It only feels right that the League One Men’s premiership comes down to the final game.
By the end of Round 22, we could feasibly have four different teams claiming the honour by the end of the weekend.
Central Coast Mariners come in favourites with a win against St George giving them the premiership, but if they don’t it’s anyone’s game with St George City and Western Sydney Wanderers looking to put pressure on them the night before.
For the last time in this regular season, join us as we preview the weekends action.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v Northern Tigers FC; Saturday 6 August, 5pm, Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Bonnyrigg White Eagles host a finals bound Northern Tigers side in round 22 action in Sydney’s South-West.
Kicking off at an early time with a Serbian festival at the same venue, you can at least be sure the commentator (and the players) will be enjoying themselves here. On the field however, this Bonnyrigg side will be looking to end the season on a positive note after a disappointing campaign.
Last weekend they came rather close to victory against St George City at Penshurst Park. The main story there being Maksim Jez who scored a second half brace to give them a lead before the hosts equalized late. It’s a rare chance for Eagles to secure a sweep over their opposition after they prevailed back in round eleven at North Turramurra.
With a finals series to come, Northern Tigers will be looking to score back-to-back wins for the first time since round seven to build up some momentum. Don’t expect it to be easy though as the Tigers have seemingly made a habit of doing things the hard way when they are to prevail.
Last weekend against Mounties Wanderers at North Turramurra, they scored two second half goals to overcome their opponents after trailing at the break. Rhys Williams, Kai Denton and Shervin Adeli found the net, but the big story was the reemergence of Joseph Fox who has been out since round fourteen with injury.
Blacktown Spartans FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC; Saturday 6 August, 7pm, Blacktown Football Park (Behind Closed Doors)
Some call it the battle of Eastern Rd, others the driveway derby. However, you term it, it’s one of the shortest away trips in football as Western Sydney Wanderers take on Blacktown Spartans.
After effectively falling out of finals contention with their loss to St George City a week ago, a weight has been lifted off the Blacktown Spartans squad. And it has shown on-field with the Spartans picking up a victory against Hakoah FC last weekend and a draw against Central Coast Mariners during the week.
From that past week, we have two talking points when it comes to club. Firstly, the continual goalscoring form of Emmanuel Gonzalez who could well take this season’s golden boot (currently sitting on 12 goals). And secondly, the departure of Andy Montgomery who with the clubs blessing has gone on to explore a new opportunity. Nonetheless, they’ll be keen to play spoiler once again here.
Let’s start the Western Sydney Wanderers section of the preview with a couple of stats. They have scored 16% of the leagues goals and games involving them account for a little over 23% of goals in the division. So, if goals take your fancy, pencil in games featuring them both in this round and the finals to come.
Last weekend, they scored three goals for the 13th time this season in defeating St George FC away from home. Zac Sapsford continued his goalscoring form with a brace bringing his tally to six in six since joining the club, while Jarrod Carluccio also found the net. With a game remaining in the season, they could finish anywhere from 1st to 4th on the table.
Hakoah FC v SD Raiders FC; Saturday 6 August, 7pm, Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah FC and SD Raiders will bring the curtain down on their respective seasons when they meet this Saturday night.
Win-Loss-Win-Loss-Win? It’s a form line which is enough to frustrate a competitions writer, let alone anyone associated with Hakoah. A team currently sitting in the best of the rest position yet capable of so much more, Hakoah will be looking for a win to end the season.
Last weekend however wasn’t pretty for Luka Hrzina’s team who went down to Blacktown Spartans away from home. Going down in the first half, they struggled to bring themselves back into the contest despite the potential reward of finals. Returning home with no pressure on them, they will be looking to do the season double over SD Raiders.
They face an SD Raiders side who will be desperate to break a losing streak in their last fixture of the season. Five games without a win, it’s been a tough month or so for Goran Ljuboja’s SD Raiders side who haven’t won a game at home since round 12.
Last weekend, they went down to the competition favourites in Central Coast Mariners. Yet the three-goal margin was perhaps a little harsh on the side from Sydney’s South West with all goals coming in a fifteen-minute period around the half time break. If they need any motivation for this one, they only have to look back to their last meeting where they conceded five two months ago.
St George City v Hills United FC; Saturday 6 August, 7pm, Penshurst Park
St George City have a chance to put the pressure on Central Coast Mariners when they meet Hills United this weekend.
Their premierships hopes took a dent last weekend, but St George City will be looking to farewell the division with a victory in their last regular season game. And if they do, they have a chance at the premiership with the possibility of finishing anywhere from 1st to 4th come the conclusion of the weekends action.
Last week, they had to produce a late equalizer to come away with a point against Bonnyrigg White Eagles. Alexander Malfara gave them the lead before Damian German scored the equalizer late in a final ten minutes where the hosts were rampant after clicking into gear. A win here would guarantee them a double chance in the forthcoming finals series.
They face a Hills United side who will be grateful for the season to end after a tough campaign. It’s been a tough few fixtures to end their season, coming up against three of the top four sides in their last few meetings of the season.
Last week turned out to be ugly in their last home game of the season going down by five goals to NWS Spirit. Vincent D’Ermilio found the net in the first half but they unfortunately came out second best on the night. This match gives them one last chance to score a point on the road this season, something they haven’t done till now.
Central Coast Mariners FC v St George FC; Sunday 7 August, 3pm, Pluim Park
Well, didn’t that midweek result make things interesting. The task is simple for Andrew Christiansen and his Mariners side, a win will give them the premiership while any other result and they’ll be relying on results elsewhere going into the final round of the competition.
After victory over SD Raiders last weekend away from home, the Mariners were left frustrated midweek after their contest with Blacktown Spartans. Coming from behind twice, both Dor Jok and Cameron Windust found the net to give them a point which sees them level with St George City on 44 points, with NWS Spirit and Western Sydney Wanderers the other contenders. Any way you put it; this will be riveting viewing on Sunday afternoon.
St George FC on the other hand have the chance to play spoiler to the Mariners party, Sunday afternoon. Clearly a side which has improved throughout the season, the Saints will be keen to make a statement in this one without any pressure on their shoulders.
Last weekend, the Saints went down to the other A-league academy in Western Sydney Wanderers at home. Having found his scoring boots halfway through the season, Cam Philpot scored his 9th goal of the season in the second half. In squad news, Jay Mcgowan secured a move abroad to Japan joining Yu Hasegawa in the country.
R18 Match Review: Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (Jok 19‘, Windust 69‘) v Blacktown Spartans FC 2 (Gonzalez 6‘ 48‘)
Central Coast Mariners came from behind twice to draw with Blacktown Spartans in a midweek fixture, Tuesday night.
It didn’t take long for the visitors to take a surprise lead in this one, an early attack down the right leading to the opener. Christian Nascimben playing the role of provider delivering the ball into the area from the right. And you guessed it, Emmanuel Gonzalez was there to steer it home past Marko Bulic in the Mariners net three minutes in.
A Mariners equalizer was forthcoming before the 20th minute. The hosts winning the ball high before switching the ball out left for Jacob Cresnar. Cresnar finding Dor Jok central with a ball across the face. Jok finishing with power into the back of the net.
Much like the first half, the Spartans came out of the gates the quickest. An early counterattack giving them the advantage once again, Gonzalez the scorer once again in the middle. Joel Beattie leads the attack down the right before playing the ball central to him.
But the Mariners were to hit back once again, Cameron Windust finding some space at the back of the pack before heading home past the Spartans keeper. Sasha Kuzevski with the deliver from a central left position.
By FNSW League One Men’s writer Justin Smith