“The Great Unknown”, for some it refers to a Rob Thomas album, others a reference to Dungeons and Dragons. For us though, it very much sums up the feeling going into Round One of the NPL 4 NSW Men’s competition.
This week the competition opens out in Lithgow as Parramatta FC become the first team to journey over the mountains in 2020. Whilst all eyes will be watching Newcastle Jets in their inaugural Football NSW match (at least on the men’s side). We however will be journeying out to Hawkesbury City to see them take on Nepean FC.
Western NSW FC v Parramatta FC, Saturday 7th March, 4pm @ Marjorie Jackson Field
Fact: Both these sides came down from the NPL3 NSW men’s competition in 2019. However, that’s about where the similarities end between Western NSW FC and Parramatta FC.
Firstly, we have Western NSW FC. A modest club from regional NSW aiming to build a foundation this campaign which can be built on in the future. As such, you will see plenty of new faces in Mark Rooke’s 2020 squad as they underwent significant turnover in the off season.
Then we have, the big city lights coming to town. Yep, Parramatta FC are aiming high and don’t want to be caught in this division too long. Captain Chris Godoy will be charged with leading the Eagles into battle for round one of the competition, the first of many steps to where the club feel they belong.
Parramatta FC won both games last season against Western NSW in high scoring affairs last year. Hard to see that changing in this one.
Prediction: Parramatta FC
Granville Rage v Camden Tigers FC, Saturday 7th March, 5pm @ Marconi Stadium no.1
A new season see’s a new home for Granville Rage as they welcome Camden Tigers to Marconi Stadium to open their season.
The Rage will be without their usual home out at Garside Park in 2020, as it’s undergoing a transition to artificial. So, Marconi it is, and they will be keen to propel themselves to a win in their first fixture of the season.
Camden Tigers themselves have undergone a transition in the off-season. They were quick to make changes toward the end of last year, so you’d imagine they will be a bit better settled in compared to other squads.
In their two meetings last season, there was only one goal between them in their two fixtures. Expect a close one this Saturday evening.
Prediction: Camden Tigers
Match of the Round: Hawkesbury City FC v Nepean FC, Saturday 7th March, 7pm @ David Bertenshaw Field
Can we call this a derby? Hawkesbury City FC host Nepean FC in there first league meeting in five years.
The home side will be hoping to a quick readjustment to life in the fourth tier. New acquisitions Greg Kondek and Emanuel Ponce are set to make their club debuts. Whilst a familiar face in James Maywin returns from a lengthy suspension.
Nepean FC on the other hand would consider themselves all too familiar to these surroundings. Under the previous regime, the team from Sydney’s far west struggled to get going early on. So, they will be hoping for different as Joe D’Ermilio takes charge in his first game.
It’s a tough one to call, hence why it’s our first match of the round of the season. Stay tuned for a full match report in this week’s review.
Prediction: Hawkesbury City
Fraser Park FC v Hurstville FC, Saturday 7th March, 7pm @ Fraser Park
Champions Fraser Park FC welcome fellow 2019 State League Men’s finalists Hurstville FC in another promising affair on Saturday night.
Amongst all the changes at Fraser Park, the club still have ambitions to at least challenge for promotion. As such, the club will look to the existing faces (including Dominic Siu) to lead the way amongst the group. If the team click early, the sky is the limit.
In contrast, Hurstville FC come into this one as a settled unit. Acknowledging that this season will be one of their hardest yet, the squad will be hoping to literally hit the ground running. Captain and club technical director Paul Gagro will again prove to be key to any success they will have.
New side, same fate? Last year Hurstville FC proved to be Fraser Park’s bogey side across their two meetings. Or will the new faces hit the ground running in Marrickville.
Prediction: Fraser Park
UNSW FC v South Coast Flame FC, Sunday 8th March, 3pm @ Heffron Park Synthetic
Not to be outdone, Sunday’s action also promises to be must see. Opening those proceedings is UNSW FC and South Coast Flame FC.
Pre-season has been encouraging for UNSW FC. Last Saturday not included, they only dropped one fixture, yet it was the one that hurt most against friendly rivals Sydney University in the Kennard Cup. However even in that clash, there was a lot of quality on show from UNSW. Expect them to be a lot higher than last year’s disappointing finish.
Few teams caught the eye like South Coast Flame FC and their finals charge last time out. Now the challenge is taking that momentum forward in the new decade. Tasked with that job is head coach George Kulcsar and captain Matthew White. It’s been quite the journey following the Flame so far, now 2020 promises so much.
Newcastle Jets FC v Prospect United SC, Sunday 8th March, 7pm
Rounding out our first-round action is Newcastle Jets FC as they welcome Prospect United to Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.
Yes, I joked about the youth league in the preview but nonetheless, Newcastle Jets come into the competition with the most competitive football under their belt. In that season they managed to find the net at will so expect them to be entertaining to say the least (well worth the effort 7pm on a Sunday night).
Prospect United on the other hand come into this one with no pressure on them whatsoever. Although they do have a history of beating heavy favourites (just ask Central Coast United). So, you’d suggest their task will be keeping things respectable whilst gelling as a unit with more winnable fixtures on the horizon.
Prediciton: Newcastle Jets.
By Justin Smith (twitter: @smiththejustin)