Round 15 Preview – League Two Men’s

a group of people standing in front of a sign

The halfway point of the 2024 Football NSW League Two Men’s season arrives in Round 15 with a tight battle brewing between the top sides gunning for promotion this season, where one final new opponent for each team remains.

The Match of the Round this week sees Hurstville FC look to get back to their good vein of form when they host a team looking to keep up with the teams at the top in Inner West Hawks FC.

 

Sunday, 19th May 2024

Match of the Round: Hurstville FC vs Inner West Hawks FC, 4pm at Penshurst Park

Last season: Inner West Hawks FC 1-1 Hurstville FC, Hurstville FC 0-0 Inner West Hawks FC

10th-placed Hurstville FC will hope to get back to the form that saw them win four matches in a row not so long ago when they host a 5th-placed Inner West Hawks FC side hoping to fire forward with fresh legs.

Last season, both encounters between these two teams ended in draws and a similarly-close contest can be expected this time with both sides hoping to climb a few spaces ahead of the completion of the first round of fixtures.

Hurstville lost back-to-back matches for the first time since Round 5 after their 2-0 home defeat to Central Coast Unites FC last week but will keep in mind their tough run of fixtures, losing back-to-back matches against last season’s League One Men’s sides in the Pirates and Mounties Wanderers FC.

Jesse Gagro scored against the Hawks last season; he and his brother Paul Gagro will hope to once again cause problems for the Hawks’ defence which has failed to keep a clean sheet in its past six matches.

Expect Hurstville to start fast at home and set up solid defensively, especially with injuries affecting the squad, as they hunt down a win which could move them up two places into 8th – a loss, meanwhile, could drop them to 12th.

The Hawks, meanwhile, took the lead against the unbeaten, league-leading Newcastle Jets last time they played but had to settle for a draw, while their Round 14 match against Camden Tigers FC was washed out and will be played at a later date.

Lawrence Claxton’s move from defence to the forward line paid dividends with a goal last week and he will hope to prove to be a good strike partner to Takuma Hirano, who currently is in a three-man race for the Golden Boot with 15 goals for the season so far.

The Hawks’ defence will hope to continue to improve, too, as they look to limit the Hurstville defence to shots from range as they did to the Jets last week – expect a fired up Hawks side to show up, where a win could move them level on points with 4th-placed Mounties Wanderers FC, with a match in hand on the top three, while a loss could drop them as low as 7th.

With plenty of crucial positions and momentum in the final round of new opponents for both sides this season, expect both Hurstville and the Hawks to put up a fight early as they look to stand their ground.

 

Friday, 17th May 2024

Mounties Wanderers FC vs Parramatta FC, 8pm at Cook Park (Mt Pritchard)

These two teams did not meet last season.

A big contest awaits for the final match in the first round of fixtures for these two sides when 4th-placed Mounties Wanderers FC hosts 11th-placed Parramatta FC.

With no recent history to base this clash on, both teams will hope to bring an element of surprise to this encounter, where experience may play its part.

Mounties Wanderers FC had their home match against Sydney University SFC last week washed out, so will be refreshed and ready to take on the Eagles in a match where they will hope to gain ground on the teams above them on the ladder.

Yuki Kanai is on 13 goals for the season, two goals behind the leading pack for the Golden Boot and will hope to cause problems with his speed and agility against a Parramatta backline which has conceded 29 goals this season.

Expect Mounties to want to control the midfield battle show plenty of character as they look to score for a sixth match in a row – a win would take Mounties into 3rd with a match in hand on the top two, while a loss would leave them exposed to dropping to the pack below in the coming weeks.

Parramatta, meanwhile, fell behind and took the lead against Bankstown United FC before settling for a draw with ten men in last week’s Match of the Round and will hope to manage their next match better when they travel to face Mounties this week.

The Eagles will be without Mouhammed Bakr after his red card last week but will hope to fill his role well, while they may also welcome back Gabriel Contigiani and Marco Sama from injury, as they hunt a win which could move them as high as 8th on the ladder – a loss, meanwhile, could drop them to 12th.

Parramatta will be prepared to test themselves against a Mounties side which has scored the third-most goals in the league with 37 and conceded the equal-third least goals with 18.

With plenty of sides bunched together across the league ladder, both Mounties and Parramatta will be hopeful of putting themselves into a good position ahead of the second half of the season.

