The National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Mens had some big matches on offer this week and resulted in some big results.
The league is squeezed tight all the way from top to bottom and winning results is the only way to break free of the stranglehold.
Here is how the action played out!
Match of the Round
Blacktown Spartans v Macarthur Rams
Spartans made their intentions clear that they belong in the race for the final six, whacking six past the Rams in front of the home fans.
Despite the final score line, it was the Rams who were out of the blocks the quickest as a back post cross found Clement Ebahece Waoci who controlled and fired at goal. The low driven shot forced Spartans keeper Michael Figueira to get down quickly to palm the shot before it ricocheted into the post and out.
The following exchanges in the opening minutes were a little frantic at times as each side looked to impose their will in the match early.
It would be the home side who came out on top in the early periods after a corner was cleared to Lachlan Rose, who whipped in a perfect cross to Josh Tanner to head home.
The opening goal did not deter the efforts from the Rams, the next best chance fell to Sam Onana Awono who streaked down the right wing after winning the ball back and rifled a shot at goal. This time beating the keeper and striking the underside of the bar only it rather unbelievably rebounded out.
As the match continued, neither side really maintained a comfortable hold on possession and both were having difficulties building up and breaking down the defence.
That said, Spartans made the most of the few chances created and caught the Rams napping a little at the back on the counter. A deep cross found Lachlan Rose who fired across for Connor Eldridge to tap in from close range.
With minutes to half time the Rams went agonisingly close to pulling a goal back as Sam Onana Awono audacious volley was saved once again by keeper Michael Figueira. Spartans shot stopper then denied Clement Ebahece Waoci effort from inside the box to keep his sheets clean at the break.
Returning from the break, the match continued to be an arm wrestle in midfield, but Spartans knowing they had the lead began to settle and look more composed on the ball.
Again they made the Rams pay for napping at the back as a long clearance played in Lachlan Rose who slid the ball under the keeper and into the net. The goal opened the flood gates and Spartans fired another three goals in ten minutes, obliterating the Rams hopes of a comeback.
Another good counter press saw the home side win the ball back in the opponents half and quickly on the counter fired wide to Lachlan Rose, whose driven shot arrowed into the bottom corner.
That was four and minutes later number five was netted by Finley Hayhurst. Spartans Lachlan Rose once again proving pivotal, spun his defender and his shot forced an impressive save. The men in orange swarmed the rebound and just keeping it in and cutting back to Hayhurst who tapped home.
Number six and the icing on the cake for Spartans was a little fortunate, when a freekick into the box rebounded perfectly for Josh Tanner to fire home from close range.
After the sixth goal it was all smooth sailing for Spartans and the game fell into a contest in the middle of the park with little action at either end of the pitch.
In the dying embers of the game, Rams still searched for a consolation and were almost rewarded, Jamie Dib firing a low driven shot to force a save, but after copping six and out of gas no-one was there to follow up.
Spartans a dominant second half display earning them the three points and creeping towards sixth spot on the ladder.
Blacktown Spartans FC 6 (J. Tanner x 2, Lachlan Rose x 2, Connor Eldridge, Finley Hayhurst)
Macarthur Rams FC 0
Blacktown Spartans FC: D. Akol, H. Brown, C. Eldridge, L. Fraser, F. Hayhurst, M. Ireland, J. Orchard, E. Patramanis, K. Roberge, L. Rose, J. Tanner, N. Tarasenko, S. Tokuno, C. Torrelli, M. Ward, M. Figueira
Macarthur Rams FC: M. Arcosa, J. Dib, C. Ebahece Waoci, L. Fatica, A. Guzman, A. Haddad, J. Hilton, E. Kambisios, D. Lazarevski, J. Madden, Y. Maruyama, S. Onana Awono, C. Sheerin, M. Stojanovski, M. Trotter
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 3 vs. Hills United FC 0
Bonnyrigg sent out a warning sign to the rest of the league on Saturday evening as they man handled league leaders Hills, claiming a comfortable victory to keep in touch with the top six.
In the opening fifteen minutes the home side piled on the pressure creating numerous chances and were rewarded when some good build up from Richie Darko on the wing led to Jack Armson firing home to open the scoring.
Darko was proving to be the influential figure in the Eagles attack and it was from his free kick that led to Asmir Kadric firing home the hosts second.
The first half honours went to the Eagles and in the second period there was more fight back from Hills yet neither side really could claim periods of dominance.
Reaching the last twenty minutes, substitute Mark Symington completed the scoring after getting onto the end of a through ball before calmly finishing.
St George FC 0 vs. Northern Tigers FC 1
With both sides in need of points, it was another tense game that seemed would end in stalemate until the Tigers struck late to snatch victory on the road
It was a good battle for the full ninety with both sides creating their share of opportunities, Juan Carlos Heras Romero once again dangerous for the Saints. For all the hard work both sides lacked the finishing touch at the last to pull ahead.
