NPL NSW Men's - Round 5 Review

Another massive round of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition is in the books with Week 5 of the rebooted season delivering another weekend of thrilling matches.

Sydney FC leads the competition after five rounds after yet another impressive victory.

The Young Sky Blues have been the big story since the season restart with the Jim van Weeran coached outfit flying high with their fourth win of the campaign.

APIA Leichhardt and Blacktown City’s struggles continued this weekend as both slumped to frustrating results yet again.

Rockdale Ilinden and Sydney Olympic both missed an opportunity to go top of the table while Marconi showed off their potent attack on Friday night.

With only six weeks to go the battle for finals football is heating up, and if this round’s matches are anything to go by, it is sure to go down to the wire.

APIA Leichhardt 0 – North Shore Mariners 0 at Lambert Park

A second-half surge was not enough for APIA Leichhardt as they were held to a scoreless stalemate by a 10-man North Shore Mariners on Friday.

It was yet another frustrating result for the reigning champions who were unable to secure victory against lower-ranked opposition for yet another week. 

It was the Mariners who had the best of the opening exchanges with Mitchell Smith’s shot over the bar one of a handful of goal scoring chances for the visitors.

Ten minutes before the interval Franco Parisi spurned a brilliant opportunity when he fired a curling effort narrowly wide of the post from only nine yards out.

APIA picked up the pace after the break with Chris Payne and Sean Symons testing the keeping with long-range efforts.

Zac Sfiligoi was given his marching orders by the referee when he took down Parisi on the edge of the penalty area with the Mariners reduced to ten for the final 20 minutes.

Dom Nasrabadi had one final chance to snatch victory for the home side when he shot wide of an empty net during added time which he should have finished off.

The result means APIA finished the round lingering in ninth place on four points, while North Shore Mariners sit in last place on two points.

Blacktown City 0 – Marconi Stallions 3 (Frangie 11′, Jesic 42′, Fernandez 70′) at Lily Homes Stadium

Marconi Stallions crashed Blacktown City’s party as they cruised to a dominant 3-0 win at Lily Homes Stadium on Friday night.

It was supposed to be a night of celebration for Blacktown captain Matt Lewis who broke the club appearance record in what was his 305th appearance for the Seven Hills-based outfit.

However, coach Peter Tsekenis’ men didn’t get the memo easing to victory in a scintillating performance.

The Stallions unleashed an attacking onslaught from the opening whistle with Shaun Catlin forced to make two early saves to deny Anthony Frangie and Marco Jesic.

However, Marconi would soon take the lead with Frangie heading home from close range from a corner kick in the 11th minute.

Jesic would find the back of the net in style in the dying seconds of the first half as the former A-League striker volleyed off the turn to find the top corner.

It was one-way traffic in the second half from Marconi with Blacktown struggling to slow down their opponents.

The fans witnessed a moment of pure brilliance in the 70th minute as Martin Fernandez scored a sublime solo effort.

The mercurial midfielder dribbled past four defenders after picking the ball up on halfway before he sidefooted the ball across the keeper and into the net.

Lewis had a chance to score a consolation goal during his milestone match, but Nenad Vekic saved his penalty effort in the 75th minute as Marconi held on for the victory.

Sydney FC 2 (Saracino 44′, Wood 53′) – Manly United 1 (Kmet 85′) at Cromer Park

A determined Sydney FC has claimed their fourth win in five weeks with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Manly United at Cromer Park.

Goals either side of the half from Patrick Wood and Antonio Saracino were enough for the win as the Young Sky Blues held off a fast-finishing Manly outfit.

The Northern Beaches based side, under the tutelage of Former Socceroos defender Adam Griffiths in his first match as coach, started with intent with Sydney gloveman Levi Kaye forced to make diving saves to deny shots from Scott Balderson and James Georgaklis.

But it was Sydney FC who would make the breakthrough with Saracino tapping home after a brilliant run and past from Jaiden Kucharski.

