Round 23 Preview – League Two Men’s
Round Twenty-Three of the Football New South Wales League Two Men’s season will see the battle for crucial points continue as the battle for the top two continues to be tight.
The Match of the Round this week sees Nepean FC look to climb into 2nd spot on the ladder at home to Inner West Hawks FC, who are unbeaten in six weeks.
Elsewhere, Hawkesbury City FC look for a third-straight win as they host the top-half Fraser Park FC, before Parramatta FC look to end their losing streak at home to Sydney University SFC, while UNSW FC look to extend their lead at the top of the ladder at home to Prospect United SC.
Meanwhile, a crucial 5th vs 4th battle sees Bankstown United FC host Gladesville Ryde Magic, while Camden Tigers FC look for a third win in five matches at home to South Coast Flame FC, before the Newcastle Jets look to close the gap at the top at home to the Western Rage.
Hurstville FC have a bye this round.
Friday, 7th Jule 2023
Match of the Round: Nepean FC vs Inner West Hawks FC, 8pm @ Wanderers Football Park
Previous Meeting: Inner West Hawks FC 2-1 Nepean FC
Nepean FC went six matches unbeaten but will be disappointed after they conceded twice late to draw 2-2 away to Gladesville Ryde Magic last week, while Inner West Hawks FC held on late with ten men in their 1-1 home draw to Camden Tigers FC in last week’s Match of the Round.
The Hawks defended well in the second half the last time these two sides met as the Hawks beat the then-ladder-leaders 2-1 in Round Eight earlier this season; they will be hopeful of a league double to really shake up the battle for the top two.
3rd-placed Nepean FC conceded two late goals to a ten-man Magic last week and will be disappointed with that draw given the circumstances.
They could have leapfrogged the Newcastle Jets into 2nd place and will hope they will be able to make amends with an impressive performance this weekend with a few additions to their squad, such as former Macarthur Rams player, Kye Soares.
If they can limit mistakes at the back and remain composed in front of goal with the likes of new signing, former Marconi Stallion and Australia Under-17 international Lachlan Sepping getting amongst the goals, they will be hopeful of moving to seven matches unbeaten.
12th-placed Inner West Hawks FC are also on a six-match unbeaten streak after their 1-1 draw against Camden Tigers FC in last week’s Match of the Round and will be hopeful of another robust performance this week.
They have given up their 1-0 lead to draw in two of their last three matches but will look to the positives given the team’s strong defence in the second round of matches so far this season.
They have lost some players during the transfer window, including Matthew Paras, Andre Guzman and Emmanuel Koumis but have brought in Keysar Ahmed Abdi and former Sydney University SFC Under-20’s player Aryan Arzani and will promote from within to find a youthful edge which will help further develop their players.
With a promotion charge on the line, Nepean have all the motivation they need while the Hawks will hope to continue building their playing philosophy to go on; look for a tough battle with plenty of grit to be on display.
Hawkesbury City FC vs Fraser Park FC, 8pm @ David Bertenshaw Field
Previous Meeting: Fraser Park FC 2-1 Hawkesbury City FC
Hawkesbury City FC continued their resurgence after a strong 4-2 away win over Hurstville FC last week, while Fraser Park FC were given a clinical lesson at home to ladder-leaders UNSW FC in a 4-0 defeat.
Fraser Park came away with the three points in a tough Round Eight encounter and will hope to show the same grit to complete the league double this week.
13th-placed Hawkesbury City FC scored from a free kick, a counterattack and from good pressing in their win last week and will hope to build on back-to-back wins.
The Hawks lost their top goal scorer in Marco Turpeinen to Prospect United SC during the transfer window, while Prospect also picked up Predrag Bojic from the Hawks, while Kai McLoughlin returned to the USA.
With Taj Chapman joining from League One side Canterbury Bankstown FC’s Under-20’s setup, the Hawks will look to continue their strong form as they look to end the season as high as they can.
7th-placed Fraser Park FC will hope to brush off last week’s result and build some positive momentum as they chase the teams at the top.
They made a few signings during the window, including Jakub Buris from Arncliffe Aurora FC and Adam Khalaf from Macquarie Dragons FC; with their toughest task of the season behind them, they will hope they can bounce back quickly against a team who is determined to fight hard.
They also have a game in hand as their Round 21 match at away against Prospect United SC was postponed until Tuesday, 11th July at 8pm, meaning their spot on the table could improve dramatically over the next week if they can pick up wins.
