Round 18 Preview – League Two Men’s


Round Eighteen of the 2023 Football New South Wales League Two Men’s season could see a genuine breakaway in the table as the top two look to push on.

The Match of the Round this week sees one team looking to stay with the top two clubs in Nepean FC travel to face Hawkesbury City FC in front of an expected large crowd.

Elsewhere, Bankstown United FC welcome the rampant second-placed Newcastle Jets, before Parramatta FC and Prospect United SC do battle in a crucial clash for the visitors, followed by the ladder-leaders UNSW FC who will welcome Camden Tigers FC.

Meanwhile, Hurstville FC will look to end a three-match winless run as they welcome last-start winners Inner West Hawks FC, while the following day will see Fraser Park FC and South Coast Flame FC both look to end winless streaks, before the Western Rage look to go four matches unbeaten as they host the top-two chasing Gladesville Ryde Magic.

Sydney University SFC have a bye this round.


Friday, 2nd June 2023

Match of the Round: Hawkesbury City FC vs Nepean FC, 8pm @ David Bertenshaw Field

Previous Meeting: Nepean FC 4-2 Hawkesbury City FC

Hawkesbury City FC were driven away following a tough period in the second half in their home loss to UNSW FC last week, while Nepean FC were held in a tough scoreless draw at home to Hurstville FC.

These two sides last met in Round Three’s Match of the Round, where Nepean held off a Hawks comeback twice as they took out a 4-2 home victory.

Look for Hawkesbury to have strong periods in the match and look to capitalise early against a strong Nepean outfit in front of an expected large crowd, which these two sides tend to bring.

14th-placed Hawkesbury City FC will enjoy their third of five-straight matches at home this week but will hope their fortunes results-wise can come with it.

They had strong periods throughout against the Newcastle Jets last week and will hope to take the experiences of facing the top two teams in the competition in the Jets and UNSW in the space of three weeks as a means of improvement.

If they can stick to their structures and continue to work hard on and off the ball, they could be more than a match for Nepean FC this week as they look to avoid dropping to last place.

4th-placed Nepean FC, meanwhile, will hope to control possession when they can away from home and dominate in midfield against the Hawks.

The clean sheet would have been pleasing for Nepean but following back-to-back weeks with no goals scored, they will hope to utilise their pace in attack to score.

A win could move Nepean into 3rd on the ladder and keep their pursuit of the top two on track; it is crucial they turn their results around soon.

With plenty of motivation for both sides heading into the contest, there will be no shortage of sound from the stands with large support at both ends; this contest could serve up anything.


Bankstown United FC vs Newcastle Jets, 8pm @ Padstow Park

Previous Meeting: Newcastle Jets 1-1 Bankstown United FC

Bankstown United FC were unable to find a goal as they fought hard late in their loss to Inner West Hawks FC last week, while the Newcastle Jets kept the pressure on UNSW FC at the top of the table following their home victory over Parramatta FC.

9th-placed Bankstown proved to be a tough opponent for the Jets when they met in Round Three, where a late Bankstown goal almost led to another and the winner late in a 1-1 draw.

The hosts will hope to have their tactics set up correctly this week as they will need to be sound in defence and have a plan to launch in attack against the Jets.

The league’s second-top goal scorer with eleven goals, Mitchell Cross, will hope to be the launchpad for success for Bankstown.

Look for Cross to pop up to aid Bankstown whenever he can, along with his teammates in attack.

The 2nd-placed Newcastle Jets, meanwhile, will hope for a fourth-straight victory as they look to go five matches unbeaten this week, where a win could move them up to first place.

The Jets have scored more goals than anyone this season with 43, while they have conceded the least goals with seventeen; however, they are without a clean sheet from their last four matches.

Look for the Jets to control possession, create space in midfield and utilise their quality, particularly with close-control dribbling, across the park while they look to maintain a clean sheet.

Bankstown will look to chase the top half of the table, while the Jets will chase top spot; expect a match with plenty of chances where quality and fight will be on show.


