IGA NPL NSW Mens 1 Round 2 Preview

It is a bumper week for the NPL IGA NSW Mens 1 competition, featuring two matches of the round.

It is a bumper week for the NPL IGA NSW Mens 1 competition, featuring two matches of the round.

The first is on Saturday night when APIA-Leichhardt Tigers host Marconi Stallions at the newly renovated Lambert Park. A huge crowd is expected and with a number of special guests from sport and government, it promises to be a special occasion.

The second match of the round is on Sunday afternoon when Sydney Olympic host Blacktown Spartans, a match that will see the debut of their guest signing Sotirios Kyrgiakos.


APIA-Leichhardt Tigers v Marconi Stallions, 7pm at Lambert Park

The grand old ground is new again.

Lambert Park has undergone a facelift and a makeover and is back in full working order for the 2014 season. They will open the new facility with a bang, an Italian derby against their great rivals of years gone by, Marconi Stallions.

APIA-Leichhardt head into the match on the back of a first round draw with St George Saints, a performance that Billy McColl suggested could have been a bit more polished.

There is no doubt that APIA could turn a few heads this season and in Michael West, Brad Bartels and Stephen Kayes there are a few familiar faces to go with the new, Aman Hadid and Daniel Fogarty among them.

Marconi-s round one match against Manly United was washed out, so they are short of match practice heading into his one. They won-t be short of motivation though against their arch-rivals and having won the grand final in 2012, they will want to get back to that form under new coach Darren Iocca.


Sydney Olympic v Blacktown Spartans, 5pm at Belmore Sports Ground

Sydney Olympic welcomed Sotirios Kyrgiakos with much fanfare during the week. The former Greek international won 64 caps for the national team in an eight year international career, and he made a number of appearances Panathanaikos, Rangers, Eintracht Frankfurt, AEK Athens and Liverpool.

He will make the first of two appearances for Sydney Olympic on Sunday afternoon and after their upset victory over Sydney United 58 last week, they will be on a high for the occasion.

Olympic were too good and showed the progress that they-ve made after a full preseason under Grant Lee, after the disruptions of 2013.

Spartans though are coming into this match on the back of one of the most sensational results in recent times, their 6-1 demolition of Sutherland Sharks in round one.

Nathan Millgate scored a hat trick in that one as Spartans put Sutherland to the sword, taking advantage of the absence of their captain Nick Stavroulakis and their first choice goalkeeper Nathan Denham.

There is also the sub-plot of a having a number of ex-Olympic players in their ranks. Many found a home at Spartans following the fallout at Belmore last year, so for Phil Makrys, Brett Studman, Emmanuel Giannaros and off season signing Kingsley Williams, it will be an interesting return “home” this weekend.



Sutherland Sharks v South Coast Wolves, 7:30pm at Seymour Shaw Park

There is only one other game on Saturday night and it will be an all-south affair between Sutherland Sharks and South Coast Wolves.

Both sides were humbled last week, Sharks going down 6-1 at Blacktown Spartans and Wolves losing 5-0 at home to Blacktown City.

There are better ways to kick off a season and both sides will be looking to wipe the slate clean and start afresh in this one.

Sutherland at least will be boosted by the return of Nick Stavroulakis to midfield but he alone cannot change Sharks- fortunes. They will need to show far better all round application and diligence this weekend.

Wolves likewise were terrible last weekend, but will be hopeful of putting that down to a one-off performance rather than a match that will have a lasting impression on the construction of their season.


St George v Blacktown City, 3pm at WIN Jubilee Oval

St George returned to the NPL IGA NSW Mens 1 competition last weekend and secured a point first up against APIA-Leichhardt Tigers.

Both their goals were scored by Juan Chavez, the captain and winner of the 2013 Golden Boot in the Mens 2 competition. Manny Spanoudakis- side showed much promise in a 15- minute spell in the second half, but will need to improve again to match it with the best in this year-s competition.

Blacktown City found it very easy going against South Coast Wolves last weekend and they will be very keen to make it six points from six at WIN Jubilee Oval.

Mark Crittenden-s side had a disappointing 2013 but took a great first step to consigning that to history in round one and they won-t get many better chances to start the season on the right foot.

Rockdale City Suns v Sydney United 58, 3pm at Ilinden Sports Centre

The master hosts the apprentice as Branko Culina-s Rockdale City take on Mark Rudan-s Sydney United 58 on Sunday afternoon.

The fortunes of these two sides varied widely in round one, Rockdale City taking an excellent 2-0 win away to competition favourites Bonnyrigg White Eagles last weekend, while United went down to Sydney Olympic.

Culina made the decisive turn in that match, sending on both Ben Cornish and Nick Taneski, who scored within minutes of their respective introductions. They had frustrated Bonnyrigg for most of the match and in the end deserved their win.

United meanwhile were very poor against Olympic, not withstanding the fact that they were light on players. Of particular interest will be the return of Diego Barcena (if available) to face the club where he made his NPL name with a number of stellar performances last year, especially in the finals run.

United will still be without Glen Trifiro, who scored for the Central Coast Mariners on the weekend and it is a loss that will very much affect their midfield, as Trifiro was one of the best players in the competition last season.

Manly United v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 3:15pm at Cromer Park

Manly United host Bonnyrigg White Eagles to open their season after the round one washout at Marconi Stadium.

Manly was much improved in the IGA Preseason Cup and with Chris Payne on board up front they have a potent front man on which to base their hopes. With Dylan Mitchell, Scott Balderson and Graeme Forbes back on board for another year, Manly have the ability to turn some heads.

They face a tough opening task against Bonnyrigg White Eagles, flagged by many as competition favourites in the lead up to round one.

They were poor against Rockdale City in an additional match on a heavy pitch last weekend, though the performance of the ever-reliable Matthew Nash in goal was encouraging.

In Robbie Younis they have the most genuine of goal threats and Manly will have to be alive to the danger as well as clinical themselves if they are going to cause an upset.