Round Sixteen marks the start of the second half of the Football NSW League Two Men’s season, where a three-way battle for top spot will see plenty of action.
The Match of the Round this week sees the Western Rage look to continue to build on positives as they host a strong South Coast Flame FC.
Earlier, Hawkesbury City FC and Camden Tigers FC do battle in a bid to get away from the bottom of the ladder, Bankstown United FC and Sydney University SFC will have the gap between them either opened or closed, before UNSW FC look to retain top spot against a determined Parramatta FC.
Elsewhere, Gladesville Ryde Magic will look to keep up with the teams at the top as they host Inner West Hawks FC, Prospect United SC and Nepean FC will hope to maintain momentum as they clash, before Hurstville FC host the top-spot chasing Newcastle Jets.
Fraser Park FC have a bye this round.
Sunday, 21st May 2023
Match of the Round: Western Rage vs South Coast Flame FC, 7:30pm @ Rydalmere Park
Previous Meeting: South Coast Flame FC 0-0 Western Rage
The Western Rage won a second-consecutive draw, 2-2 at home to Fraser Park FC last week, while South Coast Flame FC fell 2-0 in their pursuit of the top teams at home to Parramatta FC.
When these two sides met in Round One, a resolute Rage defence held off the pressure and possession of the Flame attack as both sides settled for a 0-0 draw.
However, expect the encounter to produce goals this time around, with the Flame pursuing the top two spots for a possible promotion and the Rage looking to build on the positives to climb away from the bottom of the ladder.
The Western Rage had plenty of chances to grab victory last week and will hope to turn chances into goals moving forward.
Despite sitting 15th, their players understand the system they are playing now; they have an identity and confidence in playing, they just need to take their chances if they hope to turn draws into victories.
Their defence has also tightened lately, with a big part of that due to centre-half Michael Sada, and they had two new goal scorers last week in Jacob Carluccio and Jason Najdovski; look for the Rage to show continued improvement and fight as they look to build for the future.
Meanwhile, 4th-placed South Coast Flame FC were dominant in defeat but unable to take their chances at home to Parramatta FC, who defended well to keep the Flame out.
The issue for the Flame is finding that clinical edge on front of goal; they have all the possession and chances to win matches but need to find the back of the net.
The young squad will hope to dictate the match early by scoring the first goal, which would allow them to play to their strengths in attack; look for the Flame to come out firing early against the Rage.
With a new sense of style and belief at the Rage, facing a youthful side in the Flame hoping to be in the promotion battle towards the end of the season, look for plenty of action and adapting to game situations in an encounter which will be anything but straightforward.
Friday, 19th May 2023
Hawkesbury City FC vs Camden Tigers FC, 8pm @ David Bertenshaw Field
Previous Meeting: Camden Tigers FC 3-2 Hawkesbury City FC
Hawkesbury City FC fell 4-1 away to the high-flying Newcastle Jets last week in a tough encounter, while Camden Tigers FC could not hold their lead as they fell 4-2 away to Bankstown United FC.
When these sides clashed in Round One, a Marco Turpeinen hat-trick helped Hawkesbury to a come-from-behind victory at Ron Dine Memorial Reserve.
Hawkesbury City FC will hope to rise a few spots from 14th on the ladder as they play at home for the first time in three weeks.
The Hawks have lost their last two matches against the Tigers and will hope to turn that stat around as they look to build on the positives.
Look for the likes of Marco Turpeinen and Harry Drew to fire at home to get Hawkesbury some revenge from their opening round defeat.
Sitting 12th, Camden Tigers FC are looking to turn their season around following a rough patch of form; they have lost their last five matches, where they have conceded 17 goals and scored only six themselves.
They still boast the equal-second most goals scored in the league, but they will need to stop fundamental mistakes across the pitch in hopes to tighten up at the back and convert more chances going forward.
With two teams on 12 points and two on 13 points at the halfway point, all five or six points respectively ahead of the last-placed Western Rage, a result would be crucial for the Tigers moving forward.
