With the halfway mark of the season upon us we have one more set of Football NSW League One Men’s fixtures before we go around again.
In round eleven, our pick takes us to Cook Park for 5th v 6th in the competition, while another mid-table affair at Ernie Smith Reserve also catches the eye.
Our Pick: Mounties Wanderers FC v NWS Spirit FC; Saturday 21 May, 7pm, Cook Park (Mt Pritchard)
Two sides in contrasting form meet in Sydney’s South-West as Mounties Wanderers host NWS Spirit at Cook Park.
In a case of a cup fixture coming at the right time, Mounties Wanderers were able to restore some confidence midweek after two league losses in a row in the League One competition. When we last met them, Jerry Bilokapic’s side came out second best in a tussle against Northern Tigers.
However, the result is a clear sign that the side is progressing as the competition rolls on. Defensively, Jerry Bilokapic has his side well set up having only conceded fourteen goals in their opening ten games, the problem coming at the other end with Brad Bartels contributing over half the goals they have scored this season. With another six weeks or so to the transfer window opens, they are going to need to find a way to score more goals in forthcoming weeks.
Five games and counting, confidence is building for their visitors this weekend in NWS Spirit. After a shaky start to the season, fortunes seemed to change at half time in their derby match against Northern Tigers and they haven’t looked back since scoring at least three goals in their past five competitive fixtures.
Last week (and again midweek), it was victory over Hills United in both league and cup. The league game being the more comfortable of the two games where they had four different scorers in Louis Bozanic, Dominic Johns, Michael Konestabo and Kota Odakura. They claimed victory in their only other game on natural turf this season, so can they repeat the task at Cook Park for a Perkovic derby?
Fifth against Sixth in a top four race, this isn’t a hard sell in what promises to be one of the games of the weekend.
Hills United FC v St George City; Saturday 21 May, 7pm, Blacktown City Sports Centre
It doesn’t get any easier for Hills United as St George City come to their home in round eleven action.
One of the great things about this competition is its ability to spring a surprise and there would be no greater one than Hills United pulling out a result in this one. As we approach the half way point of the season, the team from Sydney’s North-West have only a win and a draw to their name.
Last weekend, Bombers team showed some glimpses of quality on the road to NWS Spirit but were unable once again to match their opposition consistently over the ninety minutes eventually going down by a four-goal margin. With any hopes of finals or promotion fading, it will be interesting to see what this Hills team can do in the second half of the season.
In a stark contrast to their opposition, St George City have firmly established themselves as a contender in 2022. One of three sides who are averaging two points or more per game, City have looked solid on the road so far this season picking up eight points from their four fixtures.
Last weekend, they left it late against Bonnyrigg White Eagles at the Bonnyrigg Sports Club. After conceding an unlucky goal in the first half, Mirko Jurilj’s side showed what we already knew, they know how to win courtesy of goals to Paolo Mitry and Nicholas Kalergou. With a couple of tricky fixtures on the horizon, City will want to build some momentum with a win in this one and a cup tie midweek.
Northern Tigers FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC; Saturday 21 May, 7pm, North Turramurra Recreation Area
You don’t want to lose too many games at home and Northern Tigers will be looking to restore their advantage when Bonnyrigg White Eagles come to town.
It was a return to winning ways for the competition leaders last weekend as they triumphed over Mounties Wanderers at Rydalmere Park. Hiyori Kawaguchi opened the scoring before Mounties Wanderers showed desperation usually saved for the final stages of the season in the final minutes.
As such, you wouldn’t consider it an easy victory but a very important one in the context of the Tigers season. Standing out in the fixture were the performances of Bailey Rule and Kawaguchi in the wing back roles either side of the park, while it was a welcome return to the side for Jack Fulton who came off the bench for half an hour of action. Twenty-five points from the first half of the season would be music to the ears of Northern Tigers fans, can they reach it in this one?
For Bonnyrigg White Eagles, a cup tie midweek was a welcome distraction as they found the net against Bankstown City three times before proceedings were brought to a halt, with Marie Gauthier securing a brace.
Before that though, it’s been tough going for Abbas Saad’s team who haven’t picked up a league win in their last five games. Last weekend being a defeat to St George City where they conceded twice in the last ten minutes after Jack Kuipers scored earlier in the fixture. Who speaking of, produced one of his better performances in the competition this year particularly offensively. We say it every week, Bonnyrigg need to start picking up results soon if they want to compete higher up in the competition and what better way than against our competition leaders?
