Round 27 Preview – League Two Men’s
The title race is going down to the wire – Round 27 of the 2023 Football New South Wales League Two Men’s season will see two of the top three in action, where once again, any slip-ups will be capitalised on.
Sunday, 6th August 2023
Match of the Round: Newcastle Jets vs Sydney University SFC, 5pm at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility
Previous Meeting: Sydney University SFC 0-2 Newcastle Jets
The Match of the Round this week sees the Newcastle Jets looking to capitalise on their match in hand over the top two as they host Sydney University SFC and chase the league double.
The last time these two sides met, a goal in the final minutes of the first and second halves from Xavier Bertoncello and James Khoury, respectively, helped the Jets to a 2-0 win away from home; they will hope to double the dose in their charge for promotion.
The third-placed Newcastle Jets scored three goals for the fourth game from their past six as they overcame Inner West Hawks FC 3-0 last week and will hope to return home to pick up a crucial three points this week.
The Jets currently have 47 points, six points behind league-leaders UNSW FC and just one point behind Nepean FC, who have their bye this week; with UNSW’S bye next week, the end of the season will be the perfect time for the Jets to capitalise.
Their maximum points tally is 59 points, while Nepean’s is 57 and UNSW’S is 62 – they need to win this week to keep the pressure on the top two as one slip-up could cost them a top-two spot altogether.
Twelfth-placed Sydney University SFC has the bye last week and face the Jets following their 2-0 loss to UNSW FC in Round 25’s Match of the Round.
Injuries and illness have plagued their squad and they have had good play this season until the final third, where that clinical edge has been missing.
They have a strong foundation and are very organised across attack and defence – expect them to cause more than a few issues for the Jets as they look to shake up the promotion race and potentially move up a spot into 12tg.
These two young squads will have plenty to fight for and prove, whether that’s for this season or the next; expect plenty of running, chances and potentially goals.
Friday, 4th August 2023
Hawkesbury City FC vs Inner West Hawks FC, 8pm at David Bertenshaw Field
Previous Meeting: Inner West Hawks FC 4-1 Hawkesbury City FC
Hawkesbury City FC host Inner West Hawks FC in a Friday night ‘Battle of the Hawks’, where the two teams in contrasting form battle in the reverse fixture from Round 12’s Match of the Round.
In that matchup, Inner West came from behind and came away strong 4-1 winners; expect this clash to provide just as much entertainment.
Tenth-placed Hawkesbury City FC are the form team of the competition – five wins in a row and six matches unbeaten, they are ready to continue their fight as they look to build for next season.
They have won three of their past five matches by a 2-1 scoreline and have found form across the pitch, with multiple different players contributing to their goals lately.
They will look to make amends for their defeat last time out to Inner West and ensure they give themselves a strong push to an unlikely finish in the top-half of the ladder, which is still possible if results go their way.
Last-placed Inner West Hawks FC fell 3-0 at home to the Newcastle Jets last week and are in their roughest form of the season – four defeats in a row and no wins from their past eight matches has seen them fall down the ladder.
One of their main threats in attack, Peter Yannopoulos, got injured last week and is unlikely to take the field this week; the Hawks will have to find another way to play out of their defence without his control and speed up front.
It will be a tough assignment for Inner West, who will hope they can finish the season strongly, avoid last-place and build a foundation.
With arguably the league’s most in-form and out-of-form sides facing off, will head-to-head this season prevail or will the form guide prove true?
Saturday, 5th August 2023
Parramatta FC vs Gladesville Ryde Magic, 5pm at Melita Stadium
Previous Meeting: Gladesville Ryde Magic 2-1 Parramatta FC
Parramatta FC could be the biggest spoilers of the season as they host Gladesville Ryde Magic this week, who are chasing the top two.
The last time these two sides met, two goals in the final 20 minutes helped the Magic come from a goal down at Christie Park as they continued their strong first half of the season; they will hope to repeat the dose as their top-two hopes hang in the balance.
13th-placed Parramatta FC fell 4-1 to their western Sydney neighbours, Nepean FC, away last week and will hope for a stronger showing against another contender at the top of the league.
They showed plenty of fight last week, fighting right into the 90th minute as they pulled a goal back late, but their composure let them down in the end as they conceded two more goals in stoppage time.
Parramatta have shown glimpses of what they are capable of and will hope to channel their two wins from three and four weeks ago to inspire them to a win which could move them up two spots into 11th.
4th-placed Gladesville Ryde Magic have their season on the tipping point – a loss this week could end their hopes of a top two finish if both Nepean FC and the Newcastle Jets record victories.
They will remain hopeful of any slip-ups at the top and have plenty of quality across the pitch to carry them towards more success – look for their dynamic forward line to create plenty of problems for Parramatta, while their midfield will hope to play smart to set up for success.
With ten goals from their past three matches, the Magic are firing and will be hopeful of potentially keeping their top-two hopes in tact for one more week, but they will be proud of their season regardless.
Expect plenty of goals in this match, where nerve late in the contest could prove the difference.
UNSW FC vs South Coast Flame FC, 5pm at The Village Green
Previous Meeting: South Coast Flame FC 2-3 UNSW FC
The league-leaders, UNSW FC, will hope to maintain or extend their five-point lead at the top of the league as they host a side buzzing off their first win in fourteen matches in South Coast Flame FC.
UNSW took the lead, fell behind and then scored a stoppage-time winner in their 3-2 away win over the Flame in Round 12; this time around, this clash should provide just as much entertainment.
