The first spot in the State League Men’s 2018 Grand final is up for grabs this weekend but firstly we must sort out who survives another week.
A thrilling Saturday afternoon of finals action awaits us in week two of the finals series.
Semi-Final 1: UNSW FC v Nepean FC, Valentine Sports Park 3 4pm
Let’s sum up UNSW FC’s season and in turn last weeks performance. A brain snap, rush of adrenaline, lapse of concentration has cost them at the crucial moment. It’s hard to take a lot out of last week as such an event happened relatively early on in the contest when Michal Lalik brought down Cade Mapu as the last man. Signs were encouraging before that though with the students often finding themselves on the front foot for the twenty minutes beforehand.
It caps off a horrible run of form having no won a game since the dinosaurs were around (about six weeks ago). It’s the kind of form you would expect from a team struggling to set up a solid defensive unit due to injuries and suspensions. No such issues in the attacking half however with Luiz Lobo, Christian Soares and Bede Leyland looking dangerous up front.
A chance for UNSW to write the wrongs of last week and a couple of disappointing performances throughout the season against this week’s opposition.
So, it turns out Nepean FC have planned the latter part of their season perfectly. Leading into this week’s contest against UNSW FC, they have won five of their last six fixtures. None of those more impressive than last week as they comfortably swept aside Prospect United in the elimination final. In that performance they came out full throttle and never gave Prospect the chance to settle. scoring within the first fifteen minutes and not letting up on their opposition.
In a performance of which it was hard to pinpoint a single individuals’ contribution, that of Jamie Dib stood out. He was at the centre of almost every single attack which was pretty frequent given the amount of times the ball was won in central midfield. The attack minded midfielder combined well with wide-men Mubarak Saeed and Paul Chester who pinned back their opposition fullbacks effectively.
Can Nepean FC make it three from three against UNSW FC this season, you wouldn’t bet against them based on last week.
Semi Final 2: Bankstown United v Central Coast United, Valentine Sports Park 3 6:30pm
Can a team back up in the finals series after winning the regular season in such dramatic circumstances? That is the question of which Bankstown United will have to answer in the forthcoming three weeks. If you were living under a rock two weeks ago, Bankstown won the premiership by beating Western Condors, scoring a winner inside the last ten minutes whilst another goal was scored across town.
So, let’s talk strengths and weaknesses, their major strength is their character. So many times, particularly in the latter half of the season, Scott Belgre’s men came from being in a precarious position. In that aspect a week off was welcome and they aim to make it a treble come grand final day. In terms of players, it’s hard to argue they have the strongest squad in the league whether it’s Mitch Cross supported by Toshihisa Saikawa and Matt Sadler up front. The experienced heads of Shane Webb and Steven Wright in leadership roles with a solid keeper in David Hamilton. Then you have the depth coming off the bench with Sean Robertson and Nathan Paull coming off the bench, this side is one to envy.
In winning the title, suddenly Bankstown United have gone from the hunters to the hunted. How will they adapt to that, I guess we’ll find out Saturday night?
Who do they play? They play a side with a particular score to settle. In looking back at the season, the tittle was won when these two sides last met which means Central Coast United have a score to settle after conceding twice late on which tipped the premiership on its head. That is in the past however and if they play in a similar vain to last week where they overcame UNSW a belt a weakened UNSW, they will be a match for their opponents.
It marked a return for captain Daniel Mcfarlane who had been missing for the last two weeks of the regular season and they were better off for it. He formed a part of a trio including with Alex Arbelo and Cade Mapu in a striker less formation which caused UNSW headaches particularly on the counter. Their team otherwise will be unchanged and ready to secure the first grand final position.
It’s a familiar fixture but this time the roles are swapped. Who will come out on top in a clash between the two best sides all season?
By Justin Smith