We’ve got bonus football this week!
In addition to the usual weekend slate of five fascinating matches, there’s also tonight’s Round 4 catchup game between Hills and Newcastle.
What will happen in the latest edition of the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition?
Hills United v Newcastle Jets, 6:45pm Wednesday 9 September, Valentine Sports Park No. 2
Ruben Zadkovich makes his debut as Hills United coach against one of his former clubs.
This venue has good omens for Hills. They of course triumphed there in the 2019 Grand Final, and in fact have won each of their last four games on the No. 2 field at Valentine Sports Park, scoring 18 goals in the process. As always with this side, look to the Giovenali brothers (Greg and Wade) to influence play in the centre of the park and drive the team forward.
Now if it’s brothers you’re looking for, then the Jets have you covered. Kosta & Maki Petratos were constantly threatening in attack on Saturday, while Joseph & Patrick Langlois caught the eye in defence and midfield respectively. Newcastle were unlucky to leave Christie Park with nothing, and while the finals are probably out of reach now, a mid-table finish is achievable and would be a more than respectable outcome.
Blacktown Spartans v NWS Spirit FC, 7:00pm Saturday 12 September, Blacktown Football Park
The Spartans will aim to keep their finals hopes alive, but Spirit FC have Premiership ambitions and won’t concede anything without a battle.
It might be time for the home side to hark back to the last time Spirit FC visited Rooty Hill. The Spartans won 4-2 on that evening in July 2019, with both Finley Hayhurst and former Spirit player Mason Ireland getting on the scoresheet. Hayhurst has shown his versatility by operating in both defensive and midfield roles, and we can also expect Nathan Separovic to whip in his fair share of dangerous crosses.
There have been 24 goals combined in Spirit FC’s last three away trips, so it should be a good night for whoever commentates this game. If you believe in players performing well against their old clubs, keep an eye on Michael Konestabo – he scored 14 goals for Spartans in 2017. The past week has seen plenty of good news for the club: David Perkovic has signed for another three years and Dominic Johns is back after an ACL injury.
Hills United v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 7:00pm Saturday 12 September, Lily Homes Stadium
It feels like yesterday that these two sides were facing off in Seven Hills for the right to go to the 2019 Grand Final.
Hills beat Bonnyrigg twice at this venue last year, with Daniel Fogarty scoring three times across those two games. Wade Giovenali also has a good scoring record at Lily Homes Stadium, having scored in each of United’s three previous games there. As Hills try to find some form, this could be an opportunity for young talent like Stephan De Robillard and Harry Drew to make their mark.
Bonnyrigg have a game in hand on the top two, so the Premiership is still a possibility. Wayne O’Sullivan must be delighted with the play from his fullbacks, with Robert Eremugo earning his first senior contract and Hiyori Kawaguchi slotting in seamlessly this season. Aidan Taouil was also impressive in wide areas on Saturday, setting up a goal and going close to scoring one of his own.
Central Coast Mariners v St George FC, 3:00pm Sunday 13 September, Pluim Park No. 1
A side with a 100% home win record hosts a team that is undefeated on their travels.
Second placed Northern Tigers have the bye this weekend, giving Central Coast a real chance to put pressure on at least one of their Premiership rivals. Damian Tsekenis may be pushing for a starting spot in this game after his match winning performance off the bench against SD Raiders. While Harry McCarthy didn’t score, he played his part in some excellent buildup play, and the same can be said of Michael Katsoulis.
It’s pretty much do-or-die for St George FC now. There have been draws in each of the last three meetings between these two sides – another stalemate would probably mean the end of the Saints’ finals hopes. Controlling the centre of the park will be as vital as ever, especially against the league leaders, and this is where the likes of Patrick O’Shea and Bruno Pivato can make a huge impact.
Hakoah Sydney City East v Newcastle Jets, 3:00pm Sunday 13 September, Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah will be seeking home comforts against a Jets side backing up from midweek action.
All of Hakoah’s points have been earned in Eastgardens – this game and the Round 10 home fixture against Spartans give them the opportunity for a strong finish to the campaign. The importance of Bruno Mendes’s return cannot be emphasised enough, given how much venom he adds to their attack. However, the Brazilian can’t do it all on his own, so creativity from Matthew Nezval and Jordan Koton will also be required.
Newcastle have been in decent form despite last week’s loss, a game in which they pushed Spirit FC all the way to the final whistle. Forward Blake Archbold could be the one to break down the Hakoah backline, while in midfield Bailey Wells can contribute both defensively and in an attacking sense. Daniel McBreen may however need to rotate the Newcastle squad, as this is their third away trip in eight days.
St George City FA v SD Raiders, 3:00pm Sunday 13 September, Peakhurst Park – Synthetic
These clubs are both new, but there’s already quite a rich history developing: they have already met eight times in competitive fixtures.
You couldn’t blame St George City for looking back to 2018. That year, they scored eight and conceded none against SD Raiders in three games, one of which was their 2-0 victory in the 2018 NPL 3 Grand Final. Stepover king Steve Kuzmanovski played for City that day and will always be a threat going forward, while the defensive pair of James Markovic and Dominic Brischetto will be doing their best to help City keep another clean sheet against the Raiders.
For SD Raiders, their last two games are against teams below them in the table, so it’s a great chance to consolidate their position and earn a mid-table finish. They have shown a lot of potential, and only a late Mariners surge prevented them from getting points last weekend. Goalkeeper Michael Rutherford has made some great saves this year, while Daniel Bittar scored with a thumping header against Central Coast and always provides trickery out wide.
Bye: Northern Tigers
By Eric Subijano (@eric_subijano)