Finals Series Round Two – National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s Preview
And then there were four!
The National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition moves in to Week Two of the Finals Series, where the two Semi Finals will produce this year’s Grand Final combatants, as well as end the season for the other two remaining clubs.
The 2018 Premiers, St George City FA, and runners-up, Hawkesbury City, have had a week off to recharge their batteries, so let’s take a closer look at their matches this week against Dunbar Rovers and SD Raiders respectively.
Hawkesbury City FC v SD Raiders
Valentine Sports Park No.3 – Saturday, September 15 at 5.30pm
If the two season’s encounters are anything to go by, you can expect a very tightly contested battle at Football NSW headquarters on Saturday evening, when Hawkesbury City meet SD Raiders in a blockbuster.
Hawkesbury’s young striker, Daniel Morsillo, is the only player from either side to have found the net when these two teams have met this season, and he did so back on April 14 in Round 6 when Hawkesbury prevailed 1-0 at David Bertenshaw Field.
The return fixture at Ernie Smith ended scoreless, so you can see there is very little between the sides.
One reason for that is the form this season of the two respective goal keepers.
Hawkesbury’s Daniel Schwarzer and Michel Rutherford of SD Raiders both have a strong presence between the sticks, and are effective shot stoppers in their own right.
Schwarzer doubles up as the Hawkesbury skipper, is very vocal, and is responsible in a big part for his team’s record of having the second best defence with 32 goals conceded.
Rutherford came in to his own last weekend, pulling off a superb save to deny Bankstwon their 6th spot kick in the dramatic penalty shoot out win that helped the Raiders continue their season.
Will the synthetic surface at VS3 bring out some more goal scoring opportunities for both sides than the two previous encounters, or will there be another arm wrestle that takes us long in to the night to determine a winner?
Get yourself out to Valentine Sports Park No.3 to see the drama unfold.
2018 Previous Encounters
Round 6 on April 14th at David Bertenshaw Field;
Hawkesbury City 1 (Morsillo)
SD Raiders 0
Round 19 on July 14th at Ernie Smith Reserve;
SD Raiders – 0
Hawkesbury City – 0
ST George City FA v Dunbar Rovers FC
Fraser Park, Marrickville – Sunday, September 16 at 3-00pm
The odds are seemingly stacked heavily in favour of the Premiers, St George City FA, when they entertain Dunbar Rovers at Fraser Park on Sunday afternoon.
St George City FA are the current Premiers in NPL 3 Men’s competition, they have had a week’s rest as a result, and they are playing on their home turf.
Dunbar Rovers squeezed in to the Finals Series in 6th position, had a tough Elimination Semi Final last weekend where they overcame Gladesville Ryde Magic 4-1, and will now be travelling to play the competition’s Premiers away from home.
St George City’s stats make ominous reading coming in to this Semi Final.
St George City won 18 out of their 26 matches, and were beaten just 3 times – one of those times being at Hensley Athletic Field back in Round 14 when Dunbar prevailed 2-1.
St George City also boast the best attack with 79 goals, at over 3 goals a game, whilst also conceding just 23 goals, nine goals better than their nearest rival.
A mainstay of their performances has been the fact that four of their back five – keeper Chris Marques, left back Kyoji Mori, right back Sean Thomas, and skipper and central defender, Bill Tsanidis, have been present in almost all of the league games, creating a stern understanding reflected by the goals conceded column.
With a nice blend of youth and experience, all demanding a starting berth in the Finals Series, you can bet St George City FA will be primed to continue where they left off in Round 26.
Dunbar Rovers come in to this match with nothing to lose.
A team that finishes 6th in the competition is not expected to jump hurdle after hurdle after hurdle to land the coveted Championship title!
But Dunbar have always possessed a fighting spirit that sees them play until the referee’s whistle is blown, a dogged determination that simply won’t roll over nor give in when the going gets tough.
Few would’ve given Dunbar Rovers a chance against the high flying, high scoring 3rd placed Gladesville Ryde Magic last weekend, but the Rovers were quietly confident, and executed the game plan to perfection.
Ryan Shaughnessy was the conductor once again, with a number of able support musicians in his band, and Dunbar edged in front before moving in for the kill to win handsomely in the end, by 4-1.
The fact that Dunbar did beat St George City FA this season will surely give them the confidence to do it again.
The excitement of the traditional finals series in Australian football is that all the data and form guides in the world go out the window, because if don’t show up on the day, your season could be over before you know it.
2018 Previous Encounters;
Round 1 on March 10th at Jubilee Oval;
St George City FA 2 (Messam, Yannopoulos)
Dunbar Rovers 0
Round 14 on June 9 at Hensley Athletic Field;
Dunbar Rovers 2 (Doddy, Garces)
St George City FA 1 (Messam)