The State League Men’s Finals race takes centre stage in this week’s Round 18 action.
No team is ever at full strength at this point of the season so the potential for upsets is ripe.
Featured Match: Hurstville City Minotaurs v Western Condors
Hurstville City Minotaurs raised many eyebrows and blew the race for the last finals position wide open last weekend. They were dominant producing chance after chance away from home at Nepean and came away with a three one victory at Cook Park. It’s the kind of result you need in the run in to turbocharge your hopes and with fine performances last week from Esoghume Dominic as well as experienced captain Angelo Vagenas. The Minotaurs are ready to battle for the coveted fifth position.
The smell of a wounded fifth placed team also has interested the Western Condors who are ready to swoop in at this pivotal point of the season. Last round they also secured a vital victory over a competing rival seeing off Hurstville FC in a tight fixture. A first goal of the season for Joshua Obeng was enough too see them through although the midfield combination of Alejandro Arregin, Hikaru Takase and Kaito Ikarimoto seems to be where the threat lies.
Suddenly this clash has some serious finals ramifications. For the hosts they definitely need a win to join the race, where as the visitors could find themselves inside the top five with a win.
Hopefully that will be enough to warm the appetite at St George Stadium.
Last Meeting: Western Condors 1-2 Hurstville City Minotaurs
Around the Grounds
UNSW FC v Prospect United
A week’s gap between games? What is this luxury? Never has a return to the training pitch been more welcome than it is now for UNSW FC. Last week saw them go down to Wagga and secure three points which didn’t come easily. The star of the show was Bede Leyland who picked up his third and fourth goal of the season.
They face a Prospect United side hopefully back closer to full strength after an unfortunate clash of dates with a wedding. They will need it as well after a tough loss to South Coast last week. One suspects the focus this week will be on being clinical up front through the likes of Joel Bayubahe, Benjamin Lam and co.
A game which a win means so much for both sides. One in finals contention, One in the promotion picture. Which team will grab the vital points on offer?
Last Meeting: Prospect United 0-4 UNSW FC
South Coast Flame v Central Coast United
Smiles were aplenty at South Coast Flame last week as they secured a victory to saviour. Didn’t they need it as high spirits will be needed in order for them to overcome this week’s challenge. Returning players should be added to compliment the likes of Caleb Grace and Dion Sterjovski who impressed last time out.
Let’s be honest, it was hard to see Central Coast United slipping up last week and it proved so cruising to a comfortable victory. The challenge now is switching back up into gear this week. Boosted by the return of hat-trick hero Adam Woodbine, their attacking quartet is back to full strength.
An intriguing ‘coast derby’ awaits us, the Flame have improved immeasurably since their last meeting, will it be enough?
Last Meeting: Central Coast United 4-1 South Coast Flame
Balmain Tigers v Hurstville FC
Sometimes a result doesn’t tell the fill story, last weekend Balmain Tigers faced a highflying Bankstown United and nearly came away with something. At this point of the competition you’re more than likely to face a side with something to play for. The question is can the likes of Swaray Kamara and his team cause an upset.
As if Hurstville FC needed any more motivation than a finals spot. Yes, they maybe down on a few numbers from the last time they met. However, a club such as this will be itching for some revenge from their last meeting. Attacker Cristian Di Meglio returns to the line-up for this week’s almost must win clash.
Hurstville FC keep getting chances to crack the top five. If they don’t take one soon, it might be time to wave goodbye to their finals aspirations.
Last Meeting: Hurstville FC 1-3 Balmain Tigers
Bankstown United v Wagga City Wanderers
It’s unprecedented territory for Bankstown United, the club have passed the seven wins in a row mark. More pleasingly was the way of which they won last week, for so long it looked like they wouldn’t come away with the points. They did in the end, largely thanks to a goal from Nathan Paull who scored with his first touch in first grade. The hosts will be boosted by the returns of Ryota Oketani and Jovan Miladonvic.
Nothing was expected of Wagga City Wanderers last weekend, so perhaps surprisingly they went out and took it to UNSW FC on their home turf. Doesn’t get easier for the Wanderers though and they will need to be at their best to make sure things don’t get out of control here.
The focus at Bankstown United is doing what they can to keep Central Coast United honest.
This week will be no different, 21 club championship points is a must.
Last Meeting: Wagga City Wanderers 0-7 Bankstown United
FC Gazy Auburn v Nepean FC
“You got to put the past behind you”, that piece of wisdom comes from one of my favourite childhood movies. Indeed, there isn’t much to write about in terms of FC Gazy Auburn this week. They found themselves on the end of a ferocious Central Coast United storm last weekend and will be keen to bounce back.
Well surprisingly, Nepean FC still find themselves in a form slump and we’ve given up with predicting when it’s going to halt. They will be expected once again to bounce back this week as they match up against FC Gazy Auburn. The question comes down to their mental strength since it’s been a while since tasting that winning feeling, not a place you want to be in leading into finals.
It’s vital for Nepean to pick up the points in this one, can they?
We’ll find out that and more this weekend.
-By Justin Smith