Round 14 Preview – State League Men’s

R13 Prospect vs Fraser. Sebastian Giunta #sgphotographics

Another week closer to the finish line in the State League Men’s and with just seven points separating positions three to tenth, every result counts.

So, let’s get stuck into things shall we!

Central Coast United v FC Gazy Auburn, Saturday 22nd June, 5pm @ Pluim Park

It wasn’t there best performance and could’ve easily gone the other way but Central Coast United survived a late scare last weekend against UNSW FC. Good sides just find away to win and I’m frankly sick of saying that about this Central Coast side.

But moving on as this competition is not about me. Last week was highlighted by a double to perhaps the unsung hero of this side in Alex Arbelo. His just one part of a fluid front four for United who will no doubt cause this week’s opponents headaches.

Another fixture, another draw. In a close competition and with the stakes being raised as we approach the final sprint, that is bound to happen. FC Gazy Auburn though are determined to make a statement and kick start a serious finals challenge. You can’t question their spirit, clinching that point late on away at South Coast Flame last weekend.

Who from? Haydar Al-Ameri who is now their clear top scorer, twelve games into the season. One thing is for certain though, they specialize at grinding out games and their hosts in this one will have to be on guard.

FC Gazy Auburn haven’t been so pumped for a game for a while and if they win it will send a shockwave across the competition. It is Central Coast United though and everything will have to go right for that to happen.

Prediction: Central Coast United

Hurstville FC v UNSW FC, Saturday 22nd June, 6pm @ Seymour Shaw

Teams are closing in around Hurstville FC on the edge of the top 5. A loss could see them drop out of the final’s places. While a win would have many around the club taking a much-needed breath of relief. Last time out before the bye, they shored up a previously leaky defense in a draw against fellow finals contenders FC Gazy Auburn.

It marks just one step of a few if they are to return to their early season form. The most important of them? Scoring goals.

Everything was there last weekend for UNSW FC, everything but a win that is. The game against Central Coast United was very similar to a certain clash last year and had a finals feel about it. However, if UNSW are to make the finals, things will need to go right for them from here on in.

And there are positive signs for them, they just need Nima Beik to continue his form and eliminate a few defensive mistakes which cost them on a slippery night at Ilinden Sports Centre.

Both these sides have waited a while since their last victory. But despite what the standings suggest, one would think it’s the away side closer to a victory.

Prediction: UNSW FC

Nepean FC v South Coast Flame, Saturday 22nd June, 7pm @ Cook Park (St Mary’s)

Are we seeing the same signs which signaled the turn of form for Nepean FC last season? There was a sign of routineness about their victory over Hurstville City Minotaurs last weekend. Normally one wouldn’t praise such a performance but when it’s this certain club well, it’s a welcome relief with their form resembling quite the rollercoaster ride.

This side really is a team so when they play well, everyone seems too. If one piece of the puzzle is off though, maybe their opposition this week can cause an upset this weekend?

There really isn’t a lot between all teams from third position down to last in this competition. Leading that pack though is South Coast Flame who are perhaps this seasons surprise packets in the competition. If they are to remain though, draws will need to turn into victories.

In their ‘home clash’ against FC Gazy Auburn, they conceded a 94th minute equalizer to cancel out an earlier Justin Smith strike. As previously mentioned, the competition is so tight at the moment, a win here though for South Coast Flame would be some statement!

Nepean are a good side and there’s a sense things are just starting to click at the foot of the mountains.

Prediction: Nepean FC

Fraser Park v Balmain Tigers, Saturday 22nd June, 7pm

The Fraser Park we are all familiar with is one who score multiple goals week in week out with a certain freedom. Last week showed a rare glimpse of their other capabilities though when they toughed out a victory over Prospect United (a side they struggled against in round two as well).

In that performance it took their leader Christian Soares to step up and score the winner off a Luiz Lobo assist. They’re a strong unit as evidenced by their table position and we’re set for an epic battle for the 2019 premiership.

You only have to look back to last season’s mid-season window to see how it can change a season. This year though it seems the main beneficiaries of the chance to mix things up is Balmain Tigers. They’ve won three of their past four fixtures including victories over Nepean and Prospect.

Last weeks was the most important though in which they proved they can turn things around when things don’t go right. Having lost a two-goal lead against the Condors, a remarkable piece of goalmouth action ended up in hat-trick hero Frank Calgano claiming the winner.

It’s a good measuring stick for Balmain Tigers. Have they progressed enough to challenge the league leaders or has it come too soon?

Prediction: Fraser Park

Western Condors v Hurstville City Minotaurs, Sunday 23rd June, 3pm @ Chopin Park

Well they still have some ticker left in them. Looking at form alone can sometimes be deceptive to where a team is actually at. One of those teams are the Western Condors.

The Condors were unlucky last weekend to go down to Balmain Tigers last weekend in potentially the most entertaining game of the weekend. Goals came from Chun Him Yau, David Muller and Christian Martinez to bring the score back to 3-3 but unfortunately it wasn’t to be conceding a late heartbreaker. At least it’s obvious where their problems lie, tighten up the defense and it’s a whole new ball game for this side.

In contrast, the anxiety levels around the Hurstville City Minotaurs camp must be growing. Apart from a couple of encouraging periods at the beginning of either half, they seemed to be a level below Nepean FC last weekend.

Of the most urgency for the Minotaurs is finding another route to goal apart from Thiago Rabinovich. In recent weeks, teams have paid extra close attention to the striker and frustration around the camp is growing. If there is a positive to look forward to though, the last time they faced a clash like this they beat UNSW FC.

Possibly the toughest game to call across the weekend. Not much between them at all so maybe the home advantage sways the ledger slightly.

Prediction: Western Condors

By Justin Smith (@smiththejustin)