The opening round gave the teams a chance to blow away the cobwebs, now it’s time for a second instalment of this highly competitive division. Get set for a Super Saturday which has six fascinating fixtures for us to choose from – some teams are trying to build winning streaks and other teams want to recover from Round 1 defeats, which will make for a night of non-stop action!
Our Pick: Northern Tigers FC v St George City FA, Saturday 19th March, 7pm, North Turramurra Recreation Area
This is a matchup that will excite any decent commentator.
Northern Tigers were in full roar on Saturday with an eight goal haul and six different scorers. Of course, you can’t go past hat trick hero Jack Fulton, but the former University of Massachusetts forward was far from alone: Ollie Scott set up three goals and grabbed one of his own, while Bailey Rule was another player who made his mark in both the goals and assists column. Hiyori Kawaguchi showed he is settling in well at North Turramurra and his overlapping down the left flank will be key to the Tigers’ chances of victory.
Meanwhile, St George City showed that the departure of the Romeros does not mean the departure of their status as a contender. Pluim Park is a tough place to play, especially when you fall behind, but City showed the character required for success by coming back to steal the win at the death. Expect prodigal son Reuben Awaritefe to be the focal point of the City attack, and at the other end of the field this will be an interesting experience for ex-Tiger Nicholas Kalogerou.
Why you should watch this: Northern Tigers are in white hot scoring form and St George City hit the back of the net four times on their last visit to North Turramurra, get ready to see goals!
Western Sydney Wanderers FC v Hills United FC, Saturday 19th March, 7pm, Wanderers Football Park
The Men Of The Hills face a short trip and a tough test against a Wanderers side who were impressive in Round 1.
Jordi Swibel’s switch to the Wanderers from Sydney FC has started beautifully with two well taken goals on his debut for the red & black. Head coach Tomi Vidovic will be equally pleased by a clean sheet, and the Mark Natta – Nectarios Triantis centre back duo did well to limit Spirit’s chances. Sometimes your bench can be just as important as your starters, so the Wanderers will be thrilled by Jesper Webber grabbing a goal and an assist in a brief substitute appearance.
Hills United’s opening game didn’t go to plan, but the 2019 Champions have a warrior mentality and are unlikely to run away from a challenge. Rainer Smahel has plenty of experience at this level and his defensive acumen will be key to United’s chances of keeping a clean sheet. Hills can’t just rely on defence to get through this game, so it’s just as well that Jordan Parfait and Adolph Koudakpo have the skills to properly test the young Wanderers backline.
Why you should watch this: the 1st Grade head-to-head record between these two clubs is evenly split (four wins for Hills and four for the Wanderers), so we look set for a close game.
SD Raiders FC v St George FC, Ernie Smith Reserve, Saturday 19th March, 7pm, Ernie Smith Reserve
The Saints will be marching to south west Sydney in search of their first win.
SD Raiders repeated their 2021 feat of starting the season with an away win over Hills United. Mark Cindric couldn’t have asked for more on his Raiders debut – two goals, one with his right foot and a stunning strike with his left foot that ultimately won the game. As Cindric looks to build on that brilliant first impression, he’ll have lots of support. Daniel Bittar is capable of terrorising opposing defenders, and Noah Chianese will grab his fair share of goals by the time the season’s over.
St George FC will count themselves unlucky not to have earned at least a point against Hakoah. While they were shutout at the Ilinden Sports Centre, Mark Milligan’s side have multiple ways to trouble the Raiders backline. Saints long-timer Anthony Morabito is one of those players you can always rely on and he was inches away from scoring on Saturday, while Cam Philpot looks like he can handle stepping up two divisions after playing for Fraser Park in League Three last year.
Why you should watch this: the teams are stacked with attacking quality, and the wide open spaces of Ernie Smith Reserve will give these ballers the room they need to play attractive football.
NWS Spirit FC v Blacktown Spartans, Saturday 19th March, 7:30pm, Christie Park No. 1
Two sides looking for their first victory meet in Macquarie Park.
Spirit’s loss in Round 1 could possibly be written off as “one of those nights” – it was the first time in two years that they’d lost by three or more goals. There were positives for David Perkovic’s side, such as the combination play between Michael Konestabo and Louis Bozanic, Goffry Lino is another attacking weapon who can hurt any defence in this division, while Kota Odakura’s passing will help Spirit unlock all of this goalscoring potential.
For the visitors, Mason Ireland will be keen to make an impression against his former club, and he’ll play an important role in that Spartans midfield. Suleyman Bangura’s suspension will be a blow, but the attacking prowess Hamish Lamberton displayed in Round 1 should give the team in orange some hope. They might not be favourites, but it’s worth noting that Spartans won on their last visit to Christie Park.
Why you should watch this: these two teams will be looking to atone for heavy opening round defeats, which should make for a keenly fought contest.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v Central Coast Mariners FC, Saturday 19th March, 7pm, Bonnyrigg Sports Club
You know how sometimes the pain of a narrow defeat motivates you to raise your level for your next game? That’s exactly what both sets of coaches and supporters are hoping for here.
Bonnyrigg’s Round 1 defeat is a reminder that there are no easy games in this league. Head coach Abbas Saad has a wealth of experience both in Australia and overseas, so you can be confident that the White Eagles can learn from any setbacks. That experience is reflected in the playing group as well – legendary goalkeeper James Chronopoulos is tough for any opposing forward to beat, while the dynamic duo of Asmir Kadric and Radovan Pavicevic will threaten at the other end of the field.
For Central Coast, there’s no need to panic, despite their heartbreaking loss on Sunday. The Mariners are the last team to win a grand final in this division and were competitive in 2021, so we can expect them to be up there at the business end of the campaign. Head coach Andrew Christiansen has his team playing nice football (as you’d expect from an A-League Academy), which allows the likes of Harry McCarthy and Harrison Steele to shine.
Why you should watch this: expectation is high in both camps and with good reason, as there is plenty of talent spread across the two teams. If you go to the Bonnyrigg Sports Club on Saturday night, make sure you get a ćevapi sandwich!
Mounties Wanderers FC v Hakoah FC, Saturday 19 March, 7:30pm, Valentine Sports Park No. 2
The recent rain means that the Mounties tour of Western Sydney’s synthetic venues continues: this weekend will see them pitch up at Football NSW headquarters for an intriguing game against Hakoah.
After the struggles Mounties had last season, a first up win against a strong Bonnyrigg side is just what they need to fill the squad with confidence. Brad Bartels is the kind of player who will run for the full 90 minutes, and his late winner on the weekend is just reward for all that effort. The unmistakable Bruno Pivato will be pulling the strings in midfield, and forwards such as Mathew Khalil could benefit from Pivato’s playmaking abilities.
Luiz Lobo was Hakoah’s attacking all-star on the weekend, with his brilliant free kick proving to be the difference at Ilinden Sports Centre. Lobo has the trickery to unlock any backline and Mounties need to be wary of the Brazilian number 10. In what is expected to be a tight game, defence will be key, so Hakoah will lean on the pair of Yianni Spyrakis and Daniel Alessi as they look to keep another clean sheet.
Why you should watch this: both teams are trying to maintain that winning feeling after wins in Round 1 and we can expect this game to go right down to the wire.
You can catch all League One Men’s action (wash-out dependent) on NPL.TV, brought to you by Cluch.