They kept the pressure on after the break with Patrick Wood doubling the lead only seven minutes into the second stanza with a powerful shot from inside the penalty area.

Manly was determined to fight their way back into the contest and managed to halve the deficit with five minutes left to play courtesy of a composed finish from Luca Kmet.

Griffiths side pushed hard for an equaliser, but it wasn’t to be as Sydney FC held on for all three points.

Mt Druitt Town Rangers 3 (Stewart 19′, 93′, Monahan-Vaiika 69′) v Western Sydney 1 (Constable 7′)

A Jack Stewart brace has helped Mt Druitt Town Rangers claim local bragging rights with a 3-1 win against local rivals Western Sydney Wanderers at Popondetta Park on Saturday night.

It was the Rangers second consecutive win and an impressive return to form against an energetic Wanderers side. 

Western Sydney made a fast start to the match with Lochlan Constable firing past Rangers shot-stopper Carlos Saliadarre only seven minutes into the game.

It took the home side 13 minutes to hit back when Stewart scored with a low curling effort from outside the penalty area. 

Constable nearly had a double just before the break, but Saliadarre stopped his rasping drive from range. 

The game deadlocked after the interval with both sides battling in midfield.

A quick-thinking Solomon-Johnn Monahan Vaiika tapped home at the back post for the Rangers midway through the second half to give Mt Druitt the upper hand.

The home side grew in strength as the game wore on holding off the Wanderers efforts for an equaliser. 

Stewart wrapped up the contest in the dying seconds of the match with a cool finish to secure a confidence-boosting win for Mt Druitt.

Sydney Olympic FC 0 – Rockdale Ilinden 0 at Lambert Park

Rockdale Ilinden has held on to claim a point in a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Sydney Olympic at Lambert Park on Sunday. 

It was Rockdale’s fifth clean sheet in as many games as the Steven Zoric coached side kept their unbeaten start to the rebooted season alive against a talented Olympic outfit.

Neither side was giving much away in what was a battle of the league’s powerhouse teams. 

Rockdale defender Brayden Sorge had the best chance of the first half when he forced a brilliant save from Olympic shot-stopper Nicholas Sorras. 

Olympic hit back after the interval, and they pushed to be the first side to score against Rockdale since the competition restart.

A Nikola Kuleski free-kick should’ve been the breakthrough, but David Bradasevic’s incredible diving save kept the match scoreless.

Chances to Olympic duo Adam Parkhouse and Tom Whiteside had the Rockdale defence on its toes but their bend but don’t break methodology was working wonders. 

In the 85th minute, Fabio Ferreira dribbled through the Rockdale defence but fired over the bar from only ten yards out in what was the game’s best chance.

It would prove to be the home side’s final opportunity with both sides taking home a point with the game finishing scoreless.

Sydney United 58 3 (Macdonald 33′, Antelmi 44′, 58′) – Wollongong Wolves 1 (Juach 69′) at Sydney United Sport centre.

The return of star striker Patrick Antelim has inspired Sydney United 58 to a 3-1 win against Wollongong Wolves at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday.

Fresh from a maiden A-League stint with Western United, Antelmi was at his clinical best in his Sydney United return scoring twice to guide the Zjelko Kalac coached side to victory.

It was a brilliant bounce-back performance from United 58 who took the lead in the 33rd minute through Joshua Macdonald after a fast-paced opening to the match.

Antelmi claimed his first of the contest on the cusp of the half-time break to stretch Sydney United into a 2-0 break at the interval. 

The striker had a taste for goals and doubled his tally in the 58th minute when he tapped home at the far post after breaking free of his marker.

Wollongong managed to break through the United 58 defence 20 minutes from time when a determined Bul Juach put his body on the line to bundle the ball over the line.

However, the goal came at a cost with the Wolves rising star carried from the field on a stretcher sustaining a severe injury after colliding with United keeper Thomas Manos. 

Wollongong tried to find their way back into the match, but it wasn’t to be as United 58 held on for all three points.