A win could move Fraser Park into 5th, while for the Hawks it could move them up one spot into 12th and put a five-point gap on last place; plenty of players will look to impress.
Saturday, 8th July 2023
Parramatta FC vs Sydney University SFC, 5pm @ Melita Stadium
Previous Meeting: Sydney University SFC 1-2 Parramatta FC
Parramatta FC fell to a sixth-straight loss after a 2-0 defeat at home to the Western Rage last week in the Western Sydney derby, while Sydney University SFC moved to six matches unbeaten after their strong 2-1 home win over Prospect United SC.
Parramatta came from a goal down in their 2-1 win over Uni in Round Eight’s Match of the Round and will hope to find that grit and determination to push them to an important victory this week.
14th-placed Parramatta FC have lost every match since their last win in Round 15 and will hope to stop their slide down the ladder, where a loss this week could drop them to last place.
They were 9th following their last win over South Coast Flame FC in Round 15’s Match of the Round and will need to find the same fighting spirit they showed on that occasion if they are to do the league double over Uni.
Defence must be their priority if they are to build towards a victory and stop their local rivals in the Western Rage overtaking them in the battle to avoid last place.
11th-placed Sydney University SFC have started to turn their strong performances into wins the past few weeks and will hope to build on back-to-back victories with a third in a row for the first time this season.
With their new reinforcements having a few weeks of playing time in them, the squad will look to continue their good form as they build for a strong finish to the season.
A win could move them up into the top ten for the first time since Round 12 and potentially close the gap to the top half to just two points; they are a side to watch moving forward.
With one team out of form and one team in form, will that be a guide to the outcome of this match or will the fight of the two sides determine the match?
UNSW FC vs Prospect United SC, 7pm @ The Village Green
Previous Meeting: Prospect United SC 0-1 UNSW FC
UNSW FC ended a three-match winless streak and were back to their clinical best in a 4-0 away win over Fraser Park FC last week, while Prospect United SC fell to back-to-back defeats for the first time since Round Four after their loss away to Sydney University SFC.
UNSW picked up the three points away from home in a tough and rainy Round Eight encounter; this match promises to deliver more enterprising football than on that occasion.
League-leading UNSW FC built a five-point gap at the top of the table over the Newcastle Jets following their win last week, albeit the Jets have a match in hand.
Kevin Lopes picked up a double in the students’ last match as he remained joint-top goal scorer for the season with 17 goals; look out for his overall play to have another impact on this season.
With captain Luke Burke and his defensive partner Peter Prandalos putting in strong defensive performances, as well as new signings Jack McLoughlin and Emilio Vinci looking to make an impact towards a title charge, expect UNSW to be a tough prospect for the away side this week.
6th-placed Prospect United SC will hope to respond to tough back-to-back defeats as they look to maintain their charge for a top-two finish with eight weeks to go.
If they can capitalise on their dominant periods against UNSW, put their chances away and erase defensive errors at the back, they will be hopeful of maintaining a charge to the finish line.
They also have a game in hand as their Round 21 match at home against Fraser Park FC was postponed until Tuesday, 11th July at 8pm, meaning their spot on the table could improve dramatically over the next week if they can pick up wins.
This matchup promises to produce quality across the park and with plenty to play for in both title and promotion charges; UNSW will be clinical while Prospect will push for an important victory.
Bankstown United FC vs Gladesville Ryde Magic, 7pm @ Padstow Park
Previous Meeting: Gladesville Ryde Magic 4-3 Bankstown United FC
Bankstown United FC picked up a fourth win from their past five matches after a come-from-behind away win over South Coast Flame FC last week, while Gladesville Ryde Magic scored two stoppage time goals while down to ten men in their dramatic 2-2 draw at home to Nepean FC last week.
The Magic produced a strong win over Bankstown to claim the Stroke Recovery Cup in their Round Eight matchup and would love to complete the league double as they chase the top two.
5th-placed Bankstown United FC has shot up the table from 9th in Round Seventeen and find themselves among the group chasing the top two; with two goals from Mitchell Cross last week, he is now the joint-leading league scorer for the season with 17 goals, alongside UNSW’s Kevin Lopes.
Dominic Rozario left the club during the transfer window, Rai Coletta went to League One side Mounties Wanderers and Sunny Chang went to League One’s Dunbar Rovers; however, they have signed reinforcements in Matthew Paras from Inner West Hawks FC who rejoined the club alongside Hayden Battistel and a few squad players.
