Sutherland Sharks vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers – Saturday 27th July
Sutherland Sharks (9th) 22 pts- LLWDW
Mt Druitt Town Rangers (10th) 21 pts – LDLWW
Sutherland Sharks host Mt Druitt Town Rangers in the opening game for Round 20 of the NPL NSW. Both of these teams are sitting right next to each other on the table with only a point being the difference. They have equally struggled for consistency recently with both clubs only having managed two wins in their last five games. Whilst unlikely, it is not impossible for these two teams to make a late push and qualify for the NPL NSW finals and with only three rounds to play, every point counts.
Key player for Sutherland Sharks – Jeremy Cox (9 goals in NPL NSW)
Sharks have not only struggled for consistency recently but they are also lacking goals. Following two heavy losses to Wollongong and Marconi, the Shire-based side have not found the back of the net in nearly a month. If the club intend to make a big push in these last three games to try and make the finals series then they will need to look to leading goalscorer Jeremy Cox, who has netted 9 goals this season. Cox has become an important player for the club over the past two seasons and he will need to step up as Sharks hope to turn their season around.
Key player for Mt Druitt Town Rangers – Fabricio Fernández
Mt Druitt are another side which have struggled to find the back of the net recently and will be looking to claim their first win in over a month. The club will be looking to none other than their Uruguayan midfielder; Fabricio Fernández. The South American import has scored 10 goals this season and Mt Druitt fans will be comforted by the fact that he found the back of the net when these two sides last met in a 1-1 draw back in May.
Mt Druitt will be out to prove a point after a heart-breaking loss to Manly United in Wednesday’s installment of the FFA Cup while also trying to push for a finals spot. Sutherland have the luxury of an extra few days rest while Mt Druitt have only a 3 day turnaround from their clash with Manly which saw them exit the competition on penalties. Both teams’ top goalscorer will need to be on top form if either club is looking for a result.
Prediction – Sutherland Sharks 2 – Mount Druitt Town Rangers 1
APIA Leichhardt Tigers vs Sydney FC – Saturday 27th July
APIA Leichhardt (2nd) 38 pts – WDWWW
Sydney FC (11th) 20pts – WWLLL
APIA Leichhardt will take on Sydney FC’s NPL side this weekend in Round 20 of the NPL NSW. APIA are sitting comfortably in 2nd place whilst Sydney are lurking around 11th place. APIA are enjoying another successful season and currently sit four points clear of third place. The Inner West-based side will be hoping to claim victory over Sydney FC as they look to cruise to a second place finish as the finals of NPL NSW are fast approaching.
Key player for APIA Leichhardt – Christopher Payne (17 goals in NPL NSW)
The player to watch out for this weekend will be star forward Christopher Payne. He has managed 17 goals in 18 appearances for APIA this season and has shown no signs of slowing down. Payne has scored 5 goals in his last 5 games for the club and will be looking to crack 20 goals before the season’s end. He also netted 2 goals the last time APIA and Sydney FC met.
Key player for Sydney FC – Marco Tilio (5 goals in NPL NSW)
Sydney have struggled against some of the top sides this season and if they are looking to collect a win over APIA they will need to turn to rising star Marco Tilio. The 17 year old winger played a handful of games for Sydney FC’s NPL side last season and has cemented himself in the team this season. Tilio has also made his debut for Sydney FC’s senior team in an Asian Champions League group stage match against Kawasaki Frontale. The young gun has scored 5 goals this season and his flair will be needed for Sydney to get a result.
APIA Leichhardt have enjoyed a successful season this year and will be hoping to go into the NPL NSW finals series with some good form. The club have recorded 4 wins in the past 5 games and cruised to a 1-3 win over Sydney FC when they last faced off. It was a disappointing outing for Sydney but a comfortable win for APIA and they will be hoping to do the same on Saturday.
Prediction – APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 4 – Sydney FC 0
Manly United vs Rockdale City Suns – Sunday 28th July
Manly United (7th) 26 pts – WLLLW
Rockdale City Suns (8th) – LLLLL
Rockdale City Suns will make the trip up to Manly this weekend as they look to turn their fortunes around in an attempt to qualify for the finals. Rockdale currently sit three points off 5th place but have lost their last 5 games and for them to qualify for the NPL NSW finals is a tough ask. They are also three points behind Manly which means that anything but a win will end their season.
Key player for Manly United – Brendan Cholakian (8 goals in NPL NSW)
Manly United sit within touching distance of a finals spot and a win over Rockdale will push them further towards their goal. Cholakian has found the back of the net 8 times this season and scored against Rockdale the last time they met, although his side lost the match 2-1. Manly will be needing a win to jump further ahead of Rockdale and their star forward will need to be on form.
Key player for Rockdale City Suns – Alec Urosevski (8 goals in NPL NSW)
There are no ifs or buts about this one. This game is an absolute must win for Rockdale if they are to have any hope of qualifying for the NPL NSW finals. Alec Urosevski has scored 8 goals this season for Rockdale and he will play an important role in this weekend’s match. 5 losses in a row is a worrying stat for the Rockdale side and Urosevski will need to bring his A game if they are to collect all 3 points over Manly.
