Ask any coach across any sport, getting points early can prove vital to your fate come the finish.
So as round two of the National Premier Leagues 4 NSW competition approaches.
Will your team make it two from two? Or come back from a disappointing first round defeat? This weekend once again promises so much, let’s look at the action.
South Coast Flame FC v Parramatta FC; Saturday 14th March, 6:15pm @ Ian Mclennan Park
Opening the round, Parramatta FC travel down the M1 to take on the South Coast Flame.
Not the start they had imagined. Things didn’t go to plan for the South Coast Flame in round one. Having lost star recruit Sandy Lowcock, the week before in a trial, the Flame failed fire in their match with UNSW FC.
Now, they face another tough test, but this time at home. It wasn’t all bad news for them though, young forward Jonathan Mushaba showed no sign of early season rust, scoring his second goal in three first team appearances.
In contrast, Parramatta FC had a great start to their 2020 campaign. Yes, a sensational six goals against Western NSW FC proved they are ready to mount a challenge at the top this campaign.
Taking the headlines in that one was a double from Ali Dulleh whose transitioned from their 20’s side well. If that wasn’t good enough news, Clement Waoci looked in sharp touch in his return to the pitch after missing most of the preseason.
Prediction: Parramatta FC
Nepean FC v Fraser Park FC; Saturday 14th March, 7pm @ Cook Park No.1 (St Marys)
We’ve done two new teams to the competition, now let’s return to a contest between two familiar foes for our second match of the round this season.
Nepean FC will come into this one fresh having had their first-round fixture washed out. So, attention will turn, as the club look to improve on their home record in 2019. In which they only managed to win half of their home games, nowhere near good enough for a club of their size.
Now with only three familiar names remaining in the squad from last season, they will want to put down a marker on their home turf.
It won’t be easy though, as in stroll Fraser Park. These two sides played out some of the better games of the 2019 State League Men’s (Reminisces mournfully) season with Fraser Park winning both 3-2. In their last meeting, Shu Torihara and Cam Philpot were goal scorers. Can they repeat the effort, or will Anthony Musumeci continue his goalscoring form (hear his pretty handy at Futsal)?
Fraser Park are hurting after last weekend and will want to show the competition what they’re made of in 2020. All signs point to a special match at Cook Park, so why not join us there?
Prediction: Nepean FC
Hurstville FC v Newcastle Jets FC; Saturday 14th March, 7pm @ Ilinden Sports Centre
Newcastle Jets FC take their first away trip in NPL4 life, travelling down to Southern Sydney to face Hurstville FC on Saturday night.
Well it wasn’t a win, but at least it wasn’t another loss for Hurstville FC. Coming into their fixture against Fraser Park, Hurstville FC were on a four-game competitive losing streak (towards the back end of last season) and they looked destined to that fate again.
That was until ex St George City player Caleb Bartier stepped up to finish a move started by the Gagro brothers. They’ll take much needed confidence into this one.
A win is a win. Newcastle Jet’s had a nervy start to life in the division, coming out on top of a tight affair against Prospect United. Highlighting their round one clash was a crucial penalty stop from young goalkeeper Brodie Volkiene.
Now they know what to expect, the competition awaits to see what they will do next against another tough opponent.
Prediction: Newcastle Jets
UNSW FC v Hawkesbury City FC; Saturday 14th March, 7pm @ Lambert Park
If there’s one thing that frustrated UNSW FC in 2019, it was their inability to turn one win into two. Yet, they will attempt to do just that when they welcome Hawkesbury City FC for a round two clash.
New season, new home for UNSW FC. Yes, the travelling circus is making one more stop before a long-awaited return to campus. This season, Lambert Park will be called home and in their first fixture at the venue this year, they’ll want to carry on from last week’s result.
In that one they overcame a second half hiccup before scoring three of their own, Kevin Lopes involved in them all. If they can avoid further midfield injuries, they will be hard to beat this season.
Hawkesbury City FC on the other hand look set to get their season underway with a tough away trip to Sydney’s inner west. They will be tasked with breaking a four-game winless streak dating back to their 2019 NPL3 campaign.
But if we can promise anything, it’s that games involving them rarely end up scoreless, with the team not recording a scoreless draw since the 14th of July 2018.
Camden Tigers FC v Western NSW FC; Saturday 14th March, 7pm @ Ron Dine Stadium
Two losing sides look to bounce back in this round two clash in Sydney’s south west.
In our match of the round last weekend, we saw step one in the rebuild for Camden Tigers. Just by looking at their SportsTG page, you can see just how many goals from last season they lost.
However, signs were encouraging against Granville Rage, in that they created plenty of chances and could well have taken away at least a point.
Western NSW on the other hand, will be hoping to right their wrongs from last weekend. In their season opener vs Parramatta FC, they were ruthlessly punished for mistakes at the back conceding six goals to their opponents. They did play their part in the entertainment though as the returning duo of James Christie and Adam Scimone found the net.
In the corresponding fixture last season, Camden Tigers ran away with a 9-0 result. From that game, only six players remain between the two clubs. The question is who will get their first win of the campaign?
Prediction: Camden Tigers
Prospect United SC v Granville Rage; Sunday 15th March, 7pm @ William Lawson Park
And finally, to conclude the round, Prospect United SC return to Willian Lawson Park to host Granville Rage.
It’s not often in competitive competition that you can come away from a loss with your head held high. However, that was the case for Prospect United last weekend. Going into their round one fixture with Newcastle Jets, there was no pressure on them whatsoever and they nearly came away from it with at least a point in tow. So, confidence will be high as they return home to William Lawson Park for the first time of the season.
They come up against a rejuvenated Granville Rage who are ready to fight tooth and nail for a finals position in 2020. Last week in their season opener, they were good enough to overcome Camden Tigers in a tight affair.
And in a further encouraging sign, it was Daniel Bortolazzo who scored for the first time in over 12 months in the league. Can it be two from two for Granville Rage come Sunday night? Time will tell.
Prediction: Prospect United
By Justin Smith (@smiththejustin)