Round 16 Preview – State League Men’s


Take a minute and go look at the State League Men’s table… Have you ever seen anything like it? Yeah, predicting how it’s going to end up in just seven weeks seems impossible with everyone in with a shout. So, let’s buckle in and enjoy Round 16 of this uniquely poised competition.

Match of the Round: Balmain Tigers v South Coast Flame; Sunday 7th July, 1pm Ilinden Sports Centre

Yeah what a shock. I am once again making my way to Ilinden Sports Centre for a State League match… I think I have a decent excuse; it’s been a while since we’ve caught up with the South Coast Flame who need a win as they travel up the M1 for an early Sunday kick off.

Bump in the road or full on crash? Balmain Tigers had an unexpected loss to UNSW FC last weekend. And it didn’t take much for it to happen in the end with a five-minute period where they switched off resulting in two goals. So, focus is the key for this week as they try and match their performance from a fortnight ago against one of the competitions heavyweights.

Player wise, they will be stronger this week as a few faces will return into the starting lineup. In a competition where it’s so tight around the middle section, momentum is crucial, and Balmain Tigers will want to make sure they don’t lose it.

South Coast Flame are a weird case. Let me explain, there is definite signs of improvement from what we saw from them early in the campaign. Yet they aren’t winning? So, they’re winning when they aren’t playing well and dropping points when they are. My head hurts but not as much as theirs if they don’t pick up a win in this one.

Last weekend they were gallant in defeat up at Pluim Park. They took the lead through a thunderous strike from Louis Connell but couldn’t hold on (fair enough it was against Central Coast United). But they mustn’t let many more points slip starting this week.

Hard one to predict… When in doubt, go for the home side.

Prediction: Balmain Tigers.

Fraser Park v Hurstville FC; Saturday 6th July, 7pm @ Fraser Park

Well if there were any doubts about Fraser Park’s mental strength after a Round 14 loss. They were snuffed out in spectacular fashion thanks to a fifteen-minute turnaround last weekend out at Cook Park.

Sparked by a Luiz Lobo worldie, the visitors went on and clinched the win courtesy of a Shu Torihara stoppage time winner. However, that will all mean nothing if they drop points before a potential premiership decider next weekend up the coast.

And don’t underestimate the travelling Hurstville FC. In fact, the last time these two met, that’s exactly what happened, and Hurstville FC ran out 1-0 winners. This week’s visitors will be in high spirits as well after blowing away their neighbours in the derby.

It was the first time this attack has seemingly clicked and as a result Adrian Livio scored a double whilst Sebastian Coello and Jesse Gagro also scored.

Buoyed on by a spectacular come from behind win last week, it’s hard not to see 2nd placed Fraser Park winning this one. Although Hurstville FC will fancy themselves, they’ve surprised them before.

Prediction: Fraser Park

Prospect United v Central Coast United; Saturday 6th July, 7pm @ William Lawson Park

Some teams just rise against a certain opposition. It has happened before when Prospect United have met Central Coast United and they’ll be hoping lightning strikes twice this season.

We have our doubts though as Darren Camilleri’s men are in the midst of a nasty injury crisis which could explain the fact, they haven’t won for over a month now. However, they will remember their famous Pluim night and perhaps that will inspire them onto another unlikely victory.

Central Coast United are looking the goods to go one better than last season and will be keen to go into a clash with Fraser Park next week on the back of a win. But first they need to take care of some mental demons away to Prospect United.

Yes, it is the fixture which ultimately cost them the promotion last season. combined with their first meeting this season and fair to say they’ll be keen for a win. They will be looking to improve as well after scrapping past South Coast Flame last week.

Revenge is a powerful motive, that combined with a weakened home side leaves no other choice.

Prediction: Central Coast United

FC Gazy Auburn v Nepean FC; Sunday 7th July, 3pm @ Progress Park

Had you written them off? I’ll confess, I had, and I don’t think I was the only one doing that. But FC Gazy Auburn made their way back into the winners circle last weekend with a victory over Prospect United. They were back to their dogged, determined best against on the road last weekend coming home with a victory courtesy of a double to striker Esoghume Dominic.

In team news they’ll have to do it this week without regular starter Hassaniyan Al Zaidy who’s out suspended. A win here would further entrench them within the five, quite the obstacle for their visitors to overcome.

This competition isn’t short of a shock result. The question in this one will be how Nepean FC react having dropped a two-goal lead last weekend. Yes, everything was looking rosy for Nepean FC when they raced out to a two-goal advantage against Fraser Park.

Things can change quickly in football though and you’d suspect there was plenty of reflection inside the inner sanctums of Cook Park. They’ll be keen to recapture the form they were in and the addition/return of Jamie Dib could do just that.

Nepean at the best are one of the top sides in the competition. Will they be able to get to their best though?

Prediction: Nepean FC

UNSW FC v Western Condors; Sunday 30th June, 7pm @ Ilinden Sports Centre

Suddenly the finals don’t look that far away for UNSW FC. They will need to win five of their last seven to stand a chance though and the next step is against the Western Condors this week.

Last weekend they claimed their first win since mid-May in defeating Balmain Tigers courtesy of goals to Ilan Kessler, Daniel Cooper and Florim Binakaj. In a boost for them, Nima Beik will come back into the team meaning they actually have a fit striker.

Well there’s one thing you can guarantee when the Western Condors play a game of football: Goals. In their last five fixtures, the condors have scored sixteen goals whilst conceding nineteen. So, I wonder what they were working on in training this week?

Before the break it was a high-scoring lower table shootout against the Minotaurs. Sure, they’re entertaining to watch, but it won’t matter for the Condors if they don’t get a win soon.

Get ready for a good old-fashioned shoot-out. UNSW just have the better defense though, so I’ll opt to jinx them.

Prediction: UNSW FC

By Justin Smith (@smiththejustin)