Round 2 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition rolls into town and we’re hoping that it will add a ray of sunshine in what’s been abysmal wet and rainy conditions in Sydney this past week.
With six matches set for take off kicking off on Friday evening, this round offers a number of quality match-ups with the Match of the Round taking place on Sunday as the local derby between Blacktown City v Mt Druitt Town Rangers looks set to be one game not to be missed.
APIA Leichhardt FC v Manly United FC
7pm, Friday 11th March, Lambert Park
After a wash out in their Round 1 clash against Mt Druitt, APIA Leichhardt will be looking to start their season with a show of strength against Manly United, who have a win under their belt on Friday night under lights.
A moment of brilliance from returning star Matt Sim saw Manly United secure a 1-0 defeat of Sydney Olympic in Round 1.
While the goal from Sim was the only one of the match, there was plenty of promise from all over the park for Manly, with Bruno Mendes and Jimmy Oates making the NPL NSW Men’s team of the week while Jesse Piriz also did well in the opening match.
With the advantage of momentum, Manly United will surely come out firing in this clash, but APIA Leichhardt will be eager to start their season with a big win at home.
Hoping to put their new brand of football on display under returning coach Danial Cummins will unleash a couple of new faces with the likes of Matthew Cahill, Walter Scott and Fabian Monge set to make their Lambert Park debuts.
Will APIA be able to secure a win in their first match of the season or will Manly go two from two?
Northbridge Bulls FC v Wollongong Wolves FC
12:00pm, Saturday 12th March, Sydney United Sports Centre
With both sides hoping to secure their first win of the season after Round 1 losses, this midday clash will be a big challenge for both teams.
After two red card send-offs in their first round clash against Sydney United 58, Wollongong Wolves will be missing the impact of starters Japanese-import Banri Kanaizumi and young-gun Senna Stevenson.
A strong defensive performance from goalkeeper Hayden Durose, that earned him a team of the week appearance, will work in the Wolves’ favour to fend off the young talent of the Northbridge Bulls squad.
Darcy Madden is expected to return to the fold after serving a suspension that carried over from last year while young gun Kuot Maliet who caught the attention of many in the opening match, could be one to watch out for in this match.
While they are coming off a loss to Sydney FC, Northbridge managed two goals in round one through Stephan De Robillard and captain Rory Jordan and will be hopeful they can settle into their game plan and continue to score goals this round.
Coach Mile Sterjovski is blessed with some of the best young talent in NSW with Jake Holman, Michael Ruhs and Jed Drew all hoping to spring an upset against the Wolves.
Sutherland Sharks FC v Sydney United 58 FC
3:30pm, Saturday 12th March, Seymour Shaw
Returning to Seymour Shaw for the second week in a row, Sutherland Sharks will be hoping a home-game advantage will give them an edge over a dominant Sydney United 58 outfit.
A tight and fiery clash with Marconi saw Sutherland’s Jason Madonis and James Andrew get on the scoreboard in the opening match, giving some assurance that they have plenty of potential for the upcoming season.
Madonis, who was featured in the team of the week, will be hoping to rally the Sutherland troops to take on United 58, who managed a win at home in their first round clash.
Coach Nick Dimovski is hoping for more from his new recruits Nick Sullivan, Harry Callahan and Michael Neil in a bid to thwart their opponents on Saturday.
With a 1-0 victory over a 9-man Wollongong squad, United gave a taste of what they are capable of with plenty of goal-scoring opportunities but were missing prolific goal-scorer Patrick Antlemi.
It is expected that Antelmi should return to the fold while the club continues to wait for paperwork to be finalised for their Japanese import Taisei Kaneko.
Captain Adrian Vlastelica, who netted the only goal of the match and put on a strong defensive showing, will have his squad in line to perform on the road to hopefully start a winning streak early in the season.
There was also a lot of excitement when United 58 unleashed a 16-year-old young gun in Ayouk Mow who could make a cameo appearance against the Sharks.
Will Sutherland be able to use their fresh faces to throw off Sydney United’s stable squad or will United 58 continue their winning ways?
Sydney Olympic FC v Rockdale Ilinden FC
4:00pm, Sunday 13th March, Belmore Sportsground
Both with big expectations for the season but disappointing Round 1 performances, Sydney Olympic and Rockdale Ilinden will be hoping for redemption in Round 2.
When these two clubs meet there’s always fireworks and Belmore will be the place to be as this has action packed written all over.
Hosting the match at Belmore Sportsground, Olympic will be looking to utilise new signing Roy O’Donovan after he struggled to find opportunities in Round 1 and looking to rally their team to increase the intensity.
It was great to see Hagi Gligor return to the pitch once more as he hopes his experience can spur the new boys such as Sam McIIIhatton and Mathieu Cordier on Sunday.
After falling to a nine-man Blacktown City squad, Rockdale will be hoping for a big win over their rivals to prove that they are true contenders for the Premiership this season.
Despite having a number of fresh faces, it was experienced defender Mitchell Stamatellis who impressed in Round 1, securing a team of the week appearance after a strong performance.
With many attacking weapons in their arsenal such as Alec Urosevski, Tomoki Wada, Bai Antoniou and Jaden Casella to name a few, Zoric and the Ilinden fans know that if these players turn it on, it will be a sight to see.
With a lot on the line in this rivalry, it will surely be an exciting match worth watching.
Blacktown City FC v Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC
5:00pm, Sunday 13th March, Blacktown City Sports Centre
After a huge Round 1 victory over Rockdale Ilinden with just nine men, Blacktown City have already given NPL NSW Men’s fans a taste of their capability for the upcoming season, and when they match up against Mt Druitt in the local derby, it will be back to business despite missing Jackson Bandeira and skipper Matt Lewis.
With the single goal of Blacktown’s opening match coming very early through Japanese import Hiroaki Aoyama, there’s plenty of scope for the hosts’ other attackers to make their mark in Round 2.
One huge story that came out of round 1 was the debut of rising young keeper Alex Robinson.
The 16-year-old showed maturity beyond his years as he takes his opportunity following the injury to Tristan Prendergast who is recovering from a shoulder operation.
Having missed their first match due to the wild weather, Mt Druitt will be itching to take to the field in the local rivalry.
With a fresh take on their playing strategy, the Rangers will likely show off new signings Diogo Barbosa, Louis Khoury and Matthew Symes in the match, hoping to rattle a stable Blacktown squad to take three points from the match.
With a deep squad, the loss of two starters will likely do little to the strong City squad, but it’s anyone’s game in this Sunday evening match-up.
Sydney FC v Marconi Stallions FC
6:30pm, Sunday 13th March, Rockdale Iinden Sports Centre
The final match of the round will see Sydney FC and Marconi Stallions match up at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre.
With Round 1 wins for both teams, it will be interesting to see how the two back up in the second round as they look to continue the goal-scoring they managed in their openers.
Attackers from both teams featured in Round 1’s team of the week with Charles Lokolingoy and Jaiden Kucharski netting doubles in their respective matches, while Sydney FC’s Clayton Taylor and Marconi’s Connor Evans also featured in the team after impressive performances in their midfields.
Both hoping to secure back-to-back wins, it will be a challenge for a technically talented Sydney FC side to match up against the physical and experienced Marconi squad, who are now bolstered with the attacking prowess they lacked last season.
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