Neither side will want to finish second from bottom come season’s end and the outcome of this match will help aid in either side’s quest.
Bankstown United FC vs Sydney University SFC, 8pm @ Padstow Park
Previous Meeting: Sydney University SFC 4-1 Bankstown United FC
Bankstown United FC won a second match in three after they came from behind to defeat Camden Tigers FC 4-2 last week, while Sydney University SFC fell to a third loss in four after their 3-1 home defeat to Nepean FC.
The students overcame Bankstown United FC 4-1 when these sides faced off in the first Match of the Round of the season, where the battle in midfield was particularly important.
Finding a clinical edge in front of goal will be vital for both teams, where Bankstown will hope to control possession again and convert chances and University will hope to do the same.
Bankstown United FC had their hat-trick hero in Mitchell Cross to thank in their win over the Tigers last week and will look to build momentum going forward.
Bankstown have two of the competitions top five goal scorers in Mitchell Cross, on nine, and Marie Gauthier, on eight; they will hope their firepower going forward will propel them to more victories in the coming weeks in a change of fortune.
Sitting 10th, their speed and ability to score from crosses, as well as their ability to get to loose balls first in dangerous areas, could put them in good stead this week and going forward this season.
Sydney University SFC, meanwhile, will be hoping to start strongly after they conceded two goals in the opening ten minutes against Nepean last week.
However, they have picked up more points away from home this season than at home, with two of their three wins for the season coming away from home.
Sitting 11th, a loss could see them rooted deeper in the bottom five; they will hope to close the ground to the teams above them instead.
A win for Bankstown could move them seven points clear of the five teams below them and potentially move them into 9th, while a win for University would close the gap between the two sides to one point; this clash could have big ramifications on the final standings and team’s positions moving forward.
Saturday, 20th May 2023
UNSW FC vs Parramatta FC, 5pm @ The Village Green
Previous Meeting: Parramatta FC 0-3 UNSW FC
It was not UNSW FC’s night last week as they failed to take their chances in a 1-1 away draw to Hurstville FC, while Parramatta FC held strong for a 2-0 away victory over South Coast Flame FC.
UNSW FC started the season as they meant to go on in Round One with a dominant 3-0 away victory over Parramatta FC, who have found some wins themselves lately.
The hosts will hope to put a frustrating draw behind them as they look to maintain and extend their position in first place on the ladder.
A combination of misses, wrong decisions and good saves from their opponent kept UNSW from scoring more than one goal; they will work hard to rectify those issues this week.
Not only is the team top of the table, but so is their sharpshooter, Kevin Lopes, in the race for the top goal scorer gong; look for him to be a real threat as UNSW look to ward off the likes of Nepean FC and the Newcastle Jets.
Parramatta FC, meanwhile, were forced into a late change last week and adapted to positive effect as they neutralised and overcame South Coast Flame FC away.
Sitting 9th, they will look to soak up the pressure away from home to hit on the break again, but whether they change formation will remain to be seen.
Look for Parramatta to snag an early goal if they can; if not, defence will be the focus as they look to hurt UNSW FC in any way they can to climb towards the teams in the top half of the table.
With plenty at stake for UNSW FC, look for them to try to be at their ruthless best, while Parramatta FC will hope to continue their hard work and efforts in search of another ladder-changing victory.
Gladesville Ryde Magic vs Inner West Hawks FC, 7pm @ Christie Park
Previous Meeting: Inner West Hawks FC 1-2 Gladesville Ryde Magic
Gladesville Ryde Magic return from the bye ready to continue their challenge near the top of the ladder, while Inner West Hawks FC fell 4-2 at home to Prospect United SC last week.
The Magic have won the last five encounters against the Hawks, including their 2-1 victory away from home earlier this season, and will hope to make that six this week at home.
The Magic will hope to get back to their defensive best following the bye, with results dropping off in the past few weeks.
The young side will look to continue their charge at a top two spot, if possible, with a belief in the young players in their team.
