Semi Finals football greets us this weekend in the National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition, with two mammoth clashes set to decide who will compete in the Grand Final.
Stanmore Hawks and SD Raiders return to action this weekend as they prepare to go head to head with last week’s winners in Gladesville Ryde Magic and Bankstown City.
So, let’s check out the two mouth-watering fixtures that will be coming our way this weekend.
STANMORE HAWKS FC – GLADESVILLE RYDE MAGIC
Saturday, September 14 @ 5pm
Premiers Stanmore Hawks welcome Gladesville Ryde Magic to Arlington Oval on Saturday, with proceedings set to get underway from 5pm.
Stanmore will be out for revenge come Saturday as they prepare to go head to head with one of the two sides who managed to beat them in the regular season.
The men from Gladesville dished out the Hawks’ second defeat of the campaign when they won 1-0 at Christie Park back in round 22. Magic can also boast to be the only side to hold the Premiers to nil, with that fixture being the sole occasion that the Premiers failed to find the back of the net in the 2019 season.
Captain and striker Jovan Blagojevic is the dangerman for Stanmore, the lethal striker notched 26 goals in the regular season.
A big loss for the Hawks comes in their midfield ranks following the departure of Spanish dynamo Alberto Perea Henche.
Conor Quilligan and Blake Serafin will be doing their best to fill the void in the middle of park, Conor and Alberto formed one of the strongest midfield partnerships in this year’s competition so all eyes will be on him to see how he links up with Serafin.
Gladesville arrive into this clash after a gruelling encounter against Bankstown United. They were staring down the barrel of defeat before they found the all-important goal to take the match to extra time in what was virtually the last kick of the game.
They went onto break Bankstown hearts when they smashed home the winner in extra time to confirm their place in this weekend’s tie.
The deadly duo of Eddie Yoong and Charbel Haddad will be the ones to watch this Saturday after they came off the bench to play an influential role for Magic last time out, Yoong got the assist for his side’s second goal whilst also teeing up Haddad for the match defining goal.
The 120 minutes of football could benefit the visitors given that they are already in the mindset to play in the finals, compared to their hosts who had the week off. On the other hand, that fixture could be detrimental to their chances of progressing, they could be slow and sluggish after failing to recover properly from last week’s high stakes contest.
Given the closeness of the two sides in their encounters over the course of the campaign, it will most likely be just the one goal that proves the difference.
2019 Previous Encounters;
RD 9 on May 4th @ Arlington Oval
Stanmore Hawks FC 2 (Quilligan x2)
Gladesville Ryde Magic 0
RD 22 on August 4th @ Christie Park
Gladesville Ryde Magic 1 (Tarazona)
Stanmore Hawks FC 0
SD RAIDERS FC – BANKSTOWN CITY FC
Valentine Sports Park No.2
Sunday, September 15 @ 6pm
Two rivals will once again lock horns on Sunday night as SD Raiders do battle with Bankstown City at Valentine Sports Park at 6pm.
These two teams have been at each other’s necks the entire campaign, Raiders spent most of the season playing second fiddle to Bankstown in 3rd place before the Lions slipped up and presented Raiders with the opportunity to steal 2nd spot on the final matchday.
The 2nd placed finish gave Raiders the week off to regroup whilst Bankstown were pushed to their limits last time out against Inter.
The deadly trio of Nikola Todoroski, Ante Tomic and Marko Filipovic has been instrumental to the Lions’ campaign, together they bagged 59 out of their 82 goals in the regular season.
Attacking midfielder Lawrence Hanna continues to dazzle his opponents’ with his skilful play in the final third, whilst shot stopper Carl Mcmahon has been his side’s saviour with countless crucial saves throughout the campaign.
Last week saw the Raiders sit back and relax for the first time in a very long time as they made the most of the benefits that come with a top two finish.
They enter the finals series on the back of three victories, with their latest win a convincing 3-1 win away to Magic on the final matchday.
Anthony Proia will lead the charge up front; the Raiders’ frontman had the golden boot taken from under his nose after Todoroski sneaked in to overtake him on the leader board in the final round.
Captain and centre half Goran Ljuboja will marshal the defence, the veteran defender will have to be at his best come Sunday as he and his side look to quash the league’s most lethal attacking outfit.
A staggering 14 goals have been scored over the last two meetings between these teams, so it would be remiss not to a predict another high scoring fixture this weekend.
2019 Previous Encounters;
RD 6 on April 13th @ Ernie Smith Reserve
SD Raiders FC 1 (Proia)
Bankstown City FC 5 (Todoroski x3, Tomic, Silva Neto)
RD 19 on July 17th @ Valentine Sports Park No.2
Bankstown City FC 4 (Todoroski x3, Markovski)
SD Raiders FC 2 (Smith x2)