The curtain came down on the National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition proper last weekend; However, a few more weeks of football are on the horizon as we countdown to the Championship Series.
The final six have now been decided and now it is time to see how they react in the high-pressured environment that surrounds finals football.
Drama on the final matchday led to some changes in the final standings of the six competing sides as SD Raiders pounced on Bankstown City’s slip up to snatch 2nd place from the Lions to earn themselves a much-needed rest week.
Raiders as well as Premiers Stanmore Hawks have earned the week the off, as they prepare for the preliminary finals, whilst the other four sides are pitted against each other in this weekend’s elimination clashes.
Stanmore Hawks will meet the worst placed of the Elimination Final winners, whilst SD Raiders will face the best placed Elimination Final winner.
Let’s look at the four sides that will be taking to the field in this weekend’s Elimination Finals.
BANKSTOWN CITY FC – INTER LIONS FC
Saturday, September 7 @ 4pm
Bankstown City go head to head with Inter Lions in what promises to be a high-octane Elimination Final on Saturday afternoon at Jensen Park.
Bankstown were snatched of a 2nd spot finish on the final matchday after they fell to Dunbar whilst rivals SD Raiders beat Magic and leapfrogged City in the process.
A third placed finish has condemned Bankstown to the elimination final against Inter who winded up in 6th spot on the table, the men from Concord only secured their position in the finals series last weekend.
Both sides have enjoyed profitable seasons in front of goal, Bankstown were the league’s top scorers with 82 goals and boast golden boot winner Nikola Todoroski in their ranks. The veteran striker notched an impressive 29 goals over the course of the season, edging ahead of Raiders’ Anthony Proia who finished up with 27 to his name.
Despite their 6th placed standing, Inter finished as the competition’s fourth highest scorers with 62 goals. Their top goal scorer Nico Paras scored 10 goals – three of those arrived last Sunday away to the Mariners.
The mid-season arrival of Stevan Ilic also helped John Theo’s side in the goals department, the striker weighed in with seven goals from the nine matches he has been a part of.
The home ground advantage will give Bankstown the upper hand but Inter are a team that should not be taken lightly, especially given that they beat City the last time they met at Jensen Park.
2019 Previous Encounters;
RD 3 on March 23rd @ Valentine Sports Park No. 2
Inter Lions FC 1 (Becerra)
Bankstown City FC 1 (Hanna)
RD 16 on June 22nd @ Jensen Park
Bankstown City FC 1 (Filipovic)
Inter Lions FC 2 (Ilic, Rinaldi)
GLADESVILLE RYDE MAGIC – BANKSTOWN UNITED FC
Sunday, September 8 @ 4pm
Gladesville Ryde Magic welcome Bankstown United to their home ground in this do or die encounter on Sunday afternoon.
Magic can pride themselves on being one of the most consistent sides this season, they have not been outside the top four since the first round.
The experienced outfit have a reputation for being one of the hardest teams to breakdown in the league with veteran defenders like Lachlan Harte still bossing the defence.
Chris Gaitatzis and Chris Triantis have been the main providers in the goals department for their side, they have scored 19 out of their side’s 53 goals this term.
United finished in 5th position on the ladder with 41 points, four points less than Sunday’s opponents.
Like Magic, United’s strength has been their defence with captain Steven Wright commanding his troops from the back. They achieved a better defensive record over the course of the season than the two sides above them on the ladder, having conceded 40 goals compared to Bankstown City (47) and Magic (46).
Eros Bergamin and Jovan Miladinovic have formed an inseparable partnership in midfield whilst Lachlan Willmore and Mitch Cross have proved to be a driving force in the attacking third.
Cross finished 4th in the competition’s goalscoring chart with an impressive 20 goals from his 25 league appearances.
Both sides have been extremely well structured defensively throughout the season so chances will be at a premium come Sunday. Extra time and possibly penalties could be on the cards in this mouth-watering fixture.
2019 Previous Encounters;
RD 5 on April 6th @ Jensen Park
Bankstown United FC 0
Gladesville Ryde Magic 0
RD 18 on July 7th @ Christie Park
Gladesville Ryde Magic 2 (Voukidis, Triantis)
Bankstown United FC 4 (Bangura, Malesevic, Trotter, Willmore)
-By NPL 3 NSW Men’s Chief Writer Samuel Greco Schwartz (Twitter handle: @SamuelGS97)