Round 5 Preview – League One Men’s

a person holding a sign posing for the net

With a hectic week of action behind us, teams in the FNSW League One Men’s competition will have the chance to either continue their momentum or turn it around in round five action.

Headlined by Hakoah’s trip to Blacktown Spartans, there’s plenty of talking points ahead of the weekend’s action.

Match of the Round: Blacktown Spartans v Hakoah FC; Saturday 9 March, 7pm, Blacktown Football Park

Our match of the round takes us to Blacktown Football Park as Blacktown Spartans host Hakoah FC this Saturday night.

The hosts Blacktown Spartans were emphatic in their victory over Bonnyrigg White Eagles last weekend. Sitting in fifth position, consistency has so far escaped them in 2024, something they will hope back-to-back home games can correct.

It won’t be easy though as Hakoah have started the season without losing across their four games. Sitting two points above their hosts on the table, this week’s visitors won last weekend against Macarthur Rams on the road.

Back to the Spartans first and they have plenty of players coming into this one in form. Their attack will be led by the duo of Aedon Kyra and Suleyman Bangura. While Jame Percevski and Peter Pelekanos also found the back of the net last weekend in their thumping victory. They won 2-0 in the last meeting between the two late last season.

Nicholas Drummond is the key player to watch for Hakoah approaching this one, Drummond scoring both a goal and an assist against Macarthur Rams last weekend. While elsewhere, Nicholas Tooley also found the back of the net and Nikolas Loe has started the season well in goal.

Reminder that this and every match of the round this season will be available to watch on the Football NSW youtube channel. With a 7pm kick off for this one.

Other Features

Dulwich Hill FC v SD Raiders; Saturday 9 March, 7pm, Arlington Oval

Two sides looking for a return to winning ways meet as Dulwich Hill host SD Raiders at the historic Arlington Oval.

The draw hasn’t been kind to Dulwich Hill early in the season with games against Bulls FC Academy and Mt Druitt Town Rangers in their past three fixtures. Still, that is now behind them, and a win here will be important for their 2024 prospects as it is their fourth home game in a row.

Let’s touch on their last game in more detail though which saw them go down against Bulls FC Academy by a single goal. They had multiple opportunities early on without reward with their opponent’s depth playing a key part in the game. Coach Tony Valavanis will be looking for his side to apply the lessons learnt there in this one.

It’s been an inconsistent start to the season for SD Raiders who have two wins and two losses to their name heading into round five of the competition. If that run continues here, they are due a victory in this one against a side they had mixed fortunes against last season.

Last weekend against Bankstown City, it was two late goals which ended up costing them on their home turf. Their attack coming up against a stoic defense from their visitors. Still, we know the quality this side has, look out for captain James Letta and Noah Chianese to lead the side around the pitch in this one.

Rydalmere Lions v Dunbar Rovers; Saturday 9 March, 7pm, Rydalmere Park

Finally, to conclude our featured section, Rydalmere Lions host Dunbar Rovers as the visitors chase their first win of the season.

Looking at the table, it would be easy to dismiss Rydalmere Lions this season already, however let me put forward an argument against that. Indeed, results haven’t been great but performances have been there for Anthony Harb’s side to suggest they’ll be a nuisance to every side in the division.

Last weekend, they went down narrowly to Canterbury Bankstown in a physical contest. There is also a sense of misfortune with a hefty injury toll early in the season. If they are allowed to play their passing game and with a bit of luck, they will quite likely emerge victorious in a game they come in favourites.

Despite losing their game last weekend, Dunbar Rovers will be encouraged by their game against Bulls FC academy. Sitting on 2 points from their four fixtures this season, a win here would come as a boost for Christian Soares side.

The key man to watch for the Rovers this season is once again Daisuke Yamaguchi who nearly scored a miraculous goal against Bulls FC Academy and equalized against UNSW FC in the derby last Tuesday. Three points could well prove important for Dunbar with Bonnyrigg and Bankstown City beyond this.

Quickfire previews

Bankstown City v UNSW FC; Friday 8 March, 8pm, Jensen Park

Bankstown City finally got a win under their belt in round four action after a frustrating start to the season. Prevailing over SD Raiders away from home, Chris Payne doubled his goal tally this season joined by Rhett Desilva who grabbed his first.

Four points in their first three games, it’s been a solid start to life in the division for UNSW FC. Despite tasting their first defeat against Northern Tigers last weekend, they put together a performance to be proud of missing seven of their stars. A similar challenge awaits them here.

Nepean FC v Bulls FC Academy; Friday 8 March, 8pm, Cook Park (St Mary’s)

It’s been a tough start to life in the division for Nepean FC. A return home will be welcome here after one draw and two defeats in their first three games. Look out for improvements in the final third where something just hasn’t clicked so far in 2024.

No such issues for their opponents in Bulls FC Academy. They come out of the three-game week with three victories over Dulwich Hill, Blacktown Spartans and Dunbar Rovers. The most notable of which came over Blacktown Spartans. They’ll be favourites for this one.

Northern Tigers v Canterbury Bankstown; Saturday 9 March, 6:30pm, North Turramurra Recreation Area

Northern Tigers have had a strong start to their campaign in 2024. Winning all three of their games last weekend, they overcame the students most recently by a 1-0 margin. Olivier Beltran-Woodward has made an impressive start for Adam Hett’s side with two goals in three games.

Their opponents Canterbury Bankstown have acquired some momentum of their own winning back-to-back games last week. A comfortable win over Macarthur Rams, they backed it up with a 1-0 result against Rydalmere Lions.

Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Macarthur Rams; Saturday 9 March, 7pm, Popondetta Park

Another side who are undefeated in their first four games, Mt Druitt Town Rangers have every reason to be happy after their perfect start. Three of those four wins have come against strong teams which sets them up well ahead of this weekend.  Look out for Charles Mendy to impress here.

This looks like a tough ask for Macarthur Rams who have just a single point from their first four games. Improvement is needed at either end of the field after conceding six without response in two games against Canterbury Bankstown and Hakoah.

Inter Lions v Bonnyrigg White Eagles; Saturday 9 March, 7pm, Majors Bay Reserve

After two defeats in round two and three, a return to winning ways was welcome for Inter Lions last weekend. Focusing on their game management, they kept a clean sheet against Nepean FC. Owen Duke played a key role at the back while Fikret Berisha was also instrumental in their win.

Plenty of eyes will be on Bonnyrigg White Eagles coming into this one. Travelling for every game of the season so far, their heaviest defeat came at the hands of Blacktown Spartans last weekend. Another two weeks before they return home, they’ll want some momentum to bring into it.

By Justin Smith