As the season begins to heat up, round eight of League Two Men’s gifts us with some tantalising matchups across the league.
Our match of the round takes us to the Crest Athletic Centre, as Canterbury Bankstown host a resurgent Central Coast United side.
It’s a Saturday night showdown in League Two, with all six games kicking off at the same time.
Bankstown United return to Jensen Park to host Macarthur Rams, Inner West Hawks look to kick start its season when they battle Sydney University, Dunbar Rovers lock horns with Bankstown City.
Dulwich Hill look to get back on track against Inter Lions, as Gladesville return to Christie Park to entertain Rydalmere Lions.
Saturday 30th April 2022
Match of the Round: Canterbury Bankstown FC vs Central Coast United FC, 7pm @ The Crest Athletic Centre
The match of the round for round eight gives us an entertaining affair, with Canterbury Bankstown and Central Coast both looking to keep up their good run of form.
The Berries are riding high on confidence, on the heels of a two-game win streak and in the midst of a purple-patch in attack.
With six goals in the last two outings, the Berries will be hard to stop in front of goal, with a lethal attacking trio of Gabi Lopez, Nathan Manno and Bonmyeong Koo.
The trio have led the way for Canterbury Bankstown thus far and linked up for all three goals last week.
With another similar performance this week, the Berries will feel confident of a win, however they must remain wary of their opponents, who possess very similar strengths.
Central Coast enter this game from a similar path, winning its last two and producing its best football thus far.
United possess a potent attack, led by Josh Swadling and Daniel McFarlane, however they have been inconsistent defensively, yet to keep a clean sheet this season.
Last week’s victory over Inner West propelled them into top eight contention for the first time this season, a spot they’ll be looking to make their own come seasons end.
Central Coast have struggled on the road this year, with just one point from the first four games away from home.
History will be on the side of the Berries, however we are sure to see an extremely competitive game on Saturday night.
Bankstown United FC vs Macarthur Rams FC, 7pm @ Jensen Park
Bankstown United return home to host Macarthur Rams, in a clash that could go either way.
United were left with just one-point from a game that promised so much more against Sydney Uni.
United coach Scott Belgre, noted the improvement his side made defensively, claiming a first clean sheet of the season last week.
However, United fumbled their chances in front of goal and were left kicking themselves over not being able to find the net.
The hosts, who currently sit bottom for goals scored (4), will be looking to take Macarthur’s defence head-on, bulking up the goal scoring tally in the process.
Macarthur share the same sentiment as their opponents this week, disappointment from a tough result in round seven.
The Rams not only suffered a tough one-goal defeat, but will head into this game without Jacob McDonald, who is out due to a red-card last week.
Macarthur’s usually tight-defence has been opened up in recent weeks, with eight of its 12 goals conceded this season coming in the last three weeks.
They’ll be looking to prove this was a mere outlier and look to tighten up the backline quickly.
Macarthur enter this match-up as the favourites, but must remain vigilant of a United resurgence on Saturday night.
Inner West Hawks FC vs Sydney University SFC, 7pm @ Arlington Oval
Arlington Oval plays host to an interesting battle between Inner West Hawks and Sydney University.
The Hawks enter this matchup on the heels of another disappointing 3-2 loss, this time at the hands of Central Coast.
With an average of 2.8 goals conceded per game, the Hawks will have to be strong defensively to hold out Sydney Uni.
Although they’re in the midst of a six-game streak without a point, there is plenty of optimism around this squad.
The feeling is the positive results are coming and they find themselves with a good opportunity to rejuvenate their season on Saturday night.
On the other side of this matchup, Sydney Uni are coming off a below par showing against Bankstown United last week.
Although they lacked a killer instinct in front of goals, if Peter Crevani can continue his dangerous form in attack, the goals will surely follow.
On the opposite side of the field, Anthony Costa is coming off arguably his best game this season and will look to keep a second-straight clean sheet.
Uni will be aiming for a bounce back performance as they attempt to reassert pressure on the top-eight sides.
It’ll be an incredibly tight affair that is sure to leave the fans entertained.
Dunbar Rovers FC vs Bankstown City FC, 7pm @ Fraser Park
Dunbar Rovers return to Fraser Park to host third-placed Bankstown City.
The Rovers head into this matchup after a positive draw with Rydalmere, where they felt they had a chance to take all three points.
Keeping this confidence will be key in taking down Bankstown City, who have proven its clinical nature in attack.
However, Dunbar are currently tied first for the best defensive record in the league, conceding only eight goals thus far.
With three clean sheets on the season, Dunbar’s effort on the defensive end has given them the reputable tag of being a hard team to crack down.
Bankstown City are fired up for this matchup, eager to put last week’s performance against Inter Lions firmly in the rear view mirror.
City will enter this matchup down a man, as Patrick Deasy sits out due to suspension.
Sitting in second place for least amount of goals conceded (9), shot-stopper Jair Fernandez put in his best work last week, keeping City in the contest against a rampant Inter attack.
The visitors will also be looking to recapture its early-season form in front of goals, with just two goals in the last two weeks.
It’s a tight contest to call, City have a slight upper hand, but don’t count Dunbar out.
Inter Lions FC vs Dulwich Hill FC, 7pm @ Majors Bay Reserve
In a close contender for match of the round, it’s a potential finals preview with first-place Inter Lions taking on fourth-place Dulwich Hill.
Inter returned to the winners circle last week and remain one of two teams undefeated in League Two.
The Lions currently hold the best attacking record in the league, with an average of 3.1 goals per game.
The league-leaders are flourishing with confidence and are looking to finally breakaway from Rydalmere in second-place.
Their opponents this week, Dulwich Hill are on the heels of an eight-goal thriller last week, taking Gladesville Ryde to the final second to salvage a draw.
Dulwich showed a strong fighting spirit, coming back from three unanswered goals to rescue a point in the final seconds.
Taking the positives and learning from the mistakes in that game will be critical for a result this week.
Harry Browell and Conor Eldridge could prove to be difference makers, as the duo look for a repeat of last week’s performance.
Inter were tested last week against another top-four opposition and will have to remain cautious of a Dulwich side that could cause an upset.
Gladesville Ryde Magic vs Rydalmere Lions FC, 7pm @ Christie Park
Our final game of the round takes us to Christie Park, as Gladesville Ryde host the undefeated Rydalmere Lions.
Gladesville Ryde will be feeling empty, after conceding a last-second penalty to Dulwich Hill, cancelling out a spectacular comeback.
The hosts will have to do without Sergio Tarzona this week, as he sits out with a suspension.
The Magic who previously held the league’s best defensive record will have to be back at their best this week to hold out the Lions.
Key to this is as always the consistent performances of veteran goalkeeper Kiriakos Tohourglou, who made several crucial saves last week to keep his side alive.
Rydalmere will be aware of the strong Magic defence, as they too will look to convert last week’s draw into three points.
The battle of the goalkeepers may be the deciding factor in this fixture, with Dimitri Makapagkal finding his best form for the Lions last week.
The Lions potent attack was held at bay last week and will be aiming to get back on a positive path in round eight.
Rydalmere need a result to keep the pressure on Inter, who only lead them by goal difference.
With both sides fighting for a chance to maintain their own goals this season, it’ll sure be to sure create an incredibly competitive atmosphere.
By Football NSW Men’s League Two Writer, Dominic Criniti @DominicCriniti