Saturday, 3rd June 2023

Parramatta FC vs Prospect United SC, 5pm @ Melita Stadium

Previous Meeting: Prospect United SC 2-0 Parramatta FC

Parramatta FC fought late but were unable to mount a comeback in their away defeat to the Newcastle Jets last week, while Prospect United SC went an eighth match unbeaten following their come-from-behind draw away to South Coast Flame FC.

Prospect were victors in their Round Three matchup and will hope to build on their strong form lately to claim another win.

The sides currently sit nine points apart on the table heading into this clash.

10th-placed Parramatta FC fell to a third loss in four matches following their defeat away to the Jets and will look for victory to stay in touch with the teams just above them on the table.

Youssef Badr stepped up and scored his eighth goal of the season last week; look for him to continue to be a threat.

With nothing to lose and plenty of fight left to give, the attitude of the Parramatta players could decide this match.

5th-placed Prospect United SC’s eight-match unbeaten streak, which includes six wins, continued following a late equaliser against the Flame last week and they will be hopeful of extending the streak to nine matches this week.

They will hope to find a clinical edge against the Parramatta defence this week following the shots they had saved by the Flame last week.

Look for them to apply pressure to Parramatta in their pursuit of victory; if they can win the ball high up the field, they could punish Parramatta and potentially move as high as 3rd on the ladder.

With Parramatta facing inconsistencies and Prospect pushing towards the upper reaches of the table, expect a spirited performance from the hosts as the visitors look to be clinical in their pursuit of victory.


UNSW FC vs Camden Tigers FC, 7pm @ The Village Green

Previous Meeting: Camden Tigers FC 1-3 UNSW FC

UNSW FC continued their automatic promotion charge with a strong victory away over Hawkesbury City FC in last week’s Match of the Round, while Camden Tigers FC earned a draw late with Sydney University SFC at home.

There was plenty of action the last time these sides met in Round Three with four first-half goals, before UNSW goal scorer Kevin Lopes and Tigers’ goalkeeper Evan Martin were both sent off in the 49th minute following a challenge for a header; UNSW pushed on with a 3-1 win.

Camden will look to press well and utilise the possessions they get, while UNSW will look to hold the ball and create chances with their movement.

1st-placed UNSW FC are flying high; five matches unbeaten, including four wins, as they maintained their one-point lead at the top of the table over the Newcastle Jets.

When UNSW shift gears in the match, they can be exceedingly difficult to stop and are able to put away chances with no mercy when they turn the heat up.

Their and the league’s top goal scorer with 13 goals, Kevin Lopes, has been instrumental in that; he scored another last week but his work ethic in running when in defence and attack is his real highlight – the goals are a just reward for the striker’s efforts across the pitch.

11th-placed Camden Tigers FC will look to neutralise Lopes and the rest of the UNSW squad; they have had a turn in fortune recently with a win and a draw following five-straight losses prior.

Their preparations will step up another level as they prepare to face one of the benchmarks in the competition in UNSW; they will trust their gameplan, but the flow of the match will be different to last week.

They have a plan to finish as high up the table as possible and there is no better way to test themselves than against the league leaders; victory could move them to 9th this week.

UNSW are looking to hold off the Newcastle Jets and maintain top spot, while the Tigers are looking to earn a second win in three matches and go a third unbeaten as their form shifts; expect a strong UNSW to be clinical while a fighting Tigers side look to cause an upset.


Hurstville FC vs Inner West Hawks FC, 7pm @ Penshurst Park

Previous Meeting: Inner West Hawks FC 1-1 Hurstville FC

Hurstville FC were unable to break down Nepean FC in a tough and physical scoreless draw last week, while Inner West Hawks FC held strong defensively in their victory at home to Bankstown United FC.

An 89th minute Andre Guzman goal rescued a point for the Hawks on their home turf the first time out against Hurstville this season in a 1-1 draw.

Look for both sides to want to grab victory in pursuit of their own goals this week.

