It’s a Super Saturday in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition, with all seven games to be played on the same day. From now until the end of the season, the pressure will only increase as the teams jockey for position.
Match of the Round: St George City FA v Northern Tigers, 3:00pm Saturday 6 July, Jubilee Oval
Our featured game takes place on Saturday afternoon, as St George City FA host fellow finals hopefuls Northern Tigers. These sides had contrasting outings on the weekend: City conceded a late goal in a loss to Blacktown Spartans, while the Tigers were firing on all cylinders against Canterbury.
Despite Sunday’s defeat, City are in good recent form, and have five victories in the last seven rounds. There were positives to come out of the defeat to the Spartans. Goalkeeper Chris Marques made some good saves, and Corey Gameiro returned to the lineup, which could be crucial as City are nearly in must-win territory if they are to make the finals.
Everything came together in attack for the Tigers against Canterbury, as Liam McConaghy hit form with a bang. He was ably supported by Rory Spiers and Oliver Wiggin, the latter netting his first goal of the year. Of course, it’s not just about attack for Adam Hett’s team, and Tonu Liiband saved a penalty at a crucial time to help the Tigers to victory.
Central Coast Mariners v Canterbury Bankstown FC, 4:00pm Saturday 6 July, Pluim Park No. 1
The other Saturday afternoon match sees Canterbury Bankstown travel north to face an unpredictable Central Coast Mariners side.
Central Coast are still outside the finals places, however a good run could vault them into the top six. They had a tough loss against North Shore on Sunday, but can take heart from the fact they pushed the league leaders for 90 minutes. Alec Vinci’s versatility could be key: after playing in midfield and at right back earlier in the year, Vinci is now partnering Lewis Miller in the centre of defence. A big defensive performance will be welcome for a team that hasn’t kept a clean sheet since Round 8.
This trip to Pluim Park breaks up Canterbury’s run of home fixtures in the back end of the season. They pushed Northern Tigers for much of the contest on the weekend, now it’s just a matter of maintaining that level for a full game. Six goals in their last three matches means they have the ability to trouble opposition backlines, and some new names are appearing on the scoresheet: on Saturday Goncalo Paradanta grabbed his first goal since returning to Canterbury, and Jake Bradshaw also ended a mini goal drought.
Blacktown Spartans v Hills United, 7:00pm Saturday 6 July, Blacktown Football Park No. 1
Both teams should be confident following crucial victories on the weekend: Blacktown Spartans grabbed a late winner against St George City FA, and a strong first half performance for Hills set up their victory over Western Sydney Wanderers.
The Spartans have four wins in five rounds, so it will be interesting to see if they can keep this momentum going against a Premiership contender. Given the strength of the Hills frontline, Spartans goalkeeper Michael Figueira could be critical to his side’s chances of success. At the other end of the field, Paul Hubbard’s wide players keep producing, as Lachlan Rose and Shun Tokuno both found the net on Sunday.
Last week, Hills made amends in the best possible way after losing their top of the table clash against North Shore. Patrick Zwaanswijk’s men displayed a variety of attacking threats against the Wanderers. Jordan Parfait and Kento Sakurai scored spectacular goals last Saturday, and Glen Kelshaw also impressed with his overlapping runs from right back.
GHFA Spirit FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 7:00pm Saturday 6 July, Christie Park No. 1
We’re set for a big one at Christie Park, as third placed Spirit FC meet sixth placed Bonnyrigg.
Spirit are undefeated in five weeks, but a couple of draws has seen the top two start to edge away from them. Travis Cooper continues to be a useful attacking option, and has seven goals, including three in his last four games. David Perkovic’s side know they need to control the midfield against Bonnyrigg, and Futoshi Kondo is very important in this respect.
Bonnyrigg might have been disappointed not to take all three points against Rydalmere on the weekend. However, they are undefeated in four rounds, and the White Eagles can take confidence from their previous match against Spirit, a tight 1-0 win back in April. Head coach Wayne O’Sullivan will need more big performances from the likes of skipper Sam Gallaway, while Ray Miller has impressed as a substitute in recent weeks.
St George FC v North Shore Mariners, 7:00pm Saturday 6 July, Ilinden Sports Centre
Although the two teams are at opposite ends of the table, this may very well be a close contest.
Despite plenty of good spells in recent games, the Saints are now winless in five weeks. It’s not getting any easier for them as they host the league leaders, and there is also the Waratah Cup semi-final against Sydney United 58 to test their squad depth. On the plus side, tall striker Kevin Lopes was back amongst the goals, and this is a team that can threaten anyone else in the division on their day.
For North Shore, the message might be: just keep doing what you’ve been doing. Six victories in eight rounds have taken Joe Haywood’s side to the top of the league, and they always seem to find a way to get the job done. On the weekend, North Shore captain Ricky Woodward picked a great time to open his account for season, netting the only goal in their win over Central Coast. The skipper wasn’t the only one to impress: Hugo Forlico showed his adaptability by playing as a centre back, and speedy winger Braden Cheng constantly asked questions of the defence.
Mounties Wanderers v Macarthur Rams, 7:00pm Saturday 6 July, Sydney United Sports Centre
Mounties will hope to continue their climb up the table at Sydney United Sports Centre, but Macarthur showed that they can hang with the top teams last week by drawing against Spirit FC.
After six wins in seven weeks, you can’t rule Mounties out of Premiership contention just yet. Their full array of attacking talent was on display against St George, as Noah Chianese, Mitchell Davidson, Tai Smith and Bruno Pivato all made telling contributions. Meanwhile, Sean Rooney has scored six times in the last six rounds, and he is now the leading marksman for Brian Brown’s side.
Claudio Canosa is looking for a repeat performance as the Rams attempt to collect vital Club Championship points. Scoring goals has been a problem all season, however Mohamed Kardoli may be the man to provide some answers – he definitely made an impact against Spirit FC. Out wide, Macarthur have the pace of Sam Onana Awono to test the Mounties backline.
Rydalmere Lions v Western Sydney Wanderers, 7:00pm Saturday 6 July, Valentine Sports Park No. 2
Two sides looking for an upturn in form face off at Valentine Sports Park, as Rydalmere host Western Sydney Wanderers.
Rydalmere haven’t won since Round 11, but they did end their losing streak with a hard fought draw against Bonnyrigg on Saturday. The Lions are facing the league’s leading scorers, so goalkeeper Harrick Sinpraseuth will probably be needed to make saves at some point. Rydalmere have weapons of their own though: Mitchell Gibbs netted a remarkable goal against Bonnyrigg, and Garang Awac was a handful up front.
It was an uncharacteristic first half from a defensive standpoint for the Wanderers last week, and the first time they have conceded more than twice in a game this year. However, the deadly duo of Mohamed Adam and Marley Peterson both scored against Hills, and the Wanderers are yet to lose two in a row this season, so they’ve shown the ability to recover from setbacks.
By Eric Subijano (@eric_subijano)