SD Raiders FC v Hakoah FC; Saturday 21 May, 7pm, Ernie Smith Reserve
Another big game in the context of these two clubs’ seasons, SD Raiders welcome Hakoah FC to Ernie Smith Reserve, Saturday evening.
Although both these sides could do with a win, you would argue that the onus is more on SD Raiders to take three points being the home side. With only three wins in their opening ten games, it’s not a must-win just yet but it soon will be given they’ve lost six games already this season.
Last weekend is one they would rather forget, going down to Central Coast Mariners at Pluim Park in a match they never really got going. Considering they only have the league to worry about opposed to their opponents and some players are closed to returning, this is a chance to kick start the second half of the season with another winnable game in round twelve of the competition.
Their opposition Hakoah FC can’t seem to buy a win in the league at the moment. In fact, you have to go back to a round three victory over St George City at Penshurst Park back in early April to find one. However, they will be looking to take their momentum from round ten into this one this weekend.
In which they came from behind twice against Blacktown Spartans twice, with Dominic Cox playing a starring rule for the hosts. Having only scored thirteen goals in their opening ten games and with the window not opening for another month, they’re going to have to find a way to score their goals in the second half of the season. Well done to the club on a cup victory against Marconi Tuesday night as well.
It’s an important game as the top five six teams threaten to pull away from the pack with a draw suiting neither team. With the stakes being raised as they weeks progress, this one is worth keeping an eye on.
St George FC v Central Coast Mariners FC; Saturday 21 May, 7pm, Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre
After giving Western Sydney Wanderers a scare in round ten, St George FC will be wanting to go one better as they face Central Coast Mariners at home.
At the risk of sounding patronizing, it was a result which would give Mark Milligan and his side confidence that they are on the right path going forward. A brace to Anthony Morabito put the Saints ahead up until the last fifteen minutes of the fixture, however they just couldn’t hold on.
And just to hammer home the point of their competitiveness, the Saints have led at some point in their past six league fixtures. So, you would suggest as the season progresses, that will be a large focus for Milligan and his young side as they become more game aware as the weeks progress. With nothing too lose against the second placed side, can they spring an upset in this one?
It won’t be easy though as Central Coast Mariners are cementing themselves as one of the favourites for promotion in 2022. Proving really hard to beat at home, Andrew Christiansen’s side are now starting to pick up results on the road as well winning two of their last three fixtures away from home.
Last weekend however it was once again an impressive performance at Pluim Park. Jackson Khoury impressed in attacking midfield along with Lachlan Bayliss who now has nine goals in ten games. While Teng Kuol continues to be an x-factor off the bench as well. One loss in their past nine games, anyone seeing similarities to their 2020 side?
Western Sydney Wanderers FC v Blacktown Spartans FC; Saturday 21 May, 7pm, Wanderers Football Park
It’s something which has been building up for a couple of months now with their campaigns leading up to this one night. That’s right, it’s the Battle of Eastern Road as Western Sydney Wanderers host driveway neighbors Blacktown Spartans. You thought I was talking about something else there, didn’t you?
When they win, they win handsomely! Comfortably leading the goalscoring table in 2022, Western Sydney Wanderers have made a habit of a convincing win at home scoring an eyewatering twenty-one goals in their six fixtures at Wanderers Football Park.
Last weekend though, they showed another attribute to their game in coming from behind against St George FC. After Dean Pelekanos opened the scoring, the young Wanderers then conceded two before the break. But instead of showing frustration, they remained calm in their ways, rewarded with two late goals to give them their third straight victory with another one here solidifying their position in the four at the halfway mark.
A point gained or two points lost? That’s the question for Blacktown Spartans after their thrilling two all draw at Hensley Athletic last weekend. Well, that and which dressing room they’re going to use this weekend as they make the trip down the driveway.
Winning on the road is proving to be a tough ask across the competition, but there’s no better side to use as an example of that than the Spartans as they’re undefeated at home in their three games while only picking up five points in their other seven. Last weekend, they took the lead twice through Emmanuel Gonzalez who has found his goalscoring touch and Hamish Lamberton, so look out for them as their main threats in this one. Any points would be considered a win here with eight games at home in the second half of the season.
By FNSW League One Men’s writer Justin Smith