7th-placed Hurstville FC are winless in their last three matches and know they must start picking up results soon to stay with the top six.

Following a tough run of fixtures, where they have played 1st, 2nd, and 4th, respectively, they have picked up two points from those fixtures and will hope to push on from here.

With three clean sheets from their past five matches, they will hope to be back at their best this week and will push on in the hopes of victory back at home for a fifth match in six weeks.

The 12th-placed Hawks grabbed their first clean sheet in four matches, as well as their first win in four, after their win last week and will be hopeful of a result against a strong Hurstville outfit.

Look for them to utilise their pace up front on the counter away from home as they look to catch Hurstville out on the break, with their strong midfield able to set up chances for their forwards.

With a threat from set pieces also, if they can be clinical with their chances the Hawks could grab a victory which could elevate them up to 9th on the table.

With a divide forming between the top and bottom half of the table, a winner each way in this match could go a long way in determining just how large that gap could become.


Sunday, 4th June 2023

Fraser Park FC vs South Coast Flame FC, 5pm @ Fraser Park

Previous Meeting: South Coast Flame FC 2-1 Fraser Park FC

Fraser Park FC fell to a fifth-straight match without a win last week following their away loss to Gladesville Ryde Magic, while South Coast Flame FC moved to six matches without a win following their home draw with Prospect United SC.

A 75th minute Adam Voloder goal was the difference the last time these sides met in Round Three as the Flame kept the three points at home.

With both sides in unwanted poor form, they will want to fight for a result this week.

8th-placed Fraser Park FC will hope for a turn in fortunes soon after their third loss from five matches last week.

The week off following the bye yielded their worst defeat of the season so far and they will hope to tighten up at the back, especially from set pieces, in hopes of victory this week.

Following two away trips, Fraser Park will be glad to be back at home; look for defence to be their focus this week as they look to push back up to 7th on the table.

6th-placed South Coast Flame FC, meanwhile, were leading against Prospect until the 75th minute last week in their draw and will hope to maintain a lead if they can get it this week.

Their six-match winless run has included three losses and has pushed them down the table from their 3rd-place position before this period to their current place in 6th.

Despite that, a win with other results going their way could push them back up to 3rd place; they have the quality with the likes of Adam Voloder, they just need to find something within for victory away this week.

With two sides struggling, a winner emerging from this contest could prove vital for both sides seasons as they look to continue their fight in the top half of the table.


Western Rage vs Gladesville Ryde Magic, 7pm @ Rydalmere Park

Previous Meeting: Gladesville Ryde Magic 2-1 Western Rage

The Western Rage will be rested from their bye last week and will look to continue their three-match unbeaten run, while Gladesville Ryde Magic will hope to push on following a dominant victory over Fraser Park FC last week.

The Magic will hope to do the league double over the Rage after their victory over the hosts in Round Three; Chris Gaitatzis has continued his form from that match and sits on nine goals for the season as the Magic’s top goal scorer.

However, look for this encounter to throw up a completely different battle to what was seen in that early round.

The 15th-placed Western Rage will have confidence following their win over the Flame prior to their bye and will have a clear gameplan set out for victory.

They have hard runners across the pitch and with nothing to lose, they will give their all in pursuit of victory.

The Rage will start this match with high intensity; if they can grab an early goal, they will be confident of their stamina to help them see out another win, which could move them off the bottom of the ladder for the first time since Round Five.

The 3rd-placed Gladesville Ryde Magic will have their sights set on another strong victory, this time away from home.

A loss could be damaging for the Magic; it could drop them as low as 6th place if other results go against them; it is critical they start to pick up more victories.

The team has scored thirteen goals combined from their last five matches; look for them to continue to be dangerous up front as they look to chase the top two and avoid falling.

The Rage are chasing progress while the Magic are chasing promotion; expect to see the Rage utilise their gameplan to favourable effect as they chase another victory and the Magic to potentially close the gap to second place to three points.

By Football New South Wales League Two Men’s Writer, Dylan Costa @_dylancosta