Finals Series Round 3 Preview – Men’s State League


There have been some great David v Goliath battles throughout the ages and in the second last game of the State League Men’s Finals, we await another one as South Coast Flame (David) travel to face Fraser Park (Goliath).

I’m no body language expert but something didn’t seem right before Fraser Park played Central Coast United last weekend. And those fears were confirmed on the pitch where they went down in the fixture with barely a whimper in resistance. That result follows up, just scraping past Western Condors in a feisty contest in week one of the finals. Now granted, their opponents this weekend don’t have the firepower of Central Coast United or Western Condors, but you have to wonder, are Fraser Park really set on winning the championship come next weekend or are they there for the taking on Saturday night?

So, who can they turn too, to get their season back on track? Well without their experienced leader Christian Soares on the park for just the second time this season. Pressure will be turned up on his midfield counterpart Cam Philpot. Philpot has added another dimension to the Marrickville based outfit. Popping up with four goals in his nine appearances. He will need support though and it’s very rare we don’t see Luiz Lobo, Matthew Nezval and Shu Torihara go two weeks without scoring a goal between them. Pressure is on, and the longer it takes them to find their rhythm this weekend, the more their opponents will grow into it.

Yes, there is a certain feel good factor about Fraser Park thus season as they have turned recent fortunes around. But that fails in comparison to South Coast Flame this finals campaign. The team from the Illawarra are doing their region proud with a certain fighting spirit in their last couple of performances. Having overcome Hurstville FC in round one of the finals series. They simply wore the Western Condors down to the ground before clipping their wings with not one but two goals in extra time last weekend. It’s a dramatic change of fortunes for a team who only managed three wins during the second half of the season. Now battle hardened, they perhaps hold an advantage over their opponents having played effectively three knockout games in a row before this one.

Well this part of the preview writes itself. The Flame have caught fire at the right time. Central to that has been the performances of midfielder Yuki Mandai. Last week, the Condors joined with Hurstville as two sides unable to contain him this finals series, as he won a penalty and picked up a late assist. His just one of many youngsters in this team proving, you can win games with kids. In team news, it will be a race against time for Japanese counterpart Hiroaki Ushijima and Justin Smith (great name) to return.

Previous Meetings:

R10: Fraser Park 4-0 South Coast Flame

R21: South Coast Flame 1-3 Fraser Park

Last Words and Prediction:

Given their previous meetings, this game has no right to be close. But it’s final times, so you can’t rule out the expected. In saying that you have to back Fraser Park to get another shot at Central Coast United next week.

-By Justin Smith