 

Saturday, 18th May 2024

Central Coast United FC vs Prospect United SC, 3pm at Bloodtree Oval

These two teams did not meet last season.

Two teams with almost-identical records so far this season will battle in what should be a tightly-contested match when 7th-placed Central Coast United FC hosts 6th-placed Prospect United SC.

With no recent head-to-head matches to base this clash off, form so far this season will more than suffice, with both teams on 20 points with a 6-2-5 record so far this season ahead of this match.

Central Coast United are looking on the up following back-to-back losses after they came away with a strong 2-0 away win over Hurstville FC last week and will hope to build from that victory.

The Pirates will hope their physicality, especially in both boxes, will serve them well as they look to win second balls and disrupt a Prospect side which has only conceded a total of three goals from their past three matches.

With players who can hold the ball well across the park and who are press-resistent, look for the Pirates to want to control possession at home as they look to take down a Prospect side in form – a win could take the Pirates as high as 5th, while a loss could drop them to 8th.

Prospect won a third-straight match after their 4-1 home win over Gladesville Ryde Magic last week and will hunt down a fourth-straight win when they travel up the coast this week.

They have been scoring for fun lately, with 11 goals coming from their past three matches, and they have shown character in coming from behind to win in two of those matches, too.

Despite Anthony Idehen’s 10 goals for the season, the striker has not been alone in scoring with multiple other players contributing to the scoresheet lately – expect Prospect to conttinue to show fluency in attack and a mindset to win in any conditions as they hunt a win which could move them up into 5th, while a loss could see them drop as low as 8th.

Both teams are evenly poised ahead of their final match against a new opponent this season and will both be equally as confident of picking up a win in this contest – expect a close and tense match throughout where the margins will be tight.

 

Sydney University SFC vs Fraser Park FC, 5pm at Sydney University Football Ground

Last season: Fraser Park 1-0 Sydney University SFC, Sydney University SFC 0-0 Fraser Park FC

A matchup which provided two close clashes last season sees 14th-placed Sydney University SFC hosts 13th-placed Fraser Park FC.

Last season, Fraser Park came away as close 1-0 winners at home, while the second head-to-head match with University ended as a goalless draw – expect this match to be as close as those two as both sides look to earn a big win to end the first half of the season.

University had their Round 14 match away to Mounties Wanderers FC washed out, to be replayed at a later date, but lost an eighth-straight match after they gave up a 1-0 lead in their 3-1 away defeat to Prospect United SC in Round 13.

With a week off to rest and recover ahead of a busy second half of the season coming up soon, the students will hope to band together and put in a good effort, particularly in attack, as they look to win just their third match of the season.

Expect a rejuvinated University side to take the game to Fraser Park at home, where they will hope to continue to find the best positions for their players to attack from and will hope to build some points to move away from being near the bottom of the league.

Fraser Park, meanwhile, picked up a big result last week after their 1-1 draw away to the league-leading, unbeaten Newcastle Jets last week and will hope to use that match to inspire confidence moving forward.

The visitors are unbeaten in back-to-back matches for the first time since Rounds 1 and 2 and will hope to extend that streak to three this weekend in a show of progress this season.

After taking the lead and threatening to end Newcastle’s unbeaten season last week, Fraser Park will be more than up for this clash, where a win could move them up a spot into 12th-place and potentially within one win of 9th.

With both teams looking for a big win near the bottom of the league, expect both sides to continue to grow their attacking intent, where an early goal for either side could make all the difference.

 

Granville Rage vs Camden Tigers FC, 7pm at Rydalmere Park

Last season: Granville Rage 2-4 Camden Tigers FC, Camden Tigers FC 5-1 Granville Rage

Another clash between two teams close together on the ladder sees 9th-placed Granville Rage host 8th-placed Camden Tigers FC at Rydalmere Park.

Last season, Camden were big winners in both their away and home head-to-head matches, 4-2 and 5-1, respectively, in a sign that there are plenty of goals to be seen when these two teams meet.

Granville Rage had a bye last week and will hope to come out refreshed ahead of the end of the first half of the season, where they will be rejuvinated ahead of their home match against the Tigers.

With tough fixtures against four of the top five sides in the past month for the Rage, they will look forward to the challenge posed to them by a side which is solid defensively in Camden this week.

Expect Granville to come out with intent against Camden, where if they can grab the first goal in the match, it will give them confidence to grab a win which would move them ahead of the Tigers on the ladder into 8th – a loss, meanwhile, could see them drop to 11th.

