The National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition will continue to produce its usual dose of thrills and spills this weekend with Round Eighteen spread over two timeslots, four matches at 7pm on Saturday, whilst the remaining three games will take place at the more traditional kick off time of 3pm on Sunday afternoon.
League frontrunners, Stanmore Hawks, will have a tricky match on Saturday night at 7pm when they entertain Dunbar Rovers at 7pm.
The Hawks have proven a formidable unit this season, with just the solitary loss across 17 rounds of football. But with Gladesville Ryde Magic and SD Raiders breathing down their neck and within a win of Stanmore, the home side can ill afford a slip up if they wish to remain perched at the top of the ladder.
But Dunbar Rovers remain a test for any team on their day, and will always provide an honest showing of themselves. Backing up after a confidence boosting win over Camden Tigers last week, Dunbar find themselves just six points outside the top six, and with plenty to play for.
Stanmore’s Jovan Blagojevic cancelled out Jacob Sullivan’s goal for Dunbar when the two teams met earlier this season in a 1-1 draw, so expect a similar battle royale at Arlington come Saturday night.
Dulwich Hill have a real chance to bridge the gap between themselves and the top six when they visit SD Raiders, the match scheduled to start at 7pm on Saturday night at Ernie Smith Reserve.
Dully’s three points from beating Sydney University last week means they are just five points from 6th placed Inter Lions, and can drag themselves a little closer with the spoils in this one.
But the Raiders have quietly ushered themselves in to 3rd spot on the ladder, just two points off the top, and will be favourites with the bookies to continue their march in front of their own fans, having won 4 games on the bounce.
The corresponding first round fixture back in early April gave the Raiders a narrow win by the odd goal in five, with the league’s top scorer, Anthony Proia, bagging a double, so don’t be surprised if there are more goals in this game with the attacking weapons from both teams on show.
Bankstown City will be desperate to stop their recent reversal of form when they welcome Camden Tigers to Jensen Park for a 7pm Saturday night kick off.
Three consecutive losses have seen the Lions knocked off the top of the ladder, and they now sit in 4th spot, desperate to address their mini slump.
Every team has a dip in form at some point in the season, and the season is long enough for any side to pick themselves up and return to winning ways. The quality in the Lions squad will guarantee a return to form soon enough, and Camden Tigers could very well be the recipients of a Bankstown side brimming with a desire for the available three points.
Camden will recall that they managed to overcome the Lions in a 7 goal thriller back in April, with the Brooker and Mugridge brothers each finding the net to snuff out Ante Tomic’s hatrick, so don’t expect the Tigers to succumb without a fight when the two sides go head to head on Saturday night.
Inter Lions will be eager to put last week’s loss against Gladesville Ryde Magic well and truly behind them when Granville Rage visit Valentine Sports Park No.3 on Saturday night at 7pm.
In what now seems like an aberration, given their form this season, Inter came unstuck last week, losing 1-4 to Magic in a disappointing first half from the inner west club.
Granville Rage have been struggling for form of late, with goals especially hard to come by, netting just 3 in their past 6 matches. The Rage could be easy pickings for an Inter side eager to return to winning form as soon as possible.
But Granville did beat Inter back in April when the sides first met this season, Liam Danes doing the honours to give the Rage all three points, so it won’t be a game the Inter faithful will take lightly.
In a match between two teams who are well and truly in form, Gladesville Ryde Magic battle Bankstown United in what promises to be an arm wrestle at Christie Park at 3pm on Sunday.
With Magic sitting 2nd on 37 points and Bankstown United 5th on 30 points, this clash looms as a real six pointer between two semi final aspirants, both hoping to consolidate their position near the top.
Gladesville have now won 4 games on the bounce, and are unbeaten in 8, in a real show of strength as they gear up for a powerful run home. With Tomaras, Triantis and Chris Gaitatzis joined by Dimitrios Sialmas in attack, you can see why any opponent will have to be on their game defensively if they are to take anything away from playing Magic.
But Bankstown United will be quietly confident of springing a surprise at Christie Park, they themselves on the back of a run of just one loss in their past 7 matches.
With Eros Bergamin pulling the strings in the midfield, and Mitchell Cross consistently finding the net – 16 goals in 16 games is a healthy return in anyone’s books – don’t be shocked if United walk away with something from Sunday’s match.
In a season where victories have been few and far between for both clubs, Western NSW Mariners and Parramatta FC will be out to scrap and battle for the three points on offer when they meet at Marjorie Jackson Field on Sunday afternoon at 3pm.
With just six wins between them, and separated by six points, this game could be a real battle for the neutral spectator, and may just produce an exciting spectacle.
Parramatta have plenty of experience to draw on to steer them to a win, but have the burden of travel that they will have to overcome – something that the Mariners have done exceptionally well to face every second week on their visits to Sydney.
Western NSW are at the foot of the ladder, but being only six points adrift of Parramatta, will see this as a motivation knowing there is no better time to close that gap and commence their ascent up the ladder.
Sydney University face Hawkesbury City on Sunday afternoon, the game kicking off at 3pm at the Sydney University Football Ground.
The Hawks are in buoyant mood at the moment, given last week’s 3-0 triumph over the high flying Bankstown City Lions on their own patch in front of their own fans. The win continues a solid run for Dean Bertenshaw’s men, unbeaten now in their past 6 matches with 3 wins and 3 draws.
Hawkesbury have quietly slipped in to equal 8th position, and are just six points from 6th position, so have plenty to play for come Sunday.
The ‘students’ will be out to address a slump which has seen them lose 6 of their past 7 games. Sydney University can draw some confidence from the fact that they overcame the Hawks back in April in the corresponding first round fixture, when Ian Hillier and Asha Phillips gave them a 2-0 win, so a repeat outcome in front of their own fans will be just the tonic for Uni fans.