Alright team. Time for the competition check list! Excitement? Present! Goals? You betcha! Drama? Definitely! Nerves? Yep. Right, seems like we are ready then! Welcome back to the National Premier Leagues 2 Men’s competition for 2021.
In this weeks serving, our cameras will be at Hills United v SD Raiders in the hope of a similar outcome to their last fixture.
Elsewhere, Western Sydney Wanderers travel up the coast to take on Central Coast Mariners.
Whilst four over fixtures will sure capture the intrigue of everyone across the league.
Saturday 6th March 2021
Match of the Round: Hills United v SD Raiders; 7pm @ Lily Holmes Stadium
Consider it a tribute to the last NPL2 writer that our first streamed match of the season will see two teams with a rich futsal history face off at Lily Holmes Stadium.
Our hosts, Hills United will want to bounce back after a disappointing 2020 campaign which saw them finish second from bottom. Now under the leadership of John Gibson, Hills will be wanting to return to the heights of seasons prior. Helping them on their way will be the new acquisitions of Duncan Stewart, Shaun Caitlin and Rainer Smahel, who join the nucleus of last year’s squad.
They face a SD Raiders side looking to build off a steady yet unremarkable beginning to NPL2 life. However, to do so they will need to turn around a four-match losing streak which curtailed their 2020 campaign. Once again Nick Carle takes charge, with new signings Josh Da Silva, James Markovic and Thomas Wardel the players to watch this campaign.
In their last meeting which coincidently opened last season, they played out a five-goal thriller which saw Hills United prevail.
Be sure to join my predecessor Eric Subijano for the NPL.TV stream this Saturday night or on demand.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles v St George FA; 6pm @ Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Bonnyrigg White Eagles welcome St George FA for a round one matchup with plenty of intrigue.
A whole new world. For the first time in a long time, Bonnyrigg come into a season without Nikola Zonjic who played 300 games for the club. The White Eagles will be looking to build on an impressive home record and solid defense which highlighted their shortened 2020 campaign. In the last meeting between these two sides, Bonnyrigg came out on top with a 2-0 victory last August courtesy of goals to Jack Armson and Ray Miller.
With a full pre-season now under their belt. St George FA come into the season with the squad fresh and ready to go in 2020. Boosted by the trio of signings from their local rivals, City will be looking to beat Bonnyrigg for the first time on the road having only previously beaten them at home back in 2019.
Last Meeting: Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2-0 St George FA. 2020
Central Coast Mariners v Western Sydney Wanderers; 6pm @ Pluim Park No.1
Predicting one result in football is dangerous, let alone a season. But when it comes to predicting a top four, the consensus is, these two teams will have a big say in the conversation. So how fitting that they meet in our opening round.
Our reigning champions Central Coast Mariners come into the season on the back of a competitive pre-season filled with clashes against NPL1 opposition. But as the real season kicks off, the Mariners will have to go about their work this season with big expectations after last year’s success.
Their first challenge is one of the other A-league academy in the competition. Western Sydney Wanderers will be looking to re-establish themselves after a season away in NPL1. They too will have the weight of expectation on their shoulders, let’s see how they deal with it.
The Wanderers have struggled to beat the Mariners in NPL2 in recent times, their last victory coming back in 2017. Will that prove to be the case again or are they due for a victory?
Last Meeting: Western Sydney Wanderers 1-1 Central Coast Mariners. 8/6/19
Blacktown Spartans v Mounties Wanderers; 7pm @ Blacktown Football Park No.1
Pre-season is one thing, competitive games is another. And it has been a long time since we’ve seen Mounties Wanderers on a football pitch. Their round one fixture pits them against Blacktown Spartans on Saturday night.
If the standings at the end of the season are anything to go by. Blacktown Spartans are making steady progress under the tenure of Brett Hewit. Hewit has quietly assembled a squad and coaching staff which is determined to challenge for the top four.
Standing in their way are the Mounties Wanderers. Led by Jerry Bilokapic, the Mounties have recruited a whole new set of players who will be keen to prove their worth in first grade football. Can they gel and spring an upset in this one? Or will the Spartans start their season on the right foot?
Last Meeting: Blacktown Spartans 1-0 Mounties Wanderers. 2020
NWS Spirit FC v St George FC; 7pm @ Christie Park No.1
Round one will also see a rematch of last season’s final round when NWS Spirit FC host St George FC at Christie Park, Saturday night.
There is no sugar coating it, expectations are high for NWS Spirit this season. A second-place finish in last year’s Covid hit campaign continued the club’s upward trajectory in recent times. Now with the majority of last year’s squad returning and some shrewd additions, they look set to kick off the campaign in positive fashion.
In their way, are a club who have found themselves back in the mid-table grind in recently. And having largely underperformed, St George FC have undergone significant change in the off season in the hopes of a final’s series return. With Ben Rollison at the helm (sorry mate), he will be hoping his new signings blend in well together in this round one clash.
Last time these two met, it was the Spirit who took the biscuits courtesy of a Louis Bozanic double.
Northern Tigers FC v Hakoah Sydney City East FC; 7pm @ North Turramurra Recreation Area
Finally, we catch up with last year’s runner up as they welcome Hakoah Sydney City East to North Turramurra this Saturday night.
Last time these two sides met; it was in the middle of an impressive run to the finals which saw Northern Tigers nearly pull off a grand final win. The nucleus of that side will once again line up this weekend. With the key omission being that of Ollie Wiggin who will spend the season on the sidelines with an ACL injury.
Hakoah Sydney City East on the other hand, will be eyeing revenge from their forementioned defeat. Having reflected and regrouped from last year’s showing, they will once again be looking to the likes of Bruno Mendes to steer the ship. With a handy support cast behind him including new recruits Yianni Spyrakis and James Baldachino.
Be sure to catch the NPL2 match of the round every week exclusive to NPL.TV!
By NPL2 Men’s reporter Justin Smith (Twitter: @smiththejustin)