With the temperatures cooling down, FNSW League One Men’s action is set to heat up in round 12 of the competition.
There’s plenty of action in the competition this weekend with a top of the table clash, two top six meetings, derbies and more, so let’s get into it.
Match of the Round: Macarthur Rams FC v Dulwich Hill FC; Saturday 22 April, 7pm, Lynwood Park.
Round twelve see’s our cameras make the trip south-west to the Macarthur region as the Rams host Dulwich Hill at Lynwood Park.
After both clubs have recently parted ways with their head coach, they both will be desperate to move forward with a victory in this one.
Macarthur Rams the most recent to undergo such a change sit in 12th position, coming into this one having suffered defeat in four of their last five. Last weekend was their first in 2023 without Brett Hewit in the dugout, a game in which they suffered heartache conceding to Inter Lions in injury time.
Anthony Proia is the head of their attack scoring ten of Macarthur’s sixteen goals this season, while Christian Torreli scored a brace last weekend.
Their opposition Dulwich Hill sit four points behind their opponents this weekend in 13th place. Having parted ways with their head coach a couple weeks ago, they’ve shown improvement under the leadership of Tony Valavanis.
In recent weeks, they have somewhat stemmed the number of goals they have conceded against Hills United and Rydalmere Lions. However, it is in front of goal where they will need to show improvement having scored just 9 times this season.
It’s set to be a hard-fought contest, one probably best enjoyed on demand post-game via the NPL.TV platform after heading to another game in this action-packed weekend.
Hills United FC v St George FC; Saturday 22 April, 7pm, Landen Stadium
It’s the one we’ve been waiting for! First placed Hills United host second placed St George FC in what could be the game of the season so far at Landen Stadium.
Let’s start with our current competition leaders Hills United. Round eleven saw them drop points for the first time in a while. No surprise when you consider they went close to 450 minutes without conceding a goal.
With the competitions second best attack and defense, confidence is high for Luke Casserly’s side. So many of this side would warrant a mention ahead of this one but let’s focus on Thomas Makko and Jamal Belkadi ahead of this one. Both exciting prospects, they have stepped up in some crucial moments in recent times so keep an eye out for them here.
If a sign of a good side is picking up points when backs are against the wall, St George FC are proving themselves on that front in recent times. They have played back-to-back high scoring games which is good for the neutral but probably could be a tad more comfortable for players and staff alike.
Last weekend, they came from behind against Bonnyrigg White Eagles with four second half goals. It was a good performance from the whole team but one man stood out in Jay Mcgowan who picked up a hat-trick. While behind him, keep an eye on Alex Malfara who has recently broke into the first team.
With just one point separating the sides on the table, these two teams have been the pacesetters in 2023 and this clash is set to showcase the competition at its best. It’s frustratingly not being streamed, so I urge you all to get out to Landen Stadium if you can.
Hakoah FC v Dunbar Rovers FC; Saturday 22 April, 5pm, Hensley Athletic Field
Can we call this a local derby? Two Eastern Suburbs based clubs in desperate need of a win meet at Hensley Athletic Field.
In a 30-week season, right about now is usually the time you want to find your rhythm and it’s something that is eluding Hakoah FC so far in 2023. However, a victory here could well change that as we approach the halfway point of the season.
With a thin looking roster approaching the campaign, having the right players on the park at the same time has been their primary struggle with captain Yianni Spyrakis and Conor Earley among others missing last week’s game against Northern Tigers. With a victory here it could set the stage for their return in forthcoming weeks.
Their opposition Dunbar Rovers picked up a confidence boosting away point against Canterbury Bankstown last weekend. Still, it wasn’t enough to prevent their return to the foot of the table after 11 rounds.
Having conceded just one goal in their last two outings, they look to have sorted their defense for the most part and their focus will quickly turn to their attack where they have only scored 7 goals so far this season.
Central Coast United FC v Canterbury Bankstown FC; Saturday 22 April, 5pm, Pluim Park
After their important victory last weekend, Central Coast United host Canterbury Bankstown at the ever-pleasant Pluim Park.
A long-awaited victory finally came for Central Coast United last weekend in our match of the round. Breaking a winless streak stretching back to round three, the Pirates put three goals past SD Raiders away from home in Dean Heffernan’s first game in charge.
And in further positive news for this week’s hosts, it was two attackers who had previously struggled to find the back of the net who contributed. Adam Woodbine winding back the clock to pick up a brace while Duncan Stewart also grabbed his first of the season.
It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for Canterbury Bankstown as of late. With two victories, two losses and a draw in their past five fixtures, they sit in a crowded midtable pack after eleven rounds.
