Manly and Blacktown kick-off NPL NSW Round 3

It is Round 3 in NPL New South Wales competition and the games come thick and fast this weekend, starting on Friday night as Manly United host Blacktown City.

Sutherland Sharks return home for the second straight week and take on Sydney United 58 in Saturday’s early game, while Sydney Olympic is back at Belmore against APIA Leichhardt.

Saturday night features league leaders Rockdale Ilinden as they travel to Marconi.

The round wraps up on Sunday with two matches as Wollongong Wolves clash with Mt Druitt and Sydney FC close out this week’s matches against Northbridge Bulls at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday night. 

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Manly United v Blacktown City, 7 pm Friday at Cromer Park

A maiden win in 2021 will be the goal for Manly United when they host Blacktown City at Cromer Park on Saturday.

The boys from the Northern Beaches are undefeated to start the season with back to back draws.

However, it could’ve been two wins with Manly blowing winning positions in both games after conceding goals in the final moments twice.

Coach Adam Griffiths will be determined to help his side find the winning edge and killer instinct to close out games.

Richie Cardozo’s experience will be important this season in what is a young Manly team and he delivered in round 2 with a stunning free-kick to score.

Kieran Paull is another veteran of the side who will play a big role in defence. He had a strong game against the Wolves and will be a leading light in the Manly backline.

All eyes will be on Manly’s Japanese import Seiya Kambayashi who has caught the attention of many with decent performances in his first two matches.

Looking to snatch the three points will be Blacktown City who are also yet to suffer defeat this season.

A draw in the opening round and then a solid win last week has the Mark Crittenden coached side building nicely during the early stages of the campaign.

After a scoreless draw against APIA in round one, Blacktown rediscovered their scoring touch against Northbridge thanks to finishes from young stars Jak O’Brien and Suleyman Bangura.

Club favourite Travis Major has also been in impressive form after rejoining the side this offseason. ‘The Major’ celebrated his 200th game for the club last weekend and will no doubt be in and amongst all the action come Friday.

The nucleus of Grant Lynch and Daniel Collins and Lachlan Campbell have been in good form sharpening the club’s defensive stocks with inspirational club captain Matt Lewis still nursing a pre-season injury.

Blacktown will be out for goals and will look to see if Manly has fixed their late lapses of recent weeks.

A thrilling clash to open round three.

Blacktown City
UNDEFEATED: Blacktown City are aiming to make it two wins on the trot when they tackle Manly United. (Image: Jeremy Ng for Football NSW)

Sutherland Sharks v Sydney United 58, 3.30 pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw Park

Sutherland Sharks face their biggest test of the season to date when they host a red hot and title contender Sydney United 58 at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday.

A missed penalty kick was the only thing standing between the Sharks and a maiden win for the season last week and the team will be determined to make up for it this time around.

The Nick Dimovski coached side has displayed brilliant fighting spirit so far this season and have proven with two solid showings that they are no easy beats.

Chris McStay in the centre of midfield has been an absolute workhorse for the boys from the Shire and his ability to create opportunities shouldn’t be overlooked.

Chris Lindsay is another player who excelled against Marconi with his delivery from the dead ball situations and from the left flank a concern for opposition defences.

Sydney United 58 come into this match full of confidence after a thumping 5-2 win against Sydney FC in round two.

Young gun Coach Tomi Vidovic would’ve been delighted with the performance of his side against the Young Sky Blues as they made it back to back wins.

United 58’s attack is firing on all cylinders with frontmen Patrick Antelmi and Chris Payne both scoring a brace.

For Payne that is three goals in his first two games since rejoining the reigning NPL NSW Champions.

The visitors will be favourites for this match, but in front of a vocal home crowd, Sutherland will be looking to cause an upset.

Sutherland Sharks
SATURDAY SHOWDOWN: Sutherland Sharks are unbeaten so far this season but can they keep it going against Sydney United 58? (Image: Sebastian Giunta for Football NSW)

Sydney Olympic FC v APIA Leichhardt FC, 4 pm Saturday at Belmore Sports Ground

Traditional rivals face-off at Belmore Sports ground this Saturday as Sydney Olympic host inner-west neighbours APIA Leichhardt.

It has been a less than perfect start for Olympic who have suffered back to back defeats and are yet to score after their opening two games of the season.

While the Ante Juric coached side has faced off against the reigning premiers and champions in preceding weeks, Olympic would’ve expected to have taken away far more than what they have from those clashes.

The lack of goalscoring would be a concern to Juric. While Peter Kekeris and Brendon Cholakian have both been good in midfield, strikers Yu Hasegawa, Oliver Pufflett and Fabio Ferriera haven’t been able to make the most of the chances created.

Adam Parkhouse was on the bench against Rockdale last weekend which raised a few eyebrows but we may see him slot into the side on Saturday.

APIA Leichhardt comes into this game with similar troubles.

A scoreless draw in round one was followed by a 3-1 defeat in round two as the John Calleja coached APIA struggled to find their groove in the opening two games.

After an impressive defensive performance against Blacktown, APIA struggled to contain Mt Druitt’s free-flowing attack.

One positive for APIA has been Sam McIllhatton who helped set up their only goal last week in what was an industrious performance from the young midfielder.