Bankstown have a host of outs with Corey Freeman out injured for a few weeks, Mitchell Edmunds overseas for four to five weeks, Amarie Gauthier injured, Steven Wright out for the next two to three weeks; their squad depth will be tested against a side they have not beaten in five years in the Magic.
4th-placed Gladesville Ryde Magic showed resilience in their draw last week and will hope to take the lead first against Bankstown this week, which they will hope to use to control the match.
Their style of football has troubled Bankstown in the past and they have become a bogey club for the hosts; look for them to come out firing to continue that trend.
With speed up top in David Ustimenko and a young defence that is determined to fight until the last minute, expect the Magic to stop at nothing in their pursuit of victory.
A genuine clash for promotion will see the best be brought out of both sides; expect there to be plenty of fight where one moment of class and composure could decide the outcome.
Camden Tigers FC vs South Coast Flame FC, 7pm @ Ron Dine Memorial Reserve – Carbiz Stadium
Previous Meeting: South Coast Flame FC 3-1 Camden Tigers FC
Camden Tigers FC showed a moment of magic in their 1-1 draw away to Inner West Hawks FC in last week’s Match of the Round, while South Coast Flame FC fell to ten matches without a win after their 4-2 loss at home to Bankstown United FC last week.
The Flame scorched the Tigers in their Round Eight matchup as a late Adam Voloder goal ended Camden’s hopes of a comeback; the Flame were 3-1 winners on that occasion and will hope to use that memory as motivation for a win this week.
10th-placed Camden Tigers FC have shown plenty of good signs in the past month and will be hopeful their style of play will help them towards a victory this week which could move them up into 8th.
They will play positive football and utilise good ball speed once again this week in a complete 90-minute performance, which would be pleasing for the club.
If they can carry on their momentum from how they played last week, they will be a tough opponent for the Flame to handle.
8th-placed South Coast Flame FC were blown away by Bankstown United FC in the first half last week and will hope to put in a resilient showing early against the Tigers this weekend.
With a strong win over the Tigers earlier this season, the squad will have to use those memories to build them up, while they will have to use the disappointment of another loss last week to fuel them forward.
If they can start with a strong defensive base this week, that will go a long way to helping them secure victory.
With the Tigers clawing at the teams above them and the Flame looking to end their winless run, look for both teams to start with intent; an early lead could be crucial in this match.
Sunday, 9th July 2023
Newcastle Jets vs Western Rage, 3pm @ Magic Park
Previous Meeting: Western Rage 0-1 Newcastle Jets
The Newcastle Jets will be refreshed and ready to power towards promotion after their bye last week, while the Western Rage won a critical match at the bottom of the table in a 2-0 win over Parramatta FC in the Western Sydney derby.
The Jets got the better of the Rage in their Round Eight matchup; a lone goal from Ben Van Dorssen in second-half stoppage time led them to a last-gasp 1-0 victory away from home.
The 2nd-placed Newcastle Jets will hope to build on their strong home win over Gladesville Ryde Magic from before their bye, which ended a run of three matches without a win.
The Jets will be playing at a different home venue this week in Magic Park, the home of NPL Northern NSW side Broadmeadow Magic FC; Newcastle will hope they can produce some magic this week to potentially close the gap to UNSW at the top to two points.
With the likes of Nepean FC, Gladesville Ryde Magic, Bankstown United FC, and Prospect United SC all within reach in the pursuit of 2nd place, look for the Jets to fight to continue their charge for promotion.
The last-placed Western Rage will be buoyed by a second win in four weeks after their win in the derby last weekend and will be hopeful of rising as many as two places on the ladder with a surprise victory this week.
The Rage lost Oscar Gonzalez and Jye Murray during the transfer window, but with new signings Bright Owusu from Inner West Hawks FC and Nikita Andricopoulos from Hurstville FC both starting in their win last week, look for the Rage to continue to improve.
Pride, performance, and proven fight will be on display for the Rage as they look to take down the Jets and shake up the battle for promotion at the top.
The battle for promotion and the battle to move away from last may seem like it would provide a predictable winner but if this season is anything to go by, anything can happen; look for the Jets to fire forward and for the Rage to fire up.
By Football New South Wales League Two Men’s Writer, Dylan Costa @_dylancosta