Round 25 Preview – League One Men’s
With just six weeks remaining, the run home in the FNSW League One Men’s competition continues with Round 25 action.
As such every fixture becomes important with some intriguing fixtures found around the grounds.
Let’s look ahead to the weekend’s action.
Match of the Round: SD Raiders FC v Bankstown City FC – Saturday 22 July, 7pm, Ernie Smith Reserve
SD Raiders welcome Bankstown City to Ernie Smith Reserve in our Match of the Round.
It’s been a month to forget for the Raiders, with one win and four defeats in their last five games. Six points below the top four, some of the pressure will be off them in the final six games which will hopefully lead to results.
Last week, they left themselves with too much to do against Canterbury Bankstown in the second half. They have 23 points at home this season and they’ll be looking to build on that this weekend.
Their opponents Bankstown City will be looking to add an away result to three home victories in recent times. With just three victories in their twelve games away from Jensen Park, they will be outsiders in this one, a tag they will probably embrace.
Last weekend saw captain Nikola Todoroski take centre stage with a hat-trick in their 4-nil win against Macarthur Rams, scoring three similar goals after his side made inroads in wide areas. He along with Jordan Morfitis are players to watch in this one.
It promises to be an entertaining clash which you can catch live or on demand on NPL.TV.
Central Coast United FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC – Saturday 22 July, 5pm, Pluim Park
Six points behind 15th with five rounds to go, it’s getting close to must win territory for Central Coast United as they host 2nd placed Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
The hosts had a crash back to reality last weekend with a 3-0 defeat to Hakoah FC, while Bonnyrigg White Eagles worked hard for a 1-0 victory over Blacktown Spartans at home.
It’s a tough ask but Dean Heffernan and Central Coast United will be plotting how they can make a great escape in the next six weeks. They probably would’ve taken three points from their three game away trip, now it’s time to hopefully cash in at home.
Indeed, they have four games at Pluim Park remaining this season, and it’s important they win at least three of them to ensure survival.
Not going to be easy though as Bonnyrigg White Eagles fly into town for this one. After a bit of a reality check a month ago, they have won two of their last three with a point coming in the other game as they look to challenge Hills United for the league title and automatic promotion.
Last weekend, it was just about getting the three points in a sometimes-ugly fixture with Blacktown Spartans. Radovan Pavicevic doing what he does best with a goal in the second half off the bench for the victory.
Canterbury Bankstown FC v Inter Lions FC – Saturday 22 July, 7pm, Jensen Park
Canterbury Bankstown defend their impressive home record of late when they host Inter Lions.
You have to go back to the end of May for the last time Canterbury Bankstown tasted defeat, they had a 2-0 victory over SD Raiders last weekend. While Inter Lions will come in confident after a 2-0 victory over Dulwich Hill in round 24.
Hard to beat whenever they play, Canterbury Bankstown have lost just once at home this season. As such they will be favourites for this one. And they won’t be short of confidence after an impressive performance last weekend.
Joel Beattie the star with a first half brace before holding onto to their lead in the second half under pressure.
This could well be the game of the weekend with Inter Lions returning to form last weekend. With a couple of players returning to the squad after injuries or suspension, they won comfortably by two goals.
Yes, a nice change for the coaching staff and fans alike in not leaving things to the last minute. They’ll want to continue building their form going into the Australia Cup Round of 32.
Blacktown Spartans FC v Hakoah FC; Saturday 22 July, 7pm, Blacktown Football Park
Hakoah FC will be hunting back-to-back victories when they travel west to face Blacktown Spartans away from home.
The Spartans went down narrowly to Bonnyrigg White Eagles last weekend, while Hakoah FC had a good night in putting three past Central Coast United.
Two wins in their past five games, the hosts will be hoping a return home will bring their 11th victory of the season this weekend. Last weekend they were valiant in defeat against Bonnyrigg White Eagles away from home.
However, the defeat does see them unmoved in the table sitting equal 7th alongside Inter Lions with the title of best of the rest the focus now.
Their opposition Hakoah FC are on the up with a few positive results arriving in recent times. Eight points in their last five has seen them slowly move away from the wrong end of the table.
