Finals Series Round 1 Preview – State League Men’s


So, after 110 games, 417 goals and countless memories made during the State League Men’s 2019 regular season.

We now turn our attention to the finals series to crown a champion.

Will premiers Central Coast United complete their dominance this season or will another step up and claim the championship come mid-September? Time will tell and our journey starts now.

Elimination Final: South Coast Flame v Hurstville FC; Saturday 24th August, 5pm @ Ian McLennan Park

There’s no second chance for both South Coast Flame and Hurstville FC this weekend as they play out this week’s elimination final.

Well they left it late, in fact the latest you can possibly leave it, but South Coast Flame come into the finals series as one of the form sides of the competition. A win against this week’s opposition in the last round was the latest of three victories in their past four appearances. With the other two wins coming over UNSW FC and Hurstville City Minotaurs. When all was said and done, they finished in fourth position with a total of 29 points, however their achilles heel of the season has been their results against the sides above them so they’ll have to raise their game from this point forward.

This week, the Flame will see the return of one of their best in midfielder Matthew Mazevski after serving a week’s suspension. The young squad are captained by goalkeeper by Matthew White. Whilst they lack the experience of other squads, they make for it in enthusiasm and raw talent. In a promising sign, it was Julio Mushaba and Yuki Mandai who stole the show last weekend which will only grow the team’s confidence for their sudden death final. In terms of goal scoring threats, we look to young striker Louis Connell and the fitness of Hiroaki Ushijima who is in doubt for this weekend’s clash. It’s the biggest game in the club’s short history and we can’t wait to see what they can do on the big stage.

In contrast to their opposition, Hurstville FC finished the season in truly disappointing fashion and were honestly lucky to cling on to fifth position. They lost their last three games of the regular season, going down two goals to nil in each of them. But perhaps the most disappointing of the lot was last weekend against their opposition this week. Quite simply they didn’t turn up, letting the Flame control the transition moments. If they do want to look for inspiration though, they only have look to the two games beforehand. Yes, they lost those, but they went down fighting and perhaps unlucky not to take points away from either Nepean FC or Central Coast United.

So, who do we look out for in this Hurstville outfit? Well on his day, the simple answer is Paul Gagro. The Hurstville captain can simply change games, and generally anything that’s good for the Hurstville side comes through him. Yeah but Justin, football is a team game? You’re correct and this week’s visitors will want performances from midfielder Pedro Almeida, Jesse Gagro up front and goalkeeper Matthew Massarotto. If they do get such performances, they might just stand a chance of causing the upset this week.

Previous meetings:

R11: South Coast Flame 2-1 Hurstville FC

R22: Hurstville FC 0-2 South Coast Flame

Last Words and Prediction:

South Coast Flame have the advantage coming into this one. A combination of home ground advantage and winning both previous meetings this season leads us to believe they’ll be hard to beat.

Qualifying Final: Fraser Park v Western Condors; Sunday 25th August, 5pm @ Fraser Park

This season marked a much-needed step in the right direction for Fraser Park FC. After a well-documented fall from grace in previous years, they finished in a highly respectable second position (only three points behind premiers Central Coast United). In reflection though, it’s only natural when you get so close to the prize to look back and wonder what could’ve been in certain results. However, that’s in the past now and two wins over Central Coast United this season alone should be enough to prove to themselves that they can go on and win the grand final. Step one of that task is this weekend and it does come against a challenging opposition.

So, who’s going to sway the game in the favour of Fraser Park FC. Well the easy place to look is the front three which is quite possibly the strongest in the league. Luiz Lobo, Matthew Nezval and Shu Torihara have combined this season to score an eye-watering 36 goals between them. They will be fed by captain and experienced head Christian Soares in midfield, along with Eric Tomesek and Dominic Siu out wide. But a little talked about area of the pitch is their defense who have conceded just 29 goals across their regular season fixtures. With particularly the performances of keeper Ian Johnson impressing and proving a few doubters wrong in the process. Too sum up, their a very good side and an even better one at home.

If somebody told you that the Western Condors would finish in third position back in March. You would’ve dismissed it in an instant and asked to move on but now, here we are. The Condors have the opportunity to move through to a grand final qualifier with a win over Fraser Park and will have every confidence in their ability to do so having overcome them last week. It’s just one win of a winning streak which has now stretched to five matches including impressive victories over Central Coast United and Nepean FC. Now as the finals await, will the winning streak continue or come to a halt at the hands of a strong opposition.

The Western Condors have several avenues to goal with no less than fourteen goal scorers throughout the season. Likely to take the headlines though are the Japanese trio of top goal scorer Chum Him Yau, Jay Takahashi and Kaito Ikarmoto. However, it wouldn’t be wise to underestimate their number ten Cristian Leiva Martinez and super sub in recent weeks Gustavo Maya Valiente who are more than capable of causing Fraser Park trouble. At the other end, the performances of captain Gabriel Gomes at centre back and Jake Jose Mendes will be crucial to deciding the outcome. There’s no doubting their character either with late goals becoming a pattern for the high-flying Condors.

Previous Meetings:

R11: Fraser Park 5-4 Western Condors

R22: Western Condors 3-2 Fraser Park

Last Words and Predictions:

These two couldn’t be separated in their previous meetings, winning one game apiece. A few returning faces for Fraser Park give them a slight advantage. Though don’t be surprised if this goes to extra time.

By Justin Smith (@smiththejustin)