Last weekend, it was disappointment however coming away with a scoreless draw against Dunbar Rovers at home. It was a fixture in which both sides were probably guilty of going through the emotions before the Berries had two chances cleared off the line late. They’ll be coming into this one wanting to prove a point.
SD Raiders FC v Mounties Wanderers FC; Saturday 22 April, 7pm, Ernie Smith Reserve
Two sides looking to return to winning ways meet when SD Raiders and Mounties Wanderers resume local hostilities at Ernie Smith Reserve.
April has not been kind to SD Raiders so far in 2023 who have just one point for their efforts from three fixtures. After gaining a point in dramatic fashion against Bankstown City in round ten, they struggled to overcome Central Coast United last weekend.
As such, they midfield pack has caught up to them with Goran Ljuboja’s side sitting in 8th position after eleven rounds. In their defeat last weekend, it was apparent how crucial Mark Cindric is to the Raiders attack, so they will be hopeful of a repeat performance here.
Their opposition Mounties Wanderers currently occupy 15th place on the table after eleven weeks. However, that position may be a bit misleading after showing improvement in the last couple of weeks following a regime change.
Last week’s loss to Bankstown City more down to wastefulness in front of goal opposed to anything else. With another week of training behind them under Nick Perocca, they’ll be confident of a positive result in this one.
Inter Lions FC v Blacktown Spartans FC; Saturday 22 April, 7pm, Majors Bay Reserve
Fifth placed Inter Lions host fourth placed Blacktown Spartans in another mouth-watering contest this Saturday evening.
They only went and did it again. It’s safe to say that last season’s League Two premiers Inter have found their feet in the competition. Four victories in a row including one over Macarthur Rams in a grand final rematch has them feeling good.
And what a way to do it having trailed 3-1 as late as the 76th minute with Oliver Green, Thomas Quilligan and Nicholas Paras all finding the back of the net. Sitting in fifth position, a win here could see them jump to third if results go their way.
They face a Blacktown Spartans side who are desperate to turn a point into three after three consecutive draws. There were more positives to take than negatives from round eleven action with that point coming against a highflying Hills United side.
Reduced to ten after Michael Figueira was sent off late in the first half, the fought hard to take a point from their opponents. Ben Rollison walking away pleased with his sides character and application in the second half. The challenge this week is taking that into this one against a side just behind them on the table.
Rydalmere Lions v Northern Tigers FC; Saturday 22 April, 7pm, Rydalmere Park
Three top six matchups in one timeslot? We really are spoilt for choice this Saturday night including this one between Rydalmere Lions and Northern Tigers.
The hosts Rydalmere Lions were able to bounce back from back-to-back defeats last weekend. Another team included in the crowded midfield pack after eleven rounds, they are yet to draw a game with six victories and five defeats.
Last weekend it was a victory by any means necessary, fighting hard to take the lead from an Ahmad Taleb goal after the hour mark before holding firm against Dulwich Hills advances for the rest of the contest. Looking for a second win against an existing league one side, this would be quite the statement if they were to pull it off.
Sign of something to click (read last week’s preview for that to make sense). The Northern Tigers have roared to life in recent weeks and look ominously poised in third position as we approach the end of the third month of the season.
It’s come on the back of the return of some familiar faces from injury, Scott Browning most notably stepping up with some important performances in recent weeks, rewarded with a goal last weekend against Hakoah FC. Defensively the Tigers seem to have it right going three games without conceding, do it again here and it’s hard not to see them taking away three points.
Bankstown City FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC; Saturday 22 April, 7pm, Jensen Park
Finally, this one is a streamed match worth watching live as Bankstown City host Bonnyrigg White Eagles at Jensen Park.
At their best, these two sides possess some of the best talent in the league, the problem though is they’ve struggled to perform at that level consistently.
Take last week’s Bonnyrigg White Eagles game for example. The first half saw them match it with 2nd placed St George FC taking a two-goal lead at the break courtesy of goals to Zac Sfiligoi and Aaron Peterson. However, an early goal in the second half for their opponents gave them a sniff and it ended up being a 4-2 defeat.
Sitting in 9th position, a win here is vital with one of the top two set to drop points this weekend.
Their hosts Bankstown City took a step in the right direction last weekend. After losing control of their fixture against SD Raiders the weekend before, they learnt their lesson and claimed an important victory last weekend.
Jonathan Grozdanovski picked up a goal early in the second half and they managed the game well from there. You have to go back to 2022 for the last time Bankstown City claimed back-to-back wins, doing so here could see them jump up the table.
It’s the kind of game you used to circle in the fixture list before the season. Their cup clash didn’t disappoint in 2022, so expect some fireworks in this one.
By Justin Smith