Round 21 Preview – State League Men’s


Finals have come two weeks early! In this week’s penultimate round of the State League Men’s season, all top six sides are in action against each other. Question is, who will be the side to miss out in a couple of weeks?

Central Coast United v Western Condors; Saturday 10th August, 5pm @ Pluim Park

It’s celebration time for Central Coast United. Come the final whistle on Saturday evening, there’s a very good chance all three grades at the club will have secured the premiership. In first grade, they hold a six point lead on top after an important win last weekend over third placed Hurstville FC. It capped off three games in a week and although it wasn’t a pretty performance, champion teams find a way to win. If all goes well in this one, it’s their last game for three weeks so you can be sure they will be keen to cap off the regular season in style (both on and off the pitch afterwards).

Their opponents and last team to travel up the Coast in the competition are the Western Condors. The Condors have shown a second wind this season racking up three impressive wins in a row which has given them a shot at finals football. However, in an unkind twist to conclude their season, they face both the top two sides in the final two rounds. Last weekend, they ended Prospect United’s season with the highlight being Chum Him Yau getting back on the scoresheet after a recent goal drought.

So, a desperate Western Condors side will be determined to spoil a premiership party at Pluim Park. Are they good enough to do so?

Prediction: Central Coast United

Hurstville FC v Nepean FC; Saturday 10th August, 6:30pm @ Seymour Shaw

No team goes into a fixture wanting to lose. However, Hurstville FC have reason to be encouraged after their loss to Central Coast United. In their previous meetings, Hurstville had conceded a total of fifteen goals, so it was a sign of improvement in only losing by two goals last week. And that was with two of their key players in Paul Gagro and Pedro Almeida missing. Things won’t be much easier in this one either. In their last meeting with Nepean FC, they went down heavily in a night to forget at Cook Park back in Round 10.

It’s now or never for Nepean FC. If they are going to threaten in the finals this season, they will need to start playing themselves into form. Following on from a comfortable win over FC Gazy Auburn, they couldn’t get the job done against Balmain Tigers on the weekend. To be fair though, not many people could get any job done on a surface such as Cook Park. Anyway, they will be boosted by the return of Clement Waoci for this one. And this now serves as a chance to get back on the winning sheet against a team they’ve had success against in the past.

Writing a wrong. Both these sides come into their Round 21 clash with a point to prove after a disappointing result last weekend.

Prediction: Draw

South Coast Flame v Fraser Park; Saturday 10th August, 7pm @ Ian Mclennan Park

One win away from finals, two tough games. Yep, finals football starts early for South Coast Flame. They are within touching distance of a first time top five finish. Standing in their way though are two tough opponents who will be doing everything possible to stop them being there. Last week they played out a thriller against UNSW FC away from home. In that one they showed a lot of character to come back from a goal down at the break. Now it’s time for them to prove they belong in finals football having only won one game so far against Top 6 opposition.

Things change quickly in this competition. Last time we talked about Fraser Park, they still held premiership ambitions. Now suddenly, that goal seems out of reach with two games to play. So, it’s a different sort of test for the club based out of Marrickville with two rounds to go. Can they bounce back from a disappointing draw against UNSW FC last time out? Can they keep their performance up when there’s a lot to lose and not much to gain? If they answer those questions positively, it will take one mighty effort to deny them of a place on the big day mid-September.

Prediction: Fraser Park

UNSW FC v FC Gazy Auburn; Saturday 10th August, 7pm @ Ilinden Sports Centre

Well at least there’s now something to play for. UNSW FC will be keen to avoid the wooden spoon with two games left in the season. Last weekend they were on course to throw a cat amongst the pigeons in the finals series race when they led South Coast Flame at HT courtesy of goals to Ilan Kessler and Nima Beik. Unfortunately though, as has happened time and time again this season, they self-destructed and came away empty handed. Not too late to finish on a positive though and they could possibly come into this one as favourites.

This week they welcome FC Gazy Auburn to Ilinden Sports Centre. The visitors FC Gazy Auburn come into the fixture in horrible form which hit rock bottom last weekend. In that one, they went down to Hurstville City Minotaurs (a team who hadn’t won a game in two months). A second half goal for Samuel Head was a rare positive on a challenging afternoon at Progress Park. It looks unlikely but FC Gazy Auburn still stand an outside shot at finals football, but the next two games are must win.

Prediction: UNSW FC

Prospect United v Hurstville City Minotaurs; Saturday 10th August, 7pm @ William Lawson Park

Mathematically possible. Not the most welcome words in any change room but for Prospect United it’s now become a reality. They could still finish in a finals position, but it looks unlikely at this point. So how did it get to this point? Well, the easy answer: A heavy schedule last week which saw them play three fixtures last week (Draw vs Hurstville FC and losses to Central Coast United as well as the Western Condors). Now all that remains is club championship points and hopes for survival.

A win. Finally, a win for the Hurstville City Minotaurs! It was a long time coming but they finally opened their win account for the second half of the season. It came last Sunday afternoon against FC Gazy Auburn courtesy of a Seyfullah Eser double. As well as paying tribute for the efforts of Sharma-Constance in the victory, the General also singled out experienced defender Stephen Tomasich and goalkeeper Gareth Jamieson as key players in the win. Can they make it two wins in a row and avoid the dreaded last place finish?

The pressure valve has well and truly been turned off for both these sides with finals out of the question. But club championship points and pride are still there to play for.

Prediction: Prospect United.

Note: Thanks to Darren Watson who helped collect notes for the Round 20 review.

By Justin Smith (@smiththejustin)