BLACKTOWN Spartans may be atop the table, but their nearest challengers are now Bonnyrigg White Eagles, after their Match of the Round victory over Blacktown City.
Rockdale City took the upper hand in the finals race by beating Sutherland, who are now sixth and three points behind Sydney Olympic.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1-0 Blacktown City, at Bonnyrigg Sports Centre
It was bitterly cold and the pitch was dusty and uneven, which didn't help either side play their brand of attacking football in the only Saturday evening match of round 20.
Both sides knew they would go top of the table, at least for 24 hours, if they could wrap up three points and in the end it was the home side that came away with victory.
They did so courtesy of a mistake by Blacktown City goalkeeper Blake Tuxford. It was a shame that he made the mistake that cost his side the points, as the young gloveman made a number of superb saves throughout the 90' minutes.
The goal came shortly before the hour mark. Chris Tadrosse swung in a corner from the right and Tuxford dropped the ball cold, leaving Bonnyrigg defender Nikola Zonjic with the simple task of bundling the ball over the line from a few yards out.
Tuxford had earlier made a wonderful save to tip of a shot from distance by Robbie Younis before going on to make a fingertip save from Alex Mansuetto and then a full length dive to his left to deny Ken Chun.
It was enough to prove him the match's outstanding player, even with his error. Nevertheless, it is Bonnyrigg who are now closest to Blacktown Spartans with two games to play.
Round 20 Review
South Coast Wolves 0-2 St George, at WIN Stadium
South Coast Wolves' run has come to a bit of a halt and they were defeated again down in Wollongong against St George.
Manny Spanoudakis' side was in dire need of points and they are still at the foot of the table despite picking up the three points.
Dion Shaw made a number of important saves in the first half, which laid the platform for the Saints' smash-and-grab victory, obtained with goals by Juan Chavez (60' minutes) and David Dascal (82' minutes).
Rockdale City Suns 3-0 Sutherland Sharks, at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City boosted their semi-final hopes and may have fatally damaged Sutherland Sharks' with their 3-0 win at the Ilinden Sports Centre.
Paul Reid was outstanding in midfield and he set up Nikola Taneski to open the scoring mid-way through the first half.
On the back of their win over Blacktown City last weekend, Rockdale was brimming with confidence and Taneski was too. He added to his tally in first half stoppage time, which was lengthy due to an injury to Jordan Figon. It was to Sutherland's detriment in both senses as Taneski doubled his and Rockdale's tally.
Toufic Alameddine added the third in the dying stages to add some gloss to the scoreline and leave Sutherland with plenty to do if they are to make the top five.
Sydney Olympic 3-1 Manly United, at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic are fifth, three points clear of Sutherland as they took full advantage of the Sharks' slip-up by beating Manly United for the second time this week.
After beating Manly in the Westfield FFA Cup, Olympic returned to home soil to take on Paul Dee's men, who were being led by Jimmy Van Weeren in the absence of their coach Paul Dee who was absent for business.
Olympic took the lead shortly before half time courtesy of an own goal by Roberto Speranza. But Manly found an equaliser through their young star, Daniel Saric.
Olympic needed late goals to put themselves in the driver's seat for fifth place and they found them through Michael Gaitatzis and Dimitri Hatzimouratis.
Sydney United 58 FC 3-0 APIA-Leichhardt Tigers, at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 FC climbed a few places to seventh thanks to their comprehensive 3-0 win over APIA-Leichhardt Tigers at Sydney United Sports Centre.
APIA once more paid for their profligacy in front of goal and Mark Rudan's United took full advantage, their three goals giving the scoreline an emphatic look.
The Reds took a 1-0 lead into the break thanks to Stjepan Paric's goal. Second half goals to Mirjan Pavlovic and Joel Chianese made it 3-0 and sent APIA-Leichhardt home wondering what might have been.
Blacktown Spartans 2-1 Marconi Stallions, at Blacktown Football Park
Blacktown Spartans scored twice in two minutes and that was that. They went back to the top of the table with their 2-1 win at home to Marconi Stallions and it was goals in the 16' and 18' minute that made the difference.
Elsid Barkhousir opened the scoring for Spartans from the spot after Brenton Rhodes brought down Connor Evans. Rhodes saw red and Barkhousir made no mistake.
As the Stallions were trying to regroup, Connor Evans added a second goal to put Spartans two-up without even 20' minutes on the clock.
Ben De Haan's side knew better than to let things slip and even though Shu Sasaki pulled one back late for the Stallions, Spartans now have a two-point lead with two rounds left to play.More information about the competitions can be found at www.nplnsw.com.au