Ultimately it was a tactical move that worked in favour of the visitors as they pushed for the winner later in the match. Adding some more pace out wide to get in behind the defence paid off with Rory Spiers notching the sole goal of the match to give the Tigers the win.
GHFA Spirit FC 5 vs. Canterbury Bankstown FC 0
Spirit were back on fire in the front third, smashing five past Canterbury for the second time this season and squeezing more pressure on the top three on the ladder.
The hosts faced what could have been a tricky test against the relegated threatened Canterbury, instead, they nailed two early goals to put them in the box seat for the match.
Two well worked moves from set pieces saw both Louie’s get on the score sheet early for Spirit. Louis Bozanic firing home from a cutback and Louie Zaharopoulos on the end of a rehearsed corner routine.
The remainder of the half was kept evens, however at the return of play the action picked up again.
Canterbury came out with a little more fire to get back into the match, however, against a composed Spirit, they were unable to break through.
Spirit would respond by firing three goals in the space of four minutes midway through the second half that effectively ended the affair.
The home side relished having Louis Bozanic back in the side and he struck again to complete his brace. Shortly after super-sub Travis Cooper fired home and the performance was capped off by a good finish from Christopher Arditti.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 vs. Central Coast Mariners FC 1
It ended in a tense stalemate in the A-League Academy encounter, neither side willing to relent.
Central Coast began in the ascendancy forcing a couple of early saves before Michael Katsoulis fired home, raising the stakes for the Wanderers.
The home side responding in kind shortly after when their deadly duo connected. Marley Peterson found Mohamed Adam with a through pass and he made no mistake in finding the net.
The match continued to provide entertaining football and both ends of the park there were golden opportunities to take the lead. The Wanderers went within inches on a couple of occasions as shots from Rory Jordan and Mohamed Adam crashed into the post and crossbar respectively.
Not to be outdone, Central Coast had their own close calls, Alec Vinci conjuring up some great chances including cracking one against the post.
Ultimately it would be called evens with neither side able to connect and strike the net once again.
St George City FA 3 vs. Rydalmere Lions FC 2
With both sides in need of points, it was always going to be a long on a Sunday afternoon and the result was up for grabs right until the last.
Rydalmere opened the scoring through a strong header from Abuzar Awar. City responded just on the stroke of half time
Out from the restart, the Lions pulled back in front quickly on the back of some good build up play which ended in Adam Sayour firing a volley into the back of the net.
Shortly after, the hosts were awarded a penalty and converted from the spot to once again level up the scores.
The Lions were influenced by the strong play from Garang Awac, yet the match continued to be a battle between the sides.
Eventually a winner was scored, City netting in the last minute of the match to take all three points and jump the Lions on the ladder.
North Shore Mariners FC 2 vs. Mounties Wanderers FC 4
The arrival of one Mark Bridge certainly did not disappoint and Mounties seemed to step up a gear to battle past North Shore and claim a hard fought victory to cap off the round.
It was a fiery in the opening minutes with a couple of heavy challenges from both sides, trying to assert their physical dominance in the match.
North Shore shortly turned to more finesse and had the lead in the sixth minute when Chris Lindsay delicately curled his free kick over the wall and into the bottom corner.
The home side took charge following the goal, however, Mounties would rally and through strong will and determination, levelled up. Sean Rooney connected a strong header from a corner which was saved off the line, Benjamin Spruce reacted the quickest and launched above the pack to head home the follow up.
The goals kept on coming with North Shore firing the next blow, Rainer Smahel smashing home from a bit of a goal box scramble. Minutes later though, the ball was once again in the back of the net. Sean Rooney taking aim from a free kick and picking out the top corner with precision.
It was a highly entertaining match and more opportunities soon arose as Mitchell Smith went close with a header for North Shore. Up the other end, Mounties had more success, some clever interplay led to a shot which ultimately rebounded up into the air before Tai Smith rose highest and nodding home
From the restart North Shore again were hottest to start and did net another goal, however, it was called back for offside. Mounties though maintain on course and a clever through ball saw Sean Rooney beat the keeper to the ball and nip it past into the net.
The excitement didn’t stop there, Daniel Saric was sent off to make the comeback trail that much more difficult for North Shore. Sean Rooney almost secured his hattrick with another free-kick, keeper Ryan Wood making the save of the day to deny.
Mitchell Smith made every effort to secure something for the home team but his header from the six yard box couldn’t hit the target.
Mounties winning number four on the trot and earning vengeance for their heavy defeat earlier in the season.
A final note – Thank you to Football NSW for the opportunity to cover NPL football, the fans and a big thank you to the players, our stars of the show.
This is goodbye for now, but I am sure I will see you all again on the pitch soon!
Eric Subijano will now take charge till the end of the NPL 2 NSW Men’s season.
NPL 2 Chief Writer – Marcus Flottmann
Twitter – @MarcusFlottmann