
Stanmore had a welcome return to form last Saturday, beating the Mariners 4-2 on the back of a Sam Awad hatrick, so will have their tails up going in to this one.
It was a scintillating start to the season back in Round 1 for the Raiders, who annihilated Stanmore 8-1 at Ernie Smith Reserve, with a brace of goals to Ben Welch and John Fahmi.
This is an opportunity for Stanmore to exact some revenge, so look out for an improved effort from the Hawks in front of their own fans.
Hawkesbury City will be keen to rectify recent occurrences when they welcome Dulwich Hill to David Bertenshaw Field for a 7pm kick off on Saturday night.
After leading the competition for so long, the Hawks have had their wings clipped in recent weeks, with losses to Dunbar (1-4) and Bankstown (1-3) seeing them tumble to 3rd spot on the ladder, five points behind St George City FA.
Two losses in their past three matches, and a loss of personnel during this period, means that Dully are in trouble of losing touch with the leading pack, having now dropped to 7th position on the ladder.
The two Daniels – Zahra and Morsillo – netted the goals which got the Hawks off to a great start back on day one in March, and Dean Bertenshaw will be more than happy with a similar outcome this time around.
Camden Tigers will flex their home ground muscles when they entertain the visiting Gladesville Ryde Magic to Ron Dine Stadium on Saturday night at 7pm.
Camden’s home ground record reads ominously – played 6, won 6, goals scored 23 – and it has helped them reach 8th position on the ladder in their first season back in the NSW NPL3 competition after promotion in 2017.
Amongst a host of solid performers is striker Jayden Russell, who has managed to nab 17 goals to be equal first on the list, a marvellous return of >1 goal per game.
Gladesville Ryde Magic have been flying under the radar somewhat, but with experience on and off the park, have managed to string together a run of games which has produced just the one loss in their past seven outings. Magic are now 4th on the competition ladder on 26 points, just one point behind Bankstown City and Hawkesbury City, as they continue to keep up with the top three.
Gladesville Ryde Magic started their season off with a win back on March 10 in Round 1, beating Camden Tigers 3-2 as ES Hall. The Gaitatzis brothers have often been the ‘go to’ men for Magic, as they were that day, with Chris scoring 2 and Michael grabbing the other.
Sitting seven points behind their match day opponents, this is an opportunity for Camden to close the gap and make a real dash towards finals football come season’s end.
Sydney University’s recent uplift in form will be truly tested when they meet Bankstown City Lions on Saturday night at the Syd Uni Football Ground at 7pm.
The ‘students’ made some personnel changes a few weeks ago – on and off the park – and have had a pick up in form as a result, winning two and drawing two of their last four matches.
Michael Loupis has been an astute signing and has been involved in all things attack for Sydney Uni, ably supported by Scott Tonkin, who is a menace to any defence on his day.
Bankstown City had a valuable 3-1 win over previous leaders, Hawkesbury City, in last week’s blockbuster, a match they simply had to win if they were to stay in some sort of touch with the top two. The win meant Bankstown hurdled the Hawks in to second spot, and are now within five points of leaders, St George City FA.
Ante Tomic has been the go to man for City, netting 17 goals this campaign, many from his deadly set pieces of free kicks and penalties.
Tomic in fact grabbed a brace back on the opening day of the season as Bankstown City beat Sydney University 3-0 in a feisty match which produced nine yellow cards – expect a similarly fierce encounter this time around.
In the only public holiday fixture, Granville Rage tackle Inter Lions at Garside Park at 7pm on Monday night, in a real six pointer between two clubs in the bottom half.
Both sides are sitting on 12 points, with Inter Lions in 11th position ahead of Granville in 12 spot courtesy of goal differential.
Inter had started to climb the ladder over the past month, and had strung together a decent run of results prior to last week’s reverse against Camden.
Granville on the other hand have been in dire form, losing their past five outings and copping 24 goals in the process.
Both sides have a decent gap on the two teams sitting beneath them, but they would equally be desperate for the three points on offer here if they harbour any hopes of climbing the ladder towards the top half.
Back in Round 1 at Fraser Park, it was Inter Lions who grabbed the points with a narrow 1-0 win, courtesy of Juan Chavez’s goal, in a match which produced 8 cautions – expect a similar closely fought battle this time around.