NPL 2 NSW Men’s Preview – Finals Series Round 2
The final four teams line up this weekend as the 2018 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s finals series takes another leap towards the Championship.
There can be no mistakes now. Patience. Precision. Decisiveness.
Will your team feel the pressure?
We await for the weekend to see who will rise above!
Mt Druitt Town Rangers vs. Mounties Wanderers – 7pm Saturday 8th September, Lily Homes Stadium
Rangers having stormed their way through the season come into this weekend’s game fresh after the week off whereas Mounties played out a hard slog against North Shore last weekend.
Often in the case of finals football, the week off can work for or against you. However for the hardworking Rangers they have taken it in their stride and are eager to return to the field.
Speaking to Football NSW, Rangers Coach Desmond wanted to give a bit of freedom to his side before they come into this week’s clash.
“I made it optional for the boys to go and watch football…get a break away from it all and just freshen up”.
“The side that has been dominant throughout the year, would you think they are starting to feel the pressure? Not for Rangers, “Not really we have had a target on us for a little while now,” said Desmond.
Rangers have been prepared all season and they will no doubt be ready for the challenge from Mounties, “I think we are playing one of the form teams…they are scoring goals, got a potent front line in Smith and the Spanish boys,” said Desmond.
“You have got to have a Plan A and a Plan B and we will just have to go and play our game and if we need to adjust we do so. I expect it to be a very tight game.”
Mounties come into the semi-final as the underdogs yet they are on a great run of form and have been a difficult side to contend with towards the end of the regular season.
Speaking to Football NSW, Mounties coach Palapanis is ready to get one over the Rangers and is confident his side have what is required to go all the way.
“We look good, we are the underdog playing against a good team.
“In saying that we are quite optimistic and there is a good vibe within the team,” he said.
Having previously coached a side that had the week off in the finals, Palapanis is weary of what it could entail come Saturday.
“I am hoping it effects them…I am not sure what prep they have done.”
“We have a game plan to hopefully stop their threat and I don’t think there will there will be too many goals it will be a tough one” he told Football NSW.
Buckle up ladies and gentlemen.
Can the Rangers continue to conquer all, or will the Mounties defy the odds?
It’s a classic set up for finals football and boy is it going to deliver.
Players to watch
Rangers coach Aidan Desmond just wants his team to keep the ball rolling as they have done so all year. At this stage you would expect players to step up but he is confident his side all have what it takes to get the job done.
“I don’t think it is any one, collectively if we all do our jobs collectively then it works. It puts pressure on the players if you say they have got to win the game for us.” he told Football NSW.
“If you look through our various lines in the team you find different players who have put their hands up.”
Coach Terry Palapanis has had his team working together as a cohesive unit to great effect and will continue that again in their biggest challenge of the year.
Speaking with Football NSW he eyed out a few of the Rangers players he believes they need to lock up to get the job done. “We will be looking to take care of Gonzalez but they have also got some other good boys up top too… Sato who is quite lively they are the threat for us.”
St George FC vs. Northern Tigers FC – 7pm Saturday 8th September, Ilinden Sports Centre
Attacking powerhouse St George will look to strike hard and fast against the Northern Tigers, a side that has proven their patience and determination in their quest for glory.
The Saints raced up the ladder in the last 6 rounds of the season, bagging goals left, right and centre, showing composure and clinical finishing in front of goal, securing themselves second spot. That all came to a halt in the final round of the season when Spirit stopped their run of form dead in its tracks.
Coach Wally Savor has had a lot to think and plan since then as the Saints come into this fixture with a week off from matchday football.
“Look at the Spirit game and say it’s a bit of a blib…it’s been a good break especially for the boys who had a few knocks so it has worked well for us in that regard,” he told Football NSW.
St George will continue their game plan as per routine and be well prepared for the big game. In saying that coach Savor knows that not only does his side need to fire in the attacking third, but they need to keep it locked up at the back if they are to be successful.
“When it comes to Semi Finals time its always important to score goals…but really defence is key. As far as I am concerned it’s the team that hold the strongest defence and keep clean sheets,” he said.
The lads in the stripes, depleted to 10 men, dug in deep to deny the Mariners any chance of getting back into the game last weekend. Typical to their game, as a unit they all stepped up and fought for their mate.
It will be more of the same again this week. Every minute of football will be played for the bloke standing next to him.
Coach Jason Eagar has prepared his side well and the Tigers are a team full of confidence and know they are capable of denying the attacking threat the Saints possess.
“Yes they have scored a lot of goals over the season but we have really tightened up our defence,” he told Football NSW. “We have improved considerably and will go in to the match with confidence.”
Despite knowing their opposition have had the week off, that is in the back of the Tiger’s minds as they have kept their heads focused and eyes on the prize.
“I think it can be a positive and can be a negative. For us we prefer keeping on a flow of weekly playing games and training and happy to continuing playing,” said coach Eagar.
It is time for all the mind games to be put aside and each team will be solely focused on doing what is required to get the win.
Will the Tigers patiently wait and pounce on their chances or can the Saints go marching into the Grand Final?
Players to watch
The Tigers go into the match with a suspension and a few niggles but will be looking as strong as ever according to coach Eagar.
“We have got plenty of players available and fit and I am confident we will be just as strong on the park as we were last weekend,” he told Football NSW.
Expect the core of the Tigers team to deliver once again and really take it to the Saints.
St George coach Savor will have his team playing to their strengths but are wary that at this stage of the competition anything can happen on gameday.
“I know Tigers are full of mobility, players out wide and in midfield who are happy to push forward into spaces in behind. A side full of running, good working and passionate players.”
-By Marcus Flottmann