UNSW FC are firing in first place and know the title battle could come down to the last match of the season if Nepean FC and the Newcastle Jets continue to pick up results; they are a maximum of seven points away from the title with three matches to play.
The hosts are in red-hot form in front of goal, with 17 goals from their past five matches, and will more than ready to tackle the renewed belief from the Flame this week.
With their bye next week, UNSW will hope to have the maximum advantage they can heading into their week off, where their lead at the top could be eight points come next week.
8th-placed South Coast Flame FC finally had a reward for their tough run this season as they came away 3-1 winners over Hurstville last week and will be hopeful a top-half finish is still up for grabs this season.
A first win in 14 weeks could do the world of good for the young players in the squad, who will hope to gain confidence from a victory which was more common earlier in the season.
If they can hold their nerve at the start of the match, the Flame could well build into this contest and will be motivated to have their say on the promotion battle and potentially push back up for a top-half finish.
With promotion on the line for the hosts and confidence rebuilt for the visitors, this clash could provide a few surprise moments which could shape the end of the season.
Hurstville FC vs Fraser Park FC, 7pm at Penshurst Park
Previous Meeting: Fraser Park FC 1-2 Hurstville FC
An intriguing battle awaits as Hurstville FC host Fraser Park FC, where plenty of league positions are up for grabs.
Hurstville held on despite a Fraser Park comeback late in this season’s reverse fixture and will hope to complete the league double as they look to stop their slide down the ladder.
11th-placed Hurstville FC are in their worst form of the season – five losses in a row and only one win from their past eleven matches – and will hope to turn that around this week.
They will be without Samuel Shainfeld, Jacob Botic and Stephan Perak following their red cards last week but will carry confidence from the way they have been playing and will hope that translates into a result this week.
A match against a side they beat earlier this season could be the push Hurstville need to get over the line at home; expect them to fire up as a win could take them up two spots into 9th, while a loss could drop them to 13th.
7th-placed Fraser Park FC are in inconsistent form with two wins, two losses and a draw from their past five matches but will be hopeful of getting a win which would almost guarantee their spot in the top half of the table and potentially move them into 5th.
Fraser Park learned a tough lesson away to Camden Tigers FC last week and will look to improve their finishing in training, as well as ensure their defence provides them with a solid base to attack from.
Having only scored two goals from their past six matches and not scored in four of those, expect Fraser Park to put much more emphasis on their attack this week as they chase an important result.
With both teams experiencing a few problems to end the season, neither will want to end it negatively; expect both sides to fire up, particularly in attack, as they look to make all their hard work pay off.
Prospect United SC vs Camden Tigers FC, 7pm at William Lawson Park
Previous Meeting: Camden Tigers FC 1-3 Prospect United SC
A top-half finish is on the line for both sides as Prospect United SC host Camden Tigers FC in what should be an encounter between two fired-up teams.
Prospect came away 3-1 victors away in the reverse fixture between these two teams and a league double would elevate them to a spot where a top-half finish would almost be guaranteed.
6th-placed Prospect United SC ended their back-to-back defeat streak as they held on for a 3-2 win away over Bankstown United FC last week and will hope to use their mentality to put them within one win of a guaranteed top-half finish.
The young squad built well throughout the year and will hope to end it strong as they poise themselves to have another push towards the top of the ladder next season.
With plenty of players looking to build confidence heading into the final month of the season, expect another strong showing from the hosts, who will hope a top-four finish is not yet beyond them.
9th-placed Camden Tigers FC responded to back-to-back defeats with a 2-0 win over Fraser Park FC last week and will hope to capitalise on any slip-ups as they chase a top-half finish and hold off the teams below them.
The Tigers have shown they can beat anyone on their day and will have a game plan ready to attack Prospect this week, who they will hope to chase down come the end of the season.
A win could move them up into 8th and the Tigers will be raring to win back-to-back matches for only the second time this season.
Pride will be on the line and this match promises to deliver plenty of action, both on the ball and off it; expect there to be plenty of chances in this one.
Western Rage vs Bankstown United FC, 7pm at Rydalmere Park
Previous Meeting: Bankstown United FC 0-1 Western Rage
The Western Rage will hope to play spoiler to Bankstown United FC’s season and give a big boost to their own as the two sides meet at Rydalmere Park.
The reverse fixture between these two sides in Round 12 saw the Rage pick up their first win of the season; they will hope to complete the only league double that was possible to them this season.
The 14th-placed Western Rage remained off the bottom of the ladder despite their Round 26 match being rescheduled last week and they will hope to potentially build a four-point gap with a match in hand over Inner West Hawks FC, as they look to finish the season strongly.
This will be the first of three matches in eight days for the Rage, which means minutes and players may be managed as they look to avoid further injuries to end the season.
With seven goals from their past two matches and a clean sheet against the Newcastle Jets under their belt lately, expect the Rage to continue to shake up the competition this week.
5th-placed Bankstown United FC saw their seven-match unbeaten streak end 3-2 at the hands of Prospect United SC last week and will hope for a quick response as they chase a top-four finish.
They are four points behind Gladesville Ryde Magic with a match in hand and will be raring to fire back against a side they lost to earlier this season.
With Prospect United SC and Fraser Park FC chasing closely behind, Bankstown United FC will hope to continue their charge up the ladder and end the season on the high note they have been on.
With plenty of pride and positions still to play for among both sides, this clash should provide plenty of entertainment as the season draws near to the end.
2nd-placed Nepean FC have their bye this round.
By Football New South Wales League Two Men’s Writer, Dylan Costa @_dylancosta