The race for finals football is in full swing in the National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition with round 21 just around the corner.
The action will be spread over four timeslots throughout the weekend with six matches on Saturday while the solitary tie on Sunday night will wrap up proceedings.
Hawkesbury City FC will be looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat when they entertain SD Raiders FC at David Bertenshaw Field this Saturday night, the match scheduled for a 5:30pm kick off.
Home comfort has proved the saviour for Hawkesbury City this season, having fallen short on just two occasions at David Bertenshaw to date this campaign.
The Hawks were soundly beaten away to Camden last time out and will be happy to return home as they prepare to do battle with the form side of the competition.
Currently occupying third place on the ladder and undefeated in their last 10 encounters, Raiders seem to have hit their stride at the right time as we fast approach finals football.
The reverse fixture at Ernie Smith Reserve saw Raiders triumph 2-0 over Hawkesbury – a similar result this time around would keep the high-flying Raiders firmly on track for a top three finish.
A resurgent Parramatta FC will be hoping to heap further misery on Gladesville Ryde Magic when they welcome them to Melita Stadium at 6:30pm on Saturday night.
Prior to last week’s defeat against Raiders, Parramatta recorded back to back victories for the first time this season, against the Mariners and Dulwich Hill respectively.
The mid-season pick up of Sheldon Tweedie has proved a revelation for the Eagles with the midfielder having registered six goals in his last three outings.
Magic’s season has derailed of late, the 4th placed outfit have suffered three straight defeats and are at risk of falling out of contention of finals football if the rot continues any longer.
They have uncharacteristically shipped an alarming 14 goals over the last three rounds and have now joined the fight for 4th and 5th place opposed to battling out at the top of the table, as they had been doing for most of the season.
Parramatta were unfortunate not to come away with a result the time these two sides met at Christie Park with Magic running out 1-0 winners in that fixture back in round 8.
Dulwich Hill FC will be up against it as they host finals contenders Inter Lions FC at Arlington Oval on Saturday night with proceedings set to get underway from 7pm.
Dulwich Hill have suffered three defeats on the bounce and arrive into this round following a 2-0 defeat against arch rivals Stanmore Hawks.
They have struggled to find any sort of consistency this campaign and will need almost a near perfect run in if they want to make the cut for the top six.
Inter Lions continue to perform week in, week out and are currently in a tight battle with Magic and Bankstown United in the battle for finals football.
Their 11-0 thumping of Granville Rage three weeks ago has done wonders for their goal difference, they are over 10 goals better off in that department compared to their close competitors.
Inter Lions won the first-round fixture against Dully, 4-2 at Valentine Sports Park and will be keen to replicate a similar result as they look to take a stronghold on their position among the top six.
Bankstown United FC will be red hot favourites to take all three points from their upcoming encounter away to Granville Rage with the tie set to kick off at 5pm at Garside Park on Saturday night.
A 1-1 draw in the bottom of the table scrap against the Mariners in Mudgee saw Rage put points on the board for the first time since their encounter against Hawkesbury at the beginning of June.
Their opponents, Bankstown United have more than proven themselves as a force to be reckoned with in this league and will very much be banking on a return to winning ways come this weekend.
An effort from United’s Eros Bergamin was all that separated the sides the last time they went head to head at Jensen Park.
6th placed Bankstown look on course to complete the double as they aim to keep pace with the top five.
Last placed Western NSW Mariners will make the trip to Sydney this Saturday, namely Hensley Athletic Field, as they prepare to do battle with Dunbar Rovers FC at 7pm.
Dunbar’s last five games provides a snapshot of the season that the eastern suburbs outfit has experienced. Each one of their last two victories has been followed up by a loss in what has largely been a rollercoaster campaign for the 8th placed side.
A disappointing 1-0 defeat away to Sydney University in their latest fixture means that they will be in desperate need for a comfortable victory this Saturday as they look to make a late assault for finals football.
Western NSW Mariners plug away week after week and were finally rewarded with a share of the points last round against Granville.
Despite being stuck at the bottom of the table for much of the campaign, the men from the west continue to compete and this weekend will be no different as they look to spring a surprise on their latest opponents.
A 10-man Mariners side fought until the very end in their first-round fixture against Rovers in Orange as the visitors ran out 3-1 winners following the dismissal of Western’s Duncan Logan.
A captivating tie is set to take place at Ron Dine Stadium as Stanmore Hawks FC make the trip to the Tigers’ den to face Camden Tigers FC on Saturday night at 7pm.
Down the years, Camden have been notorious for their incredible home record thanks to their vocal supporters. This year has seen been no different, with the Tigers home record pivotal to their current 7th placed standing.
They have suffered just the solitary defeat at home this season and will be more than confident that they can claim another scalp when league leaders Stanmore come to town.
The Hawks have been on a spectacular run of form of late and sit top of the ladder with 47 points with a healthy five-point lead over 2nd placed Bankstown City.
These two sides played out arguably the most entertaining fixture that we have seen in the competition this year when they last met, the match ended all square at 3-3 at Arlington Oval at the end of April.
Stanmore stormed to a 3-0 lead at half time and were on course to record a routine victory before a second half resurgence saw the Tigers restore parity.
This match is sure to provide us with plenty of action and surprises this weekend and will be a stern test for the Hawks as their rivals watch on to see how they handle one of the league’s most difficult away trips.
Bankstown City FC will be looking to make it four wins in four matches as they prepare to do battle with Sydney University SFC at Jensen Park on Sunday night at 6pm.
The future is once again looking bright for Bankstown City following a mid-season slump at the end of June which saw them fall to three consecutive defeats.
Captain and club leading goal scorer, Nikola Todoroski reached the 20-goal mark last weekend when he weighed in with a goal in their 4-0 drubbing of Magic.
Sydney University currently occupy 11th place and arrive into this fixture with their heads held high after they registered a 1-0 win over Dunbar at home last weekend.
Bankstown ran out 5-1 winners in their corresponding first round fixture at Sydney University Football Ground, with Todoroski netting a brace on that occasion.
A similar result coupled with a defeat for the league leaders could see the Lions close the gap to just the two points when the full-time whistle blows on Sunday.
-By NPL 3 NSW Men’s Chief Writer Samuel Greco Schwartz (Twitter handle: @SamuelGS97)