With a week off and a strong head-to-head record against the Hawks, look for the Magic to reset and go again as they charge towards the top.
Meanwhile, Inner West Hawks FC will hope to tighten up defensively after they shipped four goals at home to Prospect United SC last week.
Their top goal scorer, Hesan Soufi, moved up to equal-third on the season’s goal scorers list with eight for the season; he will continue to be the main threat in attack for the Hawks.
The Hawks know how to carve out chances in a match; if they can hold strong defensively, they can work their way to a big win over the Magic this week to rise away from the teams at the bottom of the ladder.
With a rested Magic side chasing the teams at the top hosting a battle-hardened Hawks side with plenty to give, expect there to be no shortage of goals as both sides chase success.
Prospect United SC vs Nepean FC, 7pm @ William Lawson Park
Previous Meeting: Nepean FC 1-0 Prospect United SC
Prospect United SC moved to six matches unbeaten, including five wins, after their 4-2 victory away over Inner West Hawks FC last week, while Nepean’s resurgence continued with a 3-1 win away over Sydney University SFC, their third win from four matches.
Nepean FC got the better of Prospect United SC when they clashed in Round One earlier this season, where a 79th minute Leonard Abdo goal was the difference in the first match of the season.
There were plenty of chances in the opening match of the season but only one goal from a set piece; expect there to be goals this time, however.
Prospect currently sit in sixth place given their strong recent form and they will look to potentially climb up to fourth with victory and if other results go their way.
The hosts are firing, with a combination of clean sheets and high goal showings propelling them up the ladder in recent times.
Houssam Sayour has become the man to watch for Prospect in an attack which has started to gel and fire lately.
However, they face a tough prospect in Nepean FC this week, who will be a test for Prospect to see how far up the ladder they can continue to climb.
Nepean will hope to make a return to the top of the table for the first time in a while with victory, which should provide plenty of motivation for the side moving forward.
They will hope to welcome some players back this week following their absence through sickness last week as their depth is tested.
With another quick start, potentially through their main man in attack Leonard Abdo, they could disrupt the hosts and be on their way to another victory.
A potential fourth place to end the weekend is on the line for Prospect United SC, while top spot is what Nepean FC are chasing; expect there to be plenty of action in this clash as the two sides chase their own goals.
Sunday, 21st May 2023
Hurstville FC vs Newcastle Jets, 7pm @ Penshurst Park
Previous Meeting: Newcastle Jets 4-0 Hurstville FC
Hurstville FC came away with a 1-1 draw at home to ladder-leaders UNSW FC last week, while the Newcastle Jets claimed a strong 4-1 victory at home to Hawkesbury City FC last week to continue their promotion charge.
Expect this to be a different encounter to when these two sides met in Round One this season, where the Jets came away with a strong 4-0 victory.
The fortunes of Hurstville have changed recently, and they will be more confident of picking up a result at home against a Jets side which will look to fire back up towards top spot.
Hurstville showed plenty of positive signs and play in their draw last week and will hope to take their chances when they come at home again against another top three side.
Look for Hurstville to take it to the Jets’ midfielders in a real battle in the middle of the park, which could prove crucial for the outcome of the match.
If Hurstville can be strong defensively and play with intensity and desire to win the ball and force errors, they could pick up a victory which could move them from eighth and up a few places on the ladder.
The Newcastle Jets, meanwhile, won their first match in three and moved up to second on the ladder, one point behind ladder-leaders UNSW FC.
Heading into the second half of the season, they have scored 34 goals, the most in the competition and seven more than any other, and conceded only 14, the least in the competition.
With plenty of motivation and a young squad who will be hopeful of challenging for promotion, look for the Jets to put in another powerful performance away from home in the hopes of success this week.
A win for either side is crucial; the top half race to stay in with a chance of promotion is at stake for Hurstville, while the race for the top two and chances of promotion is getting heated for the Jets; neither side will stop at anything for victory.
By Football New South Wales League Two Men’s Writer, Dylan Costa @_dylancosta