Last weekend they triumphed over Central Coast United at home. After a competitive opening half hour, they broke away in the contest with George Tuson-Firth grabbing a brace and a debut goal for Behnam Ghamoush Ramandi.
Northern Tigers FC v Dunbar Rovers FC; Saturday 22 July, 7pm, North Turramurra Recreation Area
After a disappointing defeat last weekend, Northern Tigers will want to bounce back when they host Dunbar Rovers at North Turramurra Recreation Area.
Going down to St George by two goals in a potentially season defining clash, they’ll look to respond here. While Dunbar Rovers were able to give themselves some breathing room with a 2-1 victory over Rydalmere Lions.
Sitting seven points behind the top four, it’s going to be tough for Northern Tigers to claw themselves into promotion contention. However, they will be keen to keep the good times rolling with a victory here.
Kai Denton is still the league’s top goal scorer and there’s been enough time to settle for their acquisitions, so not a team you want to come up against.
Their opposition Dunbar Rovers gave themselves some much needed breathing room in the relegation fight. It’s unlikely that Central Coast United can catch them so it’s all about avoiding the playoff spot.
It was very much a case of getting the basics right last weekend particularly in defence. While they have enough about them going forward to challenge any opposition, top scorer Olivier Beltran-Woodward adding another goal to his tally last week.
Rydalmere Lions FC v St George FC; Saturday 22 July, 7pm, Rydalmere Park
St George FC travel west to Rydalmere Park in search of their fifth away victory of the season against the Lions.
The Saints were convincing last weekend in beating Northern Tigers 2-0, while Rydalmere were far from it, going down to Dunbar Rovers after taking the lead.
At their best, Rydalmere Lions can certainly challenge their visitors in this one. However, that’s a big if given recent form. The Lions sit in 9th position having only won one of their last five fixtures.
A club with big ambitions, they have the chance to throw a cat among the pigeons in the promotion race with a win here.
St George on the other hand are in the battle for second position at the top. Last week was a big victory for the club over Northern Tigers at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre. Playing some good football, they importantly learnt their lesson from the weekend before seeing the game out.
Jesse Spang scored two goals on the end of some fluid passing moves and they’ll want a victory here leading into a big game against Bonnyrigg in Round 26.
Dulwich Hill FC v Hills United FC; Saturday 22 July, 7pm, Arlington Oval
A hard place to visit of late, Hills United are the next side to take on Dulwich Hill at Arlington Oval in round 25 action.
Leading the competition, Luke Casserly’s side managed a narrow come from behind victory over Mounties Wanderers last weekend. While Dulwich Hill struggled against Inter Lions away from home.
A disappointing performance last weekend saw Dulwich Hill fall to a defeat against Inter Lions. They are down on first team regulars at the moment, but coach Tony Valavanis was still disappointed with his side’s output in the defeat.
They will be tough to beat in this one though with recent wins at home against Central Coast United, Northern Tigers and Bankstown City.
Is this game destined for a 2-1 scoreline? That’s how Hills United’s last three fixtures have finished after all. Last weekend in our match of the round, they scored twice in the second half to emerge victorious over Mounties Wanderers.
Sitting with a healthy seven-point lead at the top, Nicolai Muller played a key role last weekend. Muller alongside Eoin Montford and Rainer Smahel all turning back the clock in that one.
Macarthur Rams FC v Mounties Wanderers FC; Saturday 22 July, 7pm, Lynwood Park
An important match at the wrong end of the table takes place as Macarthur Rams host Mounties Wanderers at Lynwood Park.
Both sides come in rough form with Macarthur Rams losing 4-0 to Bankstown City last weekend, while Mounties Wanderers suffered a narrow defeat to Hills United.
Sitting on 27 points, Macarthur Rams have a bit of a buffer over their visitors in this one but losing this one could drag them back into the fight. Last weekend they started well against Bankstown City but faded dramatically throughout the fixture.
Taking just one point from their last four, a result here will be important to set up the final five weeks of the season.
Despite the result last weekend, Mounties Wanderers will take some confidence into this one. Sitting in the relegation playoff spot, results elsewhere meant the gap is now four points to safety. So safe to say a result is important here.
An important player to watch in this one is Shun Maeta who was a consistent danger against Hills United and there were signs of a budding combination with the new look Mounties attack.
By Justin Smith