Tough tackling defender Paul Galimi looks set to return to the starting line-up, a fiery figure that APIA have missed in the opening two matches while the likes of Will Mutch, Harry Callahan and Mathieu Cordier will also be seen as players to watch out for at Belmore on Saturday.

These two sides are desperate for a win with pressure building from their vocal fans.

Although it is early in the season, there is a lot riding on this game for both teams.

APIA Leichhardt
RIVALRY: APIA Leichhardt tackle inner-west neighbours Sydney Olympic on Saturday afternoon. (Image: Brett Nielsen Photography)

Marconi Stallions v Rockdale Ilinden FC, 6 pm Saturday at Marconi Stadium

Marconi Stallions will be looking to put a halt to Rockdale’s perfect start to the season when the two sides go head to head at Marconi Stadium this Saturday.

The Stallions have had a shaky opening two weeks and are in desperate need of a confidence-boosting win.

A penalty save from star keeper Nenad Vekic saved Marconi from defeat last week as they snatched a 1-1 draw against Sutherland, while in round one defeat to Sydney FC caught many by surprise.

Coach Peter Tsekenis will want to shake-up his side going into this game in an attempt to end their first-half struggles which have proven costly.

Chris Hatfield could be given the start this week after coming off the bench in round two, the new signing will be determined to impress and his enthusiasm could inject some extra energy into the Marconi side.

Vekic bounced back from his difficult opening round with a man of the match performance last week. He will be very important for Marconi this season and especially against a Rockdale side who are firing on all cylinders.

Ilinden fought out a tough 1-0 win against Sydney Olympic last week which was very different to their one-sided 4-0 thrashing of Wollongong in round one.

Alec Urosevski is scoring for fun which is a delight for the Rockdale fans, but it has been their stout defence that has been the low-key standout of their performances so far.

Coach Steven Zoric sets a high standard for his team so expect another big showing in what is their first match away from home.

Marconi needs a win to get their campaign back on track and will need to bring their A-game if they are to upset a top tier side like Rockdale.

Rockdale Ilinden
TOP OF THE POPS: Rockdale Ilinden are aiming to stay top of the table when they tackle Marconi. (Image: loopii for Football NSW)

Wollongong Wolves v Mt Druitt Town Rangers, 2.30 pm Sunday at Albert Butler Memorial Park

Wollongong Wolves will be fighting for their first win of the season when they host Mt Druitt Town Rangers at Albert Butler Memorial Park on Sunday.

It has been a rough start to the season for the Wolves who suffered an embarrassing 4-0 loss in week one before snatching a dramatic 1-1 draw in week two.

Coach Luke Wilkshire will not be happy with how his side has performed so far and the pressure will be on Wollongong to take their game up a notch.

Consistent defender Taylor McDonald was the hero last week with an 89th-minute finish to secure a point and his experience will be just as important this week against a talented Rangers outfit.

Brendan Griffin was another one who stood out for the Wolves in round two and will be looking to back it up this week.

Mt Druitt comes into this game on the back of an impressive 3-1 win against APIA Leichhardt.

The Rangers attack was firing on all cylinders with John Roberts, Cooper Coskerie and Mitchell Smith all finding the back of the net.

Coach Stewart Montgomery would also be proud of the defensive efforts of his squad as they held out an APIA attack littered with talent.

While Tarek Elrich’s injury is a big loss for Mt Druitt, The Rangers have shown there is life without their superstar signing.

Wollongong is tough to beat at home but the Wolves will need to find another level if they are to stop this in form Rangers side.

Mt Druitt Town Rangers
MOMENTUM BUILDER: Mt Druitt Town Rangers are aiming to post another 3 points when they head to Wollongong. (Image: Brett Nielsen Photography)

Sydney FC v Northbridge Bulls FC, 6.30 pm Sunday at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre

Sydney FC will be looking for a return to winning ways when they take on Northbridge Bulls FC this Sunday.

It will be a pseudo A-League derby at Ilinden Sports Centre with anticipation building for this clash between two teams packed with young talent.

Sydney FC notched a big win in round one against Marconi, but was humbled in a big way last week as Sydney United 58 beat them 5-2.

despite that result, Coach Jim van Weeren won’t be too disappointed with his squad despite the comprehensive defeat.

It was a tough day at the office for shot-stopper Adam Pavlesic but if it wasn’t for his efforts the scoreline could’ve been much bigger.

Luke Ivanovic displayed the skills which have earned him 38 appearances for Sydney FC’s A-League side on his way to scoring. His ability to find the back of the net will be important.

Northbridge comes into the game on the back of a 2-0 loss to Blacktown City.

The Bulls were strong in the first half but were unable to find their groove in the second stanza after conceding just before the interval.

Moudi Najjar was a stand out performer for the Bulls and was the closest to finding the back of the net for the Mile Sterjovski coached side.

Bul Juach could be the source of those goals with the talented striker slowly working his way back after a severe injury at the end of 2020.

It will be a high energy clash and should offer plenty for the fans. A thrilling clash to close out round 3.

Northbridge Bulls
SUNDAY KICK OFF: Northbridge Bulls take on Sydney FC in a psuedo A-League derby to close out Round 3. (Image: Jeremy Ng for Football NSW)
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