Seven rounds to go, the top five of the competition looks set. Five doesn’t go into four though and it being the FNSW League One Men’s competition, you can still expect some surprises yet.
This weekend in round 16, there’s another top five contest between Northern Tigers and Western Sydney Wanderers, while NWS Spirit look to consolidate a place in the top four. That and much more has us itching for the weekend.
Our Pick: Northern Tigers FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC; Saturday 25 June, 7pm, North Turramurra Recreation Area
Another week, Another big game in the League One Men’s competition as Northern Tigers host league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers at North Turramurra Recreation area.
We’re used to Northern Tigers been associated with late goals but not necessarily when it comes to conceding late goals. Yes, it’s becoming a bit of an unfortunate pattern for the Tigers having conceded late in three of their last four games in crucial moments.
Last weekend it was against St George FC on the road. Having held the lead for the majority of the fixture courtesy of an early Shervin Adeli goal, the Tigers conceded a late penalty which gave NWS Spirit a chance to overtake them, an opportunity which they took.
It’s the first time in a long while that the Tigers have found themselves sitting outside the all-important top four and there will be a lot of intrigue in how they respond here.
Now holding the league’s longest unbeaten streak, Western Sydney Wanderers sit atop of the charts with seven weeks remaining. Last weekend they showed something we really haven’t seen this season, and that was their ability to win ugly.
Playing away at Cook Park, the young Wanderers got stuck in an arm wrestle and were perhaps fortunate to walk away with the points, Connor Rose finding the net with a header right before the break. Rose just one of the many attacking weapons in the side with 8 goals so far this season.
The hunter becomes the hunted, we are yet to see how Western Sydney Wanderers cope with being top of the table and this one promises a lot for those brave enough to endure the coldest place on earth.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v NWS Spirit FC; Saturday 25 June, 7pm, Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Our two cup qualifiers meet as Bonnyrigg White Eagles host NWS Spirit at Bonnyrigg Sports Club.
It took fifteen rounds, but we finally saw a coach casualty in the league with Bonnyrigg White Eagles parting ways with Abbas Saad after a disappointing result last weekend. Sitting in ninth position, it’s been a frustrating campaign so far for a team many had in their top four this season.
Some encouraging wins over Hakoah (R3), Northern Tigers (R11) and Mounties (R12) proved they can match it with good sides in this division, but they came too few and far between with Saad and his team struggling for consistency. Now it’s a sense of déjà vu as the club have parted ways with their coach midway through the season two years in a row.
Sitting twelve points behind their opposition this week, they’ll be looking to restore some pride in this one.
If you weren’t paying attention to the NWS Spirit before, you certainly will be now as David Perkovic’s side stretched their unbeaten run to twelve. Having played 120 minutes last Thursday, the Spirit backed it up with a stunning effort against Central Coast Mariners at Pluim.
Very much a game of two halves, the Spirit were impressive in the first rewarded with a stunning strike from Dominic Johns. Then things looked to take a turn for the worse when Louis Bozanic was sent off however Perkovic’s team showed a lot of heart to hold firm under pressure showing why they’re the second-best defense in the league.
After a hectic schedule, the Spirit will come into this one fresh and with a big game against Northern Tigers in a couple of weeks, they’ll be determined to keep the momentum going.
St George City v St George FC; Saturday 25 June, 6pm, Penshurst Park
It’s derby day once again in Sydney’s South as St George City play host to St George FC in what promises to be one of the games of the round.
After a couple of defeats leading into last week’s game, St George City bounced back with an important victory over Hakoah FC last weekend. And come seasons end, it will probably be one of the important ones of the season as we enter the final stretch of the season.
Both Tarik Ercan and Nathan Roberts found the net, Roberts with the pick of the goals with a stunning strike in the second half to double their advantage. Four points above the fifth placed side, they’ll see this as a chance to possibly stretch their advantage with six games to come after that.
After missing out on their chance for local bragging rights earlier in the season, you can be sure City will be up for this one Saturday night.
It’s a tricky task for them though as St George FC will have gained confidence from last week’s result. Yes, despite a draw leaving them ten points behind the four (9 points for finals), Mark Milligan’s side would love nothing more than getting one over their local rivals.