Manly will no doubt be on a high after defeating Mt Druitt on penalties to advance to the Round of 16 of the FFA Cup. Despite the big win, the players will no doubt be feeling the strain of playing 120 minutes and Rockdale will need to take advantage of this if they are to save their season.
Prediction – Manly United 1 – Rockdale City Suns 1
Blacktown City vs Wollongong Wolves – Sunday 28th July
Blacktown City (3rd) 34pts – WDWWL
Wollongong Wolves (1st) 45pts – WWWWW
Two of the NPL NSW’s top teams will be going head to head this weekend, it’s first against third as Blacktown City host Wollongong Wolves. Wollongong will be heading into this game with bags of confidence, as they are currently sitting pretty in 1st place and have won their last 5 games in a row. Not too far down the table is Blacktown in third place, the Western Sydney based side are currently seven points clear of 4th place and will want to keep up their good form but this will be no easy task as they go up against a dominant Wolves side.
Key player for Wollongong Wolves – Thomas James (20 goals in NPL NSW)
Arguably the standout player in the competition this season, Thomas James has amassed a monstrous 20 goals in 19 games and he will surely be testing the Blacktown defence come Sunday. Blacktown struggled against him in their last outing where he scored twice which resulted in a 4-0 win for the Illawarra side.
Key player for Blacktown City – Mason Versi (2 goals in NPL NSW)
Blacktown’s player to watch for this week is Mason Versi. The former Mariners youth player netted twice in last week’s 4-2 win over Rockdale City Suns. Whilst this was the only game he has scored this season, Blacktown’s fans will be hoping that the young gun is reaching form at the right time as they look to go up against a solid Wollongong side.
Wollongong put on a convincing display last time these two sides faced off and this week should be no different. Wolves have been the standout side during this season and they should win comfortably if star striker James is on form. Blacktown will give their best but expect Wollongong to walk away with the three points.
Prediction – Blacktown City 1 – Wollongong Wolves 3
Sydney Olympic vs Marconi Stallions – Sunday 28th July
Sydney Olympic (6th) 26pts – LWWLW
Marconi Stallions (5th) 26pts – WWDLL
It would not be an understatement to say that this is the game of the round. Two classic rivals going head to head. Both of these clubs are fighting for a finals spot and are sitting on level points. Olympic lost on their last outing against APIA Leichhardt and will be looking to get back to winning ways as they look to defend their title. Marconi on the other hand have secured back to back wins and will be looking to make it three in a row when they head out to Belmore.
Key player for Sydney Olympic – Alex Sanchez (11 goals in NPL NSW)
Olympic’s star player Alex Sanchez will be looking to add to his 11 goal tally when his side go up against Marconi this weekend. The Spanish striker was a crucial player for Olympic when they won the Premiership and the Championship last season and he will no doubt need to be on top form if Olympic are to sneak their way into the top 5.
Key player for Marconi Stallions – James Andrew (5 goals in NPL NSW)
Marconi currently sit in 5th place on the table and they will be hoping to solidify their position there when they take on old foes Sydney Olympic. The key player for them will be James Andrew, the Marconi forward has netted 5 goals this season and found the back of the net twice against Sutherland Sharks in their recent 3-0 win.
Prediction – Sydney Olympic 3 – Marconi Stallions 2
Hakoah Sydney City East vs Sydney United 58
Hakoah Sydney City East (12th) 10pts – LLLWL
Sydney United 58 (4th) 27pts – LDDDL
Hakoah Sydney City will take on Sydney United in the last match of Round 20 where Sydney United will no doubt be looking for three points. Despite their disappointing form recently, the club is still sitting in 4th place and will need the win if they want to keep it that way. They have not collected a win since early June where they defeated Wollongong Wolves 2-1.
Key player for Hakoah Sydney City East – Dominic Cox (1 goal in NPL NSW)
Hakoah Sydney City have endured a long and painful season and will be wanting to end the season on a high. They have only recorded 3 wins this season, the last of which came against Marconi where Dominic Cox scored the winner. Cox has struggled for goals this season but Sydney City will need him to step up this weekend.
Sydney United have struggled for form recently and have struggled for goals as well, only managing to score 1 goal in the past 5 games. If they want to qualify for finals then a win over Hakoah Sydney City is crucial. The only person to score for Sydney United in their past 5 games is Peter Simonski, who is currently the club’s leading goalscorer. They will need to turn to Simonski if they plan to turn their form around with finals fast approaching.
Key player for Sydney United – Peter Simonski (8 goals in NPL NSW)
Sydney United have struggled for form over the past several weeks and with their FFA Cup Round of 32 game next week they will be wanting to head into that game off the back of a win. Sydney United won 2-0 the last time these two sides met and this weekend’s match should be a similar result. Expect a scrappy affair between the two sides with Sydney United claiming the win.
Prediction – Hakoah Sydney City East 0 – Sydney United 1
Written by Alex Hrissis.