The pieces on the board have been moved into place in the State League Men’s Competition. Now we await a devastating move which will either secure a finals position or even the premiership. Without further to do, bring on Saturday night and Round 18 action.
Match of the round: Hurstville City Minotaurs v Central Coast United; Saturday 20th July, 7pm @ Valentine Sports Park
It’s an old tale of sorts, the leagues best attack faces the leagues worst defense on Saturday night at what’s bound to be a chilly Valentine Sports Park.
It’s been five weeks since we last caught up with Hurstville City Minotuars in a match of the round. Five very long weeks. In that time, the Minotaurs have conceded 12 goals across three games making it 45 goals conceded overall.
Last weekend against Balmain Tigers, they were involved in yet another high-scoring shootout going down four goals to three. So, if there’s one thing assured when they take the park, it’s goals.
Things didn’t go to plan for Central Coast United last weekend. In last weeks preview I said that a fortnight’s rest leading into that contest could benefit them. I was wrong as they struggled to keep up with their visitors throughout the first period.
And weren’t they punished conceding three goals on the back of individual errors? That was as against second placed Fraser Park though who are probably the only team with the ruthless efficiency to punish them. This week the rust should have been shaken off and we should expect the Central Coast United of old.
Only one result looks likely in this fixture. Central Coast United will be keen to bounce back after last weekend and couldn’t have asked for a better fixture.
Prediction: Central Coast United
Prospect United v UNSW FC; Saturday 20th July, 5:30pm @ Blacktown Football Park No.1
Just as winning becomes a habit, not winning becomes a habit. Even from improbable positions, Prospect United are unfortunately finding a way too lose. Last week Stephen Vukovic looked to have secured a winner into stoppage time against South Coast Flame.
But in no time at all, their hosts on the night went down the other end and won a penalty which was converted. You can only imagine it was a long road trip back to Western Sydney after not winning since the 26th of May. Will this be the week that changes?
The first clash between these two sides hurt UNSW FC. It was one of many games this season of which they could’ve come away with something yet in the end came away with nothing. Speaking of which, last week they let a goal lead slip against Nepean FC despite having a man advantage for much of the second half.
It was an all too familiar bitter blow and perhaps their main motivation for the rest of this year’s campaign should be avoiding the spoon at all costs.
After last week’s set of results. Suddenly a finals finish looks very unlikely for both these sides but if only hope remains, the only result which will do in this one is a win.
Western Condors v Nepean FC; Saturday 20th July, 5:30pm @ Chopin Park
The years competition has presented the next Yanny vs Laurel debate: Western Condors have scored and conceded the same as fourth place Balmain Tigers. But can you guess what position they sit in? Last weekend they bit off more than they could chew early on conceding two goals to Hurstville FC.
Despite bringing themselves back into the match and controlling a fair portion of the play, they couldn’t find an elusive 2nd goal despite a great free kick from captain Gabriel Gomes. Alright I’ve given you enough time… the answer is 9th, weird competition indeed.
Heart and character. So far, they have been the two missing ingredients for Nepean FC this season. It’s alright to show them as a one off, but the challenge for the team at the foot of the mountains is to display them consistently. Last weekend after going down to ten, Nepean FC turned up the gears and came away with a memorable come from behind victory against UNSW FC.
Central to that win was the performance of the returning Jamie Dib who played apart in both goals. We’ve seen this as a one off before though (Central Coast R1, Western Condors R7 and Hurstville FC R9), the question is can they back it up?
I think they can, they simply now have too much to play for and should come out on top.
Prediction: Nepean FC
Fraser Park v FC Gazy Auburn; Saturday 20th July, 7pm @ Fraser Park
The pressure valve has been turned off at Fraser Park. It’s one of the joys of being the chaser not the chased. With finals secured, they can go out and play knowing that only a major slip up will give them a shot at promotion.
In the meantime, they host this week’s fixture in high spirits after making it two wins from two against Central Coast United this season. In that contest, they simply blew their hosts and yet still, there’s a lot more to come with their front three of Luiz Lobo, Matthew Nezval and Shu Torihara not displaying their best in that one.
They will come up against a team whose last game was three weeks ago. Yep, a combination of a washed-out fixture and a bye mean FC Gazy Auburn will be lacking a bit of match practice. And the draw hasn’t been friendly either matching them up against top of the table Fraser Park.
However, this side has surprised us before (even against Fraser Park), and they have the potential to do it again. If so, Esoghume Dominic will have to be at his clinical best once again.
Last time FC Gazy Auburn came up against the table toppers, it was a 9-1 defeat. So, they have a lot to prove in this one, too much to prove…
Prediction: Fraser Park
Balmain Tigers v Hurstville FC; Saturday 20th July, 7pm @ Ilinden Sports Centre
Balmain Tigers have played five of their last six fixtures at Ilinden Sports Centre and haven’t they made the most of it. So why not go out with a bang as they host third placed Hurstville FC in their final hurrah at the venue for season 2019. Last weekend, they once again found themselves in a tussle against a side they really should be winning comfortably against.
But the important thing is they’re winning such matches now and in doing so have found another regular goal scorer in Manuel Angelopoulos to support the efforts of Frank Calgano.
This week won’t be easy though, Hurstville FC are suddenly in a rich vein of form and a win here puts them within touching difference of an assured top five finish. They will have confidence as well coming off a trademark performance against Western Condors.
After scoring two goals early, not many teams have the capability of breaking them down and so it proved. Seven goals in three fixtures is an improved return offensively and they’ll look to continue that here.
When in doubt, go the home team. There’s nothing in this one, so don’t surprise if it goes the other way.
Prediction: Balmain Tigers
By Justin Smith (@smiththejustin)