Round 25 – National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s Preview
Round Twenty Five in the 2018 National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competitions should provide a little clarity in terms of the Top Six, the Premiership, as well as the Club Championship in what promises to be a highly charged round of football.
Let’s take a closer look at the seven matches over the weekend as we scrutinise the mathematical possibilities with just 180 minutes of football remaining in the competition proper.
Dunbar Rovers will be looking to confirm their Top Six finals spot on Saturday when they travel to David Bertenshaw Field to take on Hawkesbury City at 5-30pm.
Sitting in 6th position on 43 points, Dunbar have a five point gap over Sydney University with two matches remaining, and will look to confirm their place with a victory over Hawkesbury.
But the Hawks have other things on their mind, given they are currently 2nd on the ladder on 48 points, knowing they will look forward to a second chance come finals time if they can maintain this spot.
Dunbar prevailed 4-1 the first time these teams met back on May 26, and given they hit a purple patch of late, with 4 wins in their past five, the Rovers will be hoping to continue tat form with another triumph on Saturday.
Stanmore Hawks will love to upset the Gladesville Ryde Magic applecart on Saturday night when the two sides meet at Arlington Oval in a derby of sorts at 7pm.
There is always a carnival atmosphere when these two sides meet, both rich in history, and the Hawks will be hoping for a positive result in front of their own fans.
Sitting 3rd on 46 points, Magic can ill afford to drop any points on Saturday, especially if they are to snare a top two spot to give themselves a second chance come finals time.
The Round 12 encounter earlier this season was a closely fought affair, with Alec Caragher giving the Hawks a half time lead. But Michael Gaitatzis and Nick Ioannides struck in the second half to give Gladesville the spoils, and a similar result here will do very nicely indeed for the Magic faithful.
Maximum points and survival will be front of mind for Fraser Park on Saturday night when they welcome Inter Lions to Marrickville for a 7pm kick off.
These two sides occupy two of the bottom three spots on the ladder, with Inter 12th on 19 points, whilst Fraser are propping up the ladder on just 8 points for the campaign.
However Fraser Park are also bottom of the Club Championship ladder, just 25 points behind the Western NSW Mariners, so they will be desperate for maximum points – across all three grades for that matter – if they are to give themselves a chance of retaining their NPL 3 status next season.
Last time these two teams met back on May 27, Fraser Park had three players sent off on the way to a 1-2 defeat, so it goes without saying that Fraser will need to keep their discipline in check if they are to take any points home on Saturday.
Granville Rage entertain Dulwich Hill at Garside Park on Saturday night at 7pm with not much more than pride at stake for both sides.
The two teams are separated by just three points on the ladder, with Dully holding the upper hand being in 9th spot on 30 points, and Rage in 10th on 27.
Granville have steadily climbed the ladder in recent weeks on the back of a fruitful and unbeaten six match run, only ending last week in a narrow 0-1 reverse against Hawkesbury.
Dully have had contrasting fortunes, now on the back of a two match winning streak after a horror 9 game winless streak, and they will look to keep Rage at arm’s length on the ladder by avoiding defeat at Garside.
St George City FA can reach a couple of objectives on Saturday night, but they couldn’t have chosen a more difficult place to do so when they travel to Ron Dine Stadium to play Camden Tigers at 7pm.
St George City FA are top of both the league ladder in 1st grade, as well as the Club Championship.
Victory in the first grade clash will confirm the 1st grade Premiership title with a game to spare, whilst also going a long way to confirming the Club Championship.
But Ron Dine Stadium has been a tough venue for away teams. In fact, Camden won their first nine encounters on home soil before dropping any points, so they will be up for it against the league leaders.
It’s been a great first season for Camden following their promotion from the State League in 2017, and now that their finals hopes were dashed last week, they will love nothing more than picking up the scalp of the league leaders.
Separated only by goal difference, expect a fierce battle at Ernie Smith Reserve on Saturday when SD Raiders meet Bankstown City Lions at 7pm.
Both sides are on 45 points, with the Raiders in 4th spot and Bankstown in 5th, and both will be desperate for maximum points to try and snare second spot away from Hawkesbury City, who are three points ahead in 2nd.
The Raiders have come from no where to bridge together an 8 match unbeaten run that has catapulted them right back in the Finals mix, including a 5-1 mauling of the Mariners last week where Daniel Bittar netted four times in a superb personal display, taking his season tally to 19.
A stalemate will do nothing to help either side in grabbing a higher place in the Finals, so expect a little caution to the thrown to the win as these two heavyweights battle for the spoils.
Sydney University will be out for nothing less than three points on Sunday afternoon to keep any faint finals hopes alive when they face Western NSW Mariners at 3pm.
Sitting in 7th position on 38 points, Sydney University are 5 points behind a finals spot with just two matches remaining. So a win here against the Mariners is a must to give themselves a chance, although they are also hoping for Dunbar to come unstuck against Hawkesbury.
The Mariners are on a run of poor form in recent weeks, losing four on the trot and conceding 19 goals in the process, so they’ll be motivated to stop the rut and make the long trip home a fruitful one.