It’s a new dawn in the Football NSW League One Men’s season with a competition restructure adding a further two games every weekend.
With players and coaches settling in to their new clubs and the early start, expect the unexpected as we get going.
Match of the Round: St George FC v Macarthur Rams FC; Saturday 4 February, 7pm, Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre
Our first match of the round of the season sees St George FC host Macarthur Rams in what promises to be a blockbuster clash to open the season.
On paper, this is a strong looking St George FC side. The Saints have recruited strongly from their local rivals St George City bringing in four players who featured in their championship run last season. As well as a few players with experience in the NPL with Sutherland. A team who struggled for goals last season, they’ll be hoping to kick start their season their account here.
Returning to the division after being relegated in 2019, Macarthur Rams come into the season on the back of a championship trophy. They know however that they will need to be more consistent if they are to reach their goal in 2023. As such, Brett Hewit has brought in some reinforcements leading into the new year with Alex Gollan, Daniel Bittar and Matthew Barkho joining the club.
The first meeting of the two sides since 2017, this game will be a good indicator as to how the promoted sides are going to adapt to the division. Catch the action on NPL.TV this Saturday night as our first match of the round of the season.
Central Coast United FC v Mounties Wanderers FC; Saturday 4 February, 5pm, Pluim Park
Central Coast United and Mounties Wanderers kick off the League One Men’s season with a clash at Pluim Park, Saturday afternoon.
The hosts Central Coast United have made Pluim Park a fortress of theirs throughout their history. Last season they went unbeaten across 90 minutes at Pluim and they’ll be wanting to continue that in 2023. Led by captain Daniel Mcfarlane, the pirates will relish the challenge of hosting an existing league one side.
Mounties Wanderers come into the season on the back of another squad rebuild. After a forgettable back half to last season, they weren’t shy of changing things with 14 players departing the club. Look out for the new additions to the team to make an impact here.
Dunbar Rovers FC v SD Raiders FC; Saturday 4 February, 7pm, Fraser Park
Dunbar Rovers host their first game in League One when they welcome SD Raiders to Fraser Park this weekend.
With one of the more settled squads in the league, Dunbar Rovers will see this as a chance to hit the ground running. However to do so, they will have to snap a three game losing streak at Fraser Park towards the back end of last season. A new side in the division, they will relish the challenge of facing an existing league one side in round one.
It’s hard to believe that only two coaches survived at existing league one clubs last season, one of them being Goran Ljuboja at SD Raiders. Recruiting primarily young players, we can expect them to be hungry in this one. Winning more points away from home last season, this will be an intriguing matchup at Fraser Park.
Inter Lions FC v Rydalmere Lions FC; Saturday 4 February, 7pm, Majors Bay Reserve
Two sides who featured in the League Two finals series meet as Inter Lions host Rydalmere Lions at Majors Bay Reserve.
It’s a repeat of the league two Major Semi-Final which saw Inter Lions prevail convincingly last season. John Theodoropoulos will be looking for a repeat performance from his side here. Since then, they have only strengthened with five acquisitions in the transfer window so look out for them come Saturday night.
This clash will be the first under Paul Fraser for Rydalmere Lions. Fraser comes into the gig after leading their 20’s side last season. On the park it’s been a busy off season with ten new players joining the club, as such it may take them a little while to gel. A club with big ambitions in 2023, it will be a fascinating watch tracking their progress throughout the season.
Northern Tigers FC v Blacktown Spartans FC; Saturday 4 February, 7pm, North Turramurra Recreation Area
We’ve been here before, Northern Tigers host Blacktown Spartans at North Turramurra Recreation Area in opening round action.
The clash will bring back good memories for Northern Tigers who prevailed in last year’s round one clash 8-2. Much has changed since, with plenty of star power moving to NPL sides over the break, so they could be vulnerable here.
Blacktown Spartans have undergone a rebuild of their first team set up. Ben Rollison will finally take charge of a game in the division after a false start previously. New faces with a lot to prove, who knows what to expect from them in round one action.
Hakoah FC v Canterbury Bankstown FC; Saturday 4 February, 7:30pm, Hensley Athletic Field
Hensley Athletic Field hosts round one action as Hakoah FC welcome Canterbury Bankstown back to the division, Saturday night.
Sensing a theme? There has been plenty of change at Hakoah FC this season with effectively a whole new squad. Craig Sharpley takes to the dugout for his first competitive game in charge and will be using his knowledge of the clubs youth system throughout the season. On the park, Cam Philpot and Finley Hayhurst look good signings for the year ahead.
Winning three of their last four games in League two last season, Canterbury Bankstown stand as one of the form teams coming into 2023. Experienced coach Wally Savor returns to the division with a squad who served him well in 2022. On top of that, they have added a few signings to add some experience to the youthful squad.
Bankstown City FC v Hills United FC; Saturday 4 February, 7:30pm, Jensen Park
You can almost smell the kebapi already, Bankstown City host Hills United in an intriguing matchup at Jensen Park.
A club many would associate higher up in the pyramid than where they were last season, Bankstown City make their return to tier two football at home. Some shrewd acquisitions sees them in a good spot heading into the season with a top half finish looking manageable.
Hills United know they have to perform at a consistent level this season. A victim to some unfortunate injuries last season, they’ve have set about recruiting some depth for the upcoming campaign. Finishing last season they will be looking to make a statement here in round one.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v Dulwich Hill FC; Sunday 5 February, 5pm, Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Speaking of quality league one food destinations, Bonnyrigg White Eagles host Dulwich Hill to conclude the round in a rare Sunday afternoon fixture at Bonnyrigg Sports Club.
After an absence away, Bonnyrigg club favourite Brian “Bomber” Brown returns to the dugout at Bonnyrigg Sports Club. And his brought some reinforcements with him including one of the league’s most prolific goal scorers Emmanuel Gonzalez. If they stay fit, surely they are one of the teams to beat in 2022, starting here.
Not just here to make up the numbers, that’s the point Dulwich Hill will be looking to make against one of the competitions heavyweights. With a similar look to their 2022 side, they’ll be hoping for a more consistent look on the park.
Reminder that you can catch the FNSW League One Men’s Match of the round on NPL.TV powered by Cluch every weekend this season.
By League One Men’s Journalist Justin Smith