It’s lights out and away we go for round five of the Football NSW League One Men’s competition.
With as many twists and turns as an F1 circuit, this weekend is highlighted by the Lewis Hamilton (Northern Tigers) and Max Verstappen (Western Sydney Wanderers) of the early stages of the season. While all the other action including two local derbies and a bonus review will leave you wanting a pit stop.
Our Pick: Western Sydney Wanderers FC v Northern Tigers FC; Sunday 10 April, 3pm, Wanderers Football Park
A month into the season, Second placed Western Sydney Wanderers host competition leaders Northern Tigers at Wanderers Football Park in a Sunday afternoon blockbuster.
Western Sydney Wanderers returned to winning ways in convincing fashion last weekend. Having tasted defeat for the first time the week previous, they put in a now trademark home ground display to topple Mounties Wanderers. And most impressive in that one, was the fact that Jordi Swibel didn’t score in the victory with the goals shared between Alex Badolato with a brace, George Antonis, Aiden Mostofi, and a goal of the season contender from Allesandro Lopane. The Wanderers haven’t lost at home in the previous five games at the venue and triumphed against Northern Tigers in the pre-season, though it will be a whole different side taking the field in this one.
They just keep picking up results! Unlike last season where they came into this fixture in hold and cold form with quite a few injuries in the squad, Adam Hett’s side come into round five having not tasted defeat. However, that’s not to say they have reached their full potential yet having seemingly just done enough to beat Hills United and St George FC. Last weekend against St George, it turned into a bit of a back five showcase with Scott Browning picking up the club player of the match. While Hiyori Kawaguchi (2 assists) and Bailey Rule also impressed from wide positions. Now facing a “tougher” opponent, Hett will want his side to put in a good performance all across the field.
Why you should watch this: Do I really need to do this? It’s a top of the table clash, sit back and enjoy!
SD Raiders FC v Mounties Wanderers FC; Saturday 9 April, 5pm, Valentine Sports Park No.3
One of two local matchups across the weekend, SD Raiders renew hostilities with Mounties Wanderers in the “early” kick off, Saturday evening.
Getting minutes into the legs. That’s the challenge Goran Ljuboja’s SD Raiders side has faced across the opening five rounds. With the recent wet weather hitting Sydney, their usual training routine has been disrupted, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that they fell victim to a late Blacktown Spartans comeback last weekend. One thing is still guaranteed when you watch SD Raiders this season and that’s goals with Noah Chianese and Mark Cindric adding to their tally last weekend. With another 90 minutes under their belt, can they add to their two victories this season in this one?
They face a Mounties Wanderers side who will be eager to bounce back after consecutive losses to both A-league academies on the road. It was a tail of two halves last weekend for Jerry Bilokapic’s side, conceding three before the break, they put in a much-improved effort from there on in. Rewarded with two goals to Brad Bartels who is averaging a goal a game. All the while introducing Jeremiah Dawo and Luke Kraljevic who made the jump from their under 18’s side appearing off the bench. With the A-league academies out of the way, Mounties will look at their next month of games as winnable. Can they? Time will tell.
Why you should watch this: These two sides have only ever met once in their history. Can Mounties Wanderers equal the head-to-head record here?
Hakoah FC v Central Coast Mariners FC; Saturday 9 April, 7pm, Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah FC will host their first game of the season when they welcome Central Coast Mariners to Eastgardens.
Home comforts have come at just the right time for Hakoah FC who tasted defeat for the first time this season, Tuesday night. There’s a short review down below, but Bonnyrigg White Eagles proved a bridge too far for Luka Hrzina’s men. Prior to that, they had a confidence boosting win against St George City with set piece king Luiz Lobo adding two to his season tally, joined by Dominic Cox on the scoresheet who is one of the best central midfielders in the competition. With a handy points tally leading into their first home game, they’ll be keen to set the standard at Hensley this season in this one.
It’s hard to get a read on Central Coast Mariners at the moment. With several of their players flirting with the edge of the A-league squad and a few injuries to academy first teamers, Andrew Christiansen has handed appearances to a staggering 26 players in the opening four weeks. Last weekend, they held on for a gritty draw with NWS Spirit, keeper Patrick Beach playing a starring role while the likes of Sasha Kuzevski, Dean Larson and Jackson Khoury are provide some stability to a rotating cast. If they’re looking for motivation, they need to look no further than their corresponding fixture last season, where they fell to a 2-0 defeat at Hensley.
Why you should watch this: Having used an eye-watering total of 26 players in the opening four rounds, What team will Central Coast Mariners field this weekend? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
St George FC v St George City; Saturday 9 April, 7pm, Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre
It’s derby day in Sydney’s South as Mark Milligan’s St George FC host neighbors St George City for the first time in 2022.
Although they tasted defeat last weekend, there was plenty to be positive about for St George FC last weekend. At one of the hardest venues to travel too in the division, they made Northern Tigers work hard for their victory.
