The congestion in the top half of the National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition is as murky as ever, with so much to play for in the ten rounds of football remaining.
Only eight points separate the top six sides, whilst the first four teams are being kept apart by a miserly two points – meaning any one of them could be at the summit by the end of Round 17 on Saturday night.
All seven clashes in Round Seventeen will take place on Saturday, spread across four different timeslots over a four hour period.
Hensley Athletic Field plays host to the fixture between Dunbar Rovers and Camden Tigers at 3pm to kick start the round, with both teams a point apart in the back half of the ladder.
With just the one victory in their past five outings, Dunbar will be keen to grab all three points and begin to bridge the seven point gap between them and the top six.
Sitting one point above Rovers on 21 points, Camden likewise would like to make a play for the spoils to drag themselves closer to the top as well, and with one loss in their past six matches, have some form on the board to back themselves here.
In fact, it could very well be a case of retribution that motivates Camden Tigers at Hensley on Saturday – Alexander Crane grabbed two first half goals in the corresponding Round 4 fixture at Ron Dine Stadium back in March to give Dunbar Rovers a crucial away win.
Bankstown City Lions will be out to stop a two match losing streak when they visit Hawkesbury City on Saturday, with the match kicking off at 5-30pm at David Bertenshaw Field.
Losses to Inter Lions and Bankstown United in the derby has not only seen the Lions knocked off top spot on the ladder, but it has also brought them back to the rest of the field, with Bankstown now occupying 3rd place on 33 points.
Hawkesbury City have proven a stubborn opponent in recent weeks, unbeaten now in 5 games on the back of two wins and three draws, a solid run given their depleted stock.
The first round match ended in a 1-1 stalemate at Jensen Park, with Ante Tomic’s goal for the Lions cancelling out Danilo Cocaro’s strike for the Hawks – but the Lions will be a little more desperate this time around as they hope to return to top spot once again.
Two teams with contrasting fortunes of late go head to head at Garside Park on Saturday night, with Granville Rage meeting SD Raiders at 5-30pm at Garside Park.
Even though the Rage haven’t picked up a win since early April, they can take some hope from the fact that both victories this season have come at their home patch at Garside, and they will be aiming to make that three on Saturday afternoon as they try to clear further away from bottom spot.
But they will have their work cut out for them when they face a Raiders side that have lost just once in their past 10 games, a run that has seen them climb to 4th position, just two points from the summit.
Raiders had a convincing 4-0 win in the first round, with goals from Ben Welch, John Fahmi, and a brace from the competition’s leading marksman, Anthony Proia – it is difficult to bet against the Raiders replicating that result on Saturday.
Dulwich Hill will be keen for all three points at Arlington Oval on Saturday night when they welcome the visit of Sydney University for a 7pm kick off.
Sitting 7th on 21 points, Dulwich Hill can ill afford a slip up if they are to make a climb towards the top six, which are six points away.
Dully’s form has been erratic at best of late, with just the one win and three draws in their past seven games, so expect a more determined showing from the home side in this clash.
Sydney University need a drastic form reversal if they are to prove a challenge to Dully on Saturday – the ‘students’ conceding 27 goals in their past 7 games, six of those losses.
Yoel Silvestre and Gosue Sama netted for Dully back in March in Round 4, and another win here will be just what the doctor ordered for the Arlington Oval faithful.
Inter Lions have an opportunity to claw to within two points of Gladesville Ryde Magic when the two sides meet at Valentine Sports Park No.3 at 6-30pm on Saturday night.
Six wins in their past seven matches have catapulted Inter in to 5th position on the ladder on 29 points, just five behind second placed Magic, who are on 34 points.
But Magic have been in great form themselves, with 3 wins on the bounce netting 13 goals, on the back of an undefeated run of seven matches.
All eyes will be on Gladesville’s star recruit – former AEK Athens striker, Dimitris Sialmas – who last week grabbed a hatrick against the Western NSW Mariners.
It was Magic who prevailed when the two teams faced off back in Round 4 in March. Even though Inter’s veteran, Domenic Di Mento, found the mark for the Lions, Kostandinos Nikas, Chris Triantis and Christos Tomaras replied for Gladesville to give Magic all three points at Christie Park.
Expect a tense tussle on Saturday night with no inch spared.
Parramatta will have their work cut out this Saturday night at Melita Stadium when they face the Stanmore Hawks at 6-30pm.
With 10 wins and five draws from 16 rounds of football, the Hawks are sitting pretty, perched at the top of the league ladder after hurdling previous leaders, Bankstown City Lions.
Stanmore’s success is built on the league’s tightest defensive record with just 17 goals conceded in 16 matches, whilst they have managed 43 goals at the other end of the park, lead by Jovan Blagojevic’s 15 strikes.
A repeat of their first round encounter will keep Stanmore at the top, a match where the Hawks triumphed 3-1 at Arlington Oval with the goals coming from Harrison Brown, Peter Yannopoulos, and Aydin Kumburlu.
Bankstown United will be out for the three points on offer at Jensen Park on Saturday night when they meet the Western NSW Mariners at 7pm.
United are in 6th spot on the ladder on 27 points, within arm’s reach of 5th placed Inter Lions, a great effort thus far for the newly promoted club.
Mitchell Cross has lead the way with 13 goals this season, whilst Eros Bergamin has been instrumental in an attacking midfield role, evidenced by his long range cracker in the derby a couple of weeks back.
The Mariners are on the back of a dreadful run of six consecutive losses, conceding 26 goals in the process, so have it all to do if they hope to take anything back from the long trek to Sydney.