In the aforementioned match against Northern Tigers, St George definitely showed signs of their progression as a unit matching it with their visitors. Cam Philpot converted from the spot in second half injury time, a goal which they felt like they deserved on their second half performance.
Undefeated in four games, it’s the strongest St George have looked coming into a derby in recent times. The two sides couldn’t be separated back in round five drawing 1-1.
Mounties Wanderers FC v SD Raiders FC; Saturday 25 June, 7pm, Cook Park (Mt Pritchard)
Two sides in desperate need of a victory face off as Mounties Wanderers host SD Raiders at Cook Park.
With Mounties Wanderers not tasting victory since round eight and SD Raiders only scoring two goals since the same round, something has got to give when they meet Saturday night.
It was in fact this reverse fixture which saw the Mounties Wanderers go on a four-game winning streak in the first half of the season. However to do the same here, they will need to overcome a winless run stretching back seven fixtures.
Last week though was perhaps one of their better showings in that run in their fixture against Western Sydney Wanderers. After a six goal defeat a week before, Jerry Bilokapic’s side showed a lot of character in an improved performance all round, particularly in defense.
Recent results are not pretty reading for SD Raiders and their fans. Having not scored a goal in their past four fixtures, the Raiders have lost three and drawn one of their past fixtures. Last week drawing with Blacktown Spartans at Ernie Smith.
In that one, Mario Aleksik impressed in goal while Riley Cox-Barlow and Daniel Bittar continue to look lively up front. But Goran Ljuboja will be looking to the more traditional goal scorers in the team to start providing the goals before the streak extends any further. They’ll be keen to bounce back after going down to Mounties in the first round.
Blacktown Spartans FC v Hills United FC; Saturday 25 June, 7pm, Blacktown Football Park
Blacktown Spartans host round fifteen victors Hills United at Blacktown Football Park, Saturday night.
Seven weeks without a victory leading into last weekend, the three points were certainly welcome for Hills United in round fifteen. And you’d have to say they deserved them as well after encouraging performances against Western Sydney Wanderers and Northern Tigers in the weeks prior.
So let’s take a look into their victory over Bonnyrigg last weekend. Jordan Parfait grabbed the headlines with a brace, but there were plenty of positives all over the park including young goalkeeper Riccardo Rizzo who has played in their last four games after moving from the Mariners.
With confidence high, it’s not hard to see them securing back-to-back wins, a feat they haven’t achieved since 2019.
They face a Blacktown Spartans side who walked away from last weeks match wondering how they didn’t win it. Yes, against the SD Raiders, the Spartans created almost twice as many chances as their opposition but walked away with nothing after the ninety minutes.
It means the Spartans are now firmly planted in the mid table after fifteen weeks needing a minor miracle to catch the top five from here. Still Andy Montgomery’s team will want to show progress in the remainder of their fixtures particularly after losing their unbeaten home record last time they hosted a game at Blacktown Football Park.
They will be looking to better the 2-2 draw they played out in round five.
Central Coast Mariners FC v Hakoah FC; Sunday 26 June, 3pm, Pluim Park
Central Coast Mariners will look to bounce back from a round fifteen defeat when they welcome Hakoah to Pluim Park.
After going on a seven-game unbeaten streak which included six victories, the Mariners streak was ended last weekend in their game against NWS Spirit at Pluim Park. Now sitting in second position, they’ll be looking to reclaim top position with a win this week.
It’s the third time this season that Andrew Christiansen’s side has been held scoreless this season, the others being their game earlier in the season against NWS Spirit and their clash against St George City a few weeks back. With a clash against Western Sydney Wanderers awaiting them in round seventeen, you better believe they’ll be looking to return to winning ways in this one.
Results are coming in threes for Hakoah FC in recent times. Winless in three, they then won the next three before going winless in three once again. So, if results keep going to pattern, will we see them pull off a shock here?
Last week was a tough one for Luka Hrzina’s side who drew with Bonnyrigg on two occasions (in 90 minutes*) before losing to St George City on the weekend. Against City they were competitive in the opening half before City hit the accelerator early in the second half, something the hosts struggled to cope with before conceding twice. James Demetriou with the late goal to bring them back in.
Nine points below fourth on the table, Hakoah are another side needing a minor miracle if they hold promotion hope, a miracle starting here.
By FNSW League One Men’s writer Justin Smith