Jordan Wang continues to impress, while Andrew Di Blasio, Mitchell Heapy and Marcus Mendes all made their first team debuts. Key to their chances this week will be the form of Anthony Morabito who has made two significant goal contributions in as many weeks. The Saints lost both derbies last season, Now with a youthful squad, who say’s they can’t upset their neighbors in this one?
Has the derby come at the right time for St George City? Not used to the taste of defeat over the past 12 months, Mirko Jurilj’s side fell just short against Hakoah FC last weekend. In that one, they took the lead twice courtesy of goals to Antonio Sarachino and Damian German before succumbing to a Luiz Lobo penalty.
However, the game also saw Alex Malfara return from injury and Jay Jay Morfitis play a role off the bench, the first two to return with more on the horizon. This will be the last time St George City “travel” over the next five weeks, if they bounce back and build some momentum here, they could be hard to stop.
Why you should watch this: Not many of St George FC’s squad have tasted the local derby. Will that be a positive or negative for this weeks hosts against a team who had their measure last season?
Hills United FC v Blacktown Spartans FC; Saturday 9 April, 7pm, Blacktown City Sports Centre
Hills United will be looking to break their winning duck when they host Blacktown Spartans at Blacktown City Sports Centre.
United once again find themselves looking up at the rest of the pack after a disappointing start to 2022. If we are to take positives from last weekend though, it would be that they seem to have tightened up their leaky defense having conceded twelve goals in the opening three weeks. With that, they should have further confidence at the other end as they look to improve their average of one goal per game in the opening four rounds. Expect them to come out with a point to prove in this one on their home turf.
Blacktown Spartans will be looking to carry the momentum of a two-goal comeback into their round five fixture. Goals in the last twenty minutes to Mason Ireland and Hamish Lamberton earned Andy Montgomery’s men a point against SD Raiders, with Jack Hutchings playing a part in his first start of the season. Of course, the ground will still bring a shudder for Blacktown Spartans, having not won a competitive league fixture there in over a decade. Coming in with some momentum, you get the sense they’ve never had a better chance to break their venue hoodoo than this weekends clash.
Why you should watch this: With Jordan Parfait and Hamish Lamberton leading each team’s attack, that battle will go along way to deciding this match up.
NWS Spirit FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC; Saturday 9 April, 7:30pm, Christie Park No.1
Yeah, there’s no shortage of top tier games this weekend is there! NWS Spirit host Bonnyrigg White Eagles in their second consecutive home fixture.
Frustration is the word you would associate with NWS Spirit at the moment. Not at the way they are playing, but at their lack of reward so far in 2022. Last weekend, they controlled large periods of their fixture against Central Coast Mariners but couldn’t get past their keeper Patrick Beach. With no return date on their first choice striking option, it’s going to be a matter of finding goals within those available. Look out for Geoffrey Lino and Michael Konestabo to be their main goal threats although Grant Cornwell or Kota Odakura can apparently play further up field (at least according to the club’s team of the week graphic).
Well… that performance midweek was fairly ominous for Bonnyrigg’s opposition wasn’t it! If you hadn’t caught up, we have a review below, but I’ll try sum it up here quickly. Aaron Peterson stole the headlines bagging a double, but there really wasn’t a bad player on the night against Hakoah. A Hakoah side which hadn’t tasted defeat prior to their meeting. Six points in the last couple of matches against Hills United and Hakoah mean suddenly we have the Bonnyrigg side many were expecting coming into the season.
Why you should watch this: Oh, how NWS Spirit could do with an Aaron Peterson. Anyway, back to topic, these two always entertain when they meet. Look no further to their last meeting for a reason to tune in.
Bonus Review: Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 3 (Gauthier 20’, Peterson 53’ 59’) v Hakoah FC 0
Bonnyrigg White Eagles made it back to back home victories against Hakoah FC in there round three postponed fixture.
Fresh off their victory over St George City on the weekend, Hakoah opened the game in terms of chances. Yianni Spyrakis having two in as many minutes, his best coming via a cut back from the left which fell to his feet just inside ten minutes.
However, with a front line like Bonnyrigg’s, the hosts were always a threat creating two chances in as many minutes around the 20th minute. Firstly, through the ageless Ray Miller whose lobbed effort went over the bar.
Before the scoring was opened through Marie Gauthier. Gauthier released on the right after a cross-field ball from Asmir Kadric. Gauthier with a classy finish into the far side netting beyond the reach of young Tom Alston.
In response, the visitors had a good spell in the final ten minutes of the half. The best chance of this period falling to Dominic Cox in the 43rd minute, Cox’s goal-bound shot blocked on it’s path by Jack Kuipers.
A one-goal lead became a two-goal lead, eight minutes into the second half, Ray Miller releasing Aaron Peterson beyond the visiting backline who obliged with the superb ball through putting it into the back of the net.
The Eagles were soaring at this point and Aaron Peterson found another on the hour mark, Peterson this time released by Miller’s replacement on the pitch Joshua Karantz.
From there on in, it was just a case of the game petering out, Hakoah not creating the same chances during the second period as they did in the first despite the efforts of Luiz Lobo and Yianni Spyrakis.
By FNSW League One Men’s reporter Justin Smith