The heat is on in the run in towards the Finals series of the National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition, with all fourteen teams no doubt beginning to throw caution to the wind as we approach Round Twenty, due to be played this weekend.
Last weekend we enjoyed 28 goals across just 6 matches, an indication that some teams won’t die wondering, whilst others may display some cracks under pressure, so sit back and enjoy the show as well as more goal mouth action as each club tries to make a positive run home.
The league’s two bottom-placed sides do battle in Mudgee, with the Western NSW Mariners hosting Granville Rage at Glen Willow Stadium No.1, the kick off scheduled for 5-30 on Saturday afternoon.
The Mariners are bottom on 6 points, just 4 points behind the Rage, and can ill afford a loss if they wish to bridge the gap and try and avoid the wooden spoon. But they need to snap a losing streak that has extended to nine matches, and no better place to do so in front of their own fans.
The corresponding first round fixture back in Round 7 on April 20 resulted in a 1-0 win for the Mariners, courtesy of an Adam Scimone goal, and a repeat outcome will do very nicely indeed for the home side here.
Arlington Oval’s tenants in common will do battle for residency bragging rights when Dulwich Hill entertain Stanmore Hawks on Saturday night at 7pm.
Dully are struggling to make any inroads towards the finals, with three losses in their past four outings seeing them drop to 10 points behind 6th place.
Stanmore on the other hand are going from strength to strength, now sitting 5 points in front at the top of the league, and have a real belief and plenty of motivation towards winning the title.
The first time these two sides met back on April 20, Stanmore prevailed by 2-1. The scorers that day for the Hawks were Jovan Blagojevic and Peter Yannopoulos, who have continued to be instrumental in Stanmore’s rise to first position. Blagojevic is currently second of the list of the competition’s top goalscorers with 20 goals to his name, whilst Yannopoulos has contributed a healthy 14 goals of his own, and is fifth on the same list.
On paper it looks likely to be a Stanmore triumph, however, we all know that derbies are not normal games, and usually dish up the unexpected.
Footnote: as in previous years, Dulwich Hill FC have once again chosen to devote a day in the football calendar to supporting the McGrath Foundation, a charity which offers support and assistance to individuals experiencing breast cancer, as well as their families, and this season it is this week’s encounter against Stanmore Hawks. It has been and is a fantastic initiative, and one that the entire football community should and could support in any number of ways. Dulwich Hill will put aside their usual playing strips, and wear a specially made pink playing strip, from the Under 13s fixture right through to the 1st Grade fixture which will kick off at 7pm.
Additionally, it will be quite simple to donate funds to the charity – you can click on the following link – https://pullonyoursocks.mcgrathfoundation.com.au/page/DulwichHillFC2019 and follow the prompts to support a great cause. The day will be celebrated with a carnival atmosphere, with plenty of food and drink available throughout the day, so let’s make sure the football community gets behind a great initiative.
SD Raiders will be keen to get on the park and tackle Parramatta FC at Ernie Smith Reserve at 7pm on Saturday night.
The Raiders were warming up last week in their expected clash with Bankstown City when the lights went out at Jensen Park. It may have worked against both teams because the rescheduled fixture is now to be played midweek, on Wednesday, July 17 – meaning a 4 day turnaround for both sets of players.
Parramatta FC will have a 7 day turnaround, but are also coming off the back of a 3-1 away win over Dulwich Hill, and with a renewed confidence, will be hopeful of springing a surprise.
SD Raiders won the first round fixture at Melita Stadium by 3-1, which included a brace of goals from the league’s top marksman, Anthony Proia, who has netted 21 goals this season to date.
Nothing but a home victory will suffice if the second placed Raiders are to continue their quest towards the top of the ladder.
Two teams occupying top six positions will go head to head at Jensen Park on Saturday night with Bankstown United clashing with Inter Lions at 7pm.
Separated by a single point on the ladder – Inter Lions are 5th on 35 points whilst Bankstown United are 6th on 34 points – you can see why this is a real six pointer between two sides who have surprised many this season.
It has been a few years since Inter Lions have found themselves in the running for a semi final berth, but they have worked hard to consistently pick up points, evident in their 4 wins from their past 5 outings.
Bankstown United have done extremely well in their maiden season in the NSW NPL 3 competition following their promotion from the State League, and have picked up some big scalps in recent weeks on their way to 34 points, including those of Gladesville Ryde Magic as well as local rivals, Bankstown City Lions.
Mitchell Cross has been banging them in for fun for United – he has 16 to his name so far this campaign, including the solitary goal that gave Bankstown United a 1-0 over Inter Lions when the teams met back in April.
Expect no inch given in this top six arm wrestle on Saturday night.
Camden Tigers will be hoping to flex their home turf muscles when Hawkesbury City visit the Ron Dine Stadium on Saturday evening at 7pm.
Six wins from seven matches at home means no team can look forward to visiting Ron Dine, and those wins include 4 goal hauls against Sydney University and both Bankstown sides, and 6 goals last week against Gladesville Ryde Magic.
Hawkesbury City may be sitting in 10th position on the ladder, but they are a stubborn side to overcome. The Hawks’ defensive line has conceded 28 goals, a number only bettered by the top two sides in Stanmore and SD Raiders, and in Daniel Schwarzer, they have one of the competition’s best goal keepers in recent seasons.
Hawkesbury had their biggest win of the season when the teams met back in Round 7 on April 20, with goals by Kwadwo Boamah-Addai (2), Ryan Wilson and Brad Gibson producing a 4-1 result.
With both sides locked on 24 points and separated by just one goal, expect a physical battle royale with three valuable points on offer.
Dunbar Rovers will be aiming for another three points in their quest for Finals football when they visit the Football Ground at Sydney University, the match scheduled for a Saturday night 7pm start.
Currently occupying 7th position on 26 points, Dunbar are 8 points from 6th placed Bankstown United, who are playing 5th placed Inter Lions. Any result in that game will prove beneficial for Dunbar, as long as they can bridge the gap with a win.
One win in their past six outings has seen the ‘students’ slump to 12th spot on the ladder, so they themselves are desperate for a victory as they look to push away from the bottom two rungs.
Dunbar Rovers overcame a 1-2 half time deficit to post a 3-2 triumph when these two teams met back in April in the corresponding first round fixture – a similar result this time around would keep the Rovers contingent on track towards the finals positions.
It is a clash of two of the league’s heavyweights at Christie Park for the only match of the round to be played on Sunday, with Gladesville Ryde Magic up against Bankstown City Lions at 3pm.
Separated by a single point on the ladder, with Magic 3rd on 37 points and the Lions 4th on 36 points, this game promises to be a classic as both teams strive to stay in touch with the top two.
Gladesville Ryde Magic have hit a bump in the road in the past fortnight, losing two games on the trot and conceding 10 goals in the process, a statistic made all the more remarkable by the fact they had conceded just 23 goals in the preceding 17 games.
An issue with the lights at Jensen meant that Bankstown City had no game last weekend, but they are scheduled to play this fixture against SD Raiders on Wednesday, July 17, meaning a shorter turnaround. Prior to last weekend, the Lions had beaten Camden to snap a losing streak themselves that had extended to three games.
In the Round 7 encounter earlier this season, it was Bankstown City who won comfortably to the tune of 4-1 at Jensen Park, so Gladesville will be out to exact some sort of revenge in the return fixture.
With so many attacking weapons on either side, and with so much at stake, get out to Christie Park to see some heavy hitters put on a spectacle not to be missed.