Camden, meanwhile, had their home match to Inner West Hawks FC last week washed out, so will also be refreshed and ready to take on the challenge of the Rage.

Playing a third away match in a row, the Tigers will hope it can bring them success and will fight hard to catch the Rage out with an early goal.

Expect Camden to come out with an attacking intent to score the first goal, where they will hope to take advantage of their defence late in the match.

Both Granville and Camden will be confident of picking up a result in this match, which should deliver some solid action at both ends of the field.

 

South Coast Flame FC vs Bankstown United FC, 8pm at Sir Ian McLennan Oval

Last season: Bankstown United FC 1-3 South Coast Flame FC, South Coast Flame FC 2-4 Bankstown United FC

A big 3rd vs 2nd clash rounds out the Saturday action in Round 14 as South Coast Flame FC hosts Bankstown United FC.

Last season, both away sides picked up the wins in the head-to-head in a showing of the strength of these two sides, where home advantage may not play as big of a part as it does in other matches.

The Flame had their Round 13 away match against Hawkesbury City FC rescheduled to be a home match, instead, which was played on Monday, 13th May – the Flame came away from that match with a 0-0 draw, which meant they kept a clean sheet in back-to-back matches for the first time this season.

A win for the Flame would be crucial this week against a fellow challenger near the top of the ladder and they will hope to claim all three points to avoid potentially falling back into the pack.

Victory for the Flame would take them within one point of 2nd-placed Bankstown United FC and potentially within just three points of the league-leading Newcastle Jets – expect the Flame to give their all in this crucial clash.

Bankstown United FC, meanwhile, had their five-match winning streak end but continued that into a six-match unbeaten streak after they came from behind to draw 2-2 away to Parramatta FC in last week’s Match of the Round and will hope to put themselves into a strong position heading into the second half of the season.

They will hope to consolidate their strong position on the ladder and see where they are in five to six weeks’ time to see if they have a genuine shot at winning the league or shooting for promotion this season.

Expect Bankstown to remain calm and take it a game at a time – if they beat the Flame this week, they could overtake the Newcastle Jets to go top of the league and build a five-to-seven-point gap to the 3rd-placed team at the halfway point of the season.

With both sides looking to put themselves into the best position possible for the second half of the season, with crucial spots and points up for grabs near the top of the ladder, expect a feisty and fast-paced encounter where there should be plenty of chances at goal.

 

Sunday, 19th May 2024

Newcastle Jets vs Hawkesbury City FC, 5pm at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility

Last season: Newcastle Jets 4-1 Hawkesbury City FC, Hawkesbury City FC 2-0 Newcastle Jets

The league-leading Newcastle Jets host 12th-placed Hawkesbury City FC to round off Round 15 and close out the first half of the season.

Last season, the Jets picked up a strong 4-1 home victory in what was also a Round 15 clash, before the Hawks picked up the win in the reverse fixture 2-0 – expect a strong Jets side to start strong at home and for a formidable Hawks side to fire back.

The Newcastle Jets remained unbeaten through the first 14 rounds of the season after their come-from-behind 1-1 draw at home to Fraser Park last week and will hope to be more clinical with their chances this week as they look to go half-a-season unbeaten.

The Jets will be without their leading goal scorer for the season in Justin Vidic after his red card last week, so other players will need to step up to score in his absence, such as Janni Rafty, Xavier Bertoncello and Alex Nunes.

The hosts remain the best offensive and defensive side this season, with 41 goals scored and only 10 conceded – expect the Jets to come out quickly in this match to put the pressure on the Hawks early.

Hawkesbury City FC, meanwhile, have found form in the past month with two wins and a draw from their past four matches, with results coming against some difficult opponents.

They drew 0-0 away to South Coast Flame FC on Monday, 13th May in their rescheduled Round 14 match and will hope that picking up back-to-back clean sheets will boost their confidence ahead of their trip up the coast to Newcastle.

Look for the Hawks to want to limit the Jets early in the match and build confidence as they look to end the Jets’ unbeaten season.

With the Jets looking to continue their unbeaten season to the halfway point and the Hawks looking to be the team that stops that, this clash should provide plenty of entertainment from both sides.

 

Last-placed Gladesville Ryde Magic have a bye in Round 15.

 

By Football New South Wales League Two Men’s Reporter, Dylan Costa (@_dylancosta)