With six weeks to go, the stakes in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition are about to be raised with each fixture having meaning to it between now and the end of the season.
In round 17, our match of the round takes us back to Ernie Smith to catch SD Raiders host Northern Tigers. While another top four clash headlines elsewhere.
Match of the Round: SD Raiders FC v Northern Tigers FC; Saturday 26 June, 6:30pm @ Ernie Smith Reserve POSTPONED
Undefeated in our match of the round. SD Raiders roll out the welcome mat to welcome our cameras and Northern Tigers to Ernie Smith Reserve.
This time though, our match of the round comes at a good time for our hosts who snapped at winless streak stretching back to round ten (the last time we met them). And it was a surprise result at that beating Hakoah FC away from home. Demonstrating that they can keep things tight at the defensive end, they held one of the league’s best home teams to just the one goal. While they found the net from a set piece, Anthony Prioa scoring into injury time, a goal which was very much welcome in the SD camp. With a good record when our cameras turn up, they will be hoping to throw a spanner in the works of their opponents top four hopes.
Sitting in third position, this stands as one of the tougher tests Northern Tigers will face in the remaining six rounds. So far though, they have down well to drag themselves back in to the finals/promotion picture. Last weekend they overcame a St George FC side who were desperate to keep their finals hopes alive. Nevertheless, they did what they had too in tricky conditions. Alexander Brown and Nick Drummond finding the net in a performance which saw them have the best chances to score. The next few weeks will prove pivotal in the race to the finish. If they claim victory in this one, it’s a big step towards where they want to be.
In their past two meetings, Northern Tigers have put ten goals past Nick Carle’s men. Will they do it again or will SD Raiders continue to be a thorn in the promotion chasing sides.
Be sure to join our resident NPL2 Men’s commentator Eric Subijano for the call Saturday evening, exclusively on NPL.TV.
St George City v Hakoah FC; Saturday 26 June, 6pm @ Peakhurst Park POSTPONED
Another week, another top six clash to whet the appetite. This weekend it’s St George City who play host to Hakoah FC.
Five weeks, Five games against other teams in the top six! In a bit of a fixture quirk, our league leaders St George City face the toughest run home possible over the next five weeks. But if we’ve learnt anything from the sixteen weeks preceding this, it’s that you never count City out. Last weekend, they put in a strong second half performance to overcome Mounties Wanderers away from home where Juan Carlos Romero, Jason Romero and Joshua Keremelevski all found the net. Now with that daunting fixture list upon them, they will be looking to make a statement in this one.
We told you to buckle up! In a competition full of surprise results, one last weekend stood out. And Hakoah FC were the on the end of it. Coming into the fixture against SD Raiders, the hosts were unbeaten on their own turf but all that changed in a game decided by the thinnest of margins. That margin, the set piece where all three goals came from on a wet and wild afternoon at Hensley Athletic field. Zachary Sapsford found the net to equalize the scores in the first half, but they were to be cruelly beaten into injury time. Will we see a response here?
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC; Saturday 26 June, 6pm @ Bonnyrigg Sports Club POSTPONED
Bonnyrigg White Eagles host Western Sydney Wanderers in another dinnertime clash, Saturday evening.
Win, loss, loss, win, ?. It’s hard to get a read on Bonnyrigg White Eagles this season. Having lost their previous two going into last weekend, the Eagles rose above their wounded opponents in Blacktown Spartans. But once again it was done the hard way, leaving it till late to wrap up the three points. But ultimately, goals to their two strike weapons in Aaron Peterson and Radovan Pavicevic were enough for the hosts to claim victory. Too do the same here, they’ll have to overcome a poor record against the top six having claimed just five points from eight fixtures.
They face a Western Sydney Wanderers who know how to win despite not being at their best. And what a luxury that is for an A league academy who have struggled to do just that in previous iterations. Last weekend they prevailed in our match of the round over Hills United at Wanderers Football Park. Bilal Chahine and Ali Auglah scored the goals while Phillip Cancar and Dean Pelekanos both impressed in the defense/midfield, respectively. With a match against St George City on the horizon, Patrick Zwaanswijk with want his team to show their teeth in this one against a team they’ve already beaten this season.
Blacktown Spartans FC v NWS Spirit FC; Saturday 26 June; 7pm @ Blacktown Football Park POSTPONED
Almost a must win, it’s time for NWS Spirit FC to find some form as they travel to Blacktown Football Park to face Blacktown Spartans.
But first let’s touch on the Spartans. In a sign of the competition tightening in terms of quality on the pitch, the Spartans have shown they can hang in there with the best of them over the past month or two. Last weekend however, they came off second best against Bonnyrigg White Eagles. With all three goals coming in the last ten minutes. Andre Carle found the net to equalize, however a late lapse of concentration in their own box ultimately saw them come away with nothing. They did however claim victory over the Spirit in their first meeting of the season.
Speaking of the form table does not look pretty for David Perkovic and his NWS Spirit side. Having had a strong first half of the season, the Spirit have only managed to pick up five points from their first five fixtures in the second half of the season. Last weekend they tasted defeat against the Central Coast Mariners. Luke Okuda and Musashi Kokubo both picked up first half goals to give them the lead, but they couldn’t respond to three unanswered goals from that point on. Looking ahead, they have four winnable fixtures in their run home including this one but there isn’t much room for a hiccup.
St George FC v Mounties Wanderers FC; Saturday 26 June; 7pm @ Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre POSTPONED
St George FC will be looking to bounce back to winning ways when they return home to face Mounties Wanderers this weekend.
The past couple of fixtures have been a bit of a reality check for St George FC. Granted St George City and Northern Tigers are some of the tougher opponents you could face in this competition, but still they’ll be disappointed to come away with nothing. Last time out, they held plenty of possession at North Turramurra but couldn’t turn that into goals in the attacking third, unfortunately a familiar story this campaign. Sitting two games outside the top five, their finals tilt isn’t quite over, but coming away with a victory is a must.
Their opponents, Mounties Wanderers also will have hopes of coming away victorious in this one. Last weekend, they matched it with the other St George side in their Sunday afternoon encounter. Most impressive in that performance was their resilience after conceding at the other end. Mark Moric was rewarded with a goal, while they had two or three chances to level the scores up once again in the second half. They will be looking to avenge a 3-1 defeat back in round six.
Central Coast Mariners FC v Hills United FC; Sunday 27 June; 3pm @ Pluim Park POSTPONED
Central Coast Mariners complete their five game home stand in their meeting with Hills United this Sunday.
And so far, it’s been a fruitful one for the Mariners who have prevailed in their previous four matches, including impressive wins over NWS Spirit FC and SD Raiders in their past two fixtures. Last weekend it was NWS Spirit in testing conditions at Pluim Park. Lewis Miller, Harry McCarthy, Jing Reec and Jordan Smylie all finding the net in a six goal thriller while Louis Khoury continues to be a threat with his assists. Now into the top four, the tables have flipped, and Nick Montgomery will want his side to lay down a marker in this one.
They face a Hills United side who gave fellow academy side Western Sydney Wanderers a scare last weekend. Coming in off a confidence building victory over Bonnyrigg the week prior. United showed glimpses of the side that won the grand final nearly two years ago. Duncan Stewart found the net to equalize late in the first half, but a slow start to the second condemned them to defeat. They will be without Eoin Montford for this one who was shown a red with fifteen minutes remaining. Another side who has shown improvement in recent times, can they pull off an upset here?
By NPL2 Men’s reporter Justin Smith (Twitter: @smiththejustin)