The National Premier Leagues NSW men’s competition is closing in on the halfway point of the season as we enter Round ten this weekend.
Rockdale remains the competition leaders, but the gap is closing with second-placed Blacktown City in close pursuit only two points back.
This weekend’s matches get underway on Saturday with Sutherland Sharks playing host to Sydney Olympic FC.
Three more games will take place on Saturday as Blacktown travels to Marconi, Mt Druitt is at home against Rockdale, and Northbridge gets a visit from APIA.
The round wraps up on Sunday with two games, starting with Sydney United 58 facing off against Manly United.
Sydney FC closes out the weekend’s fixtures at home against Wollongong Wolves on Sunday night.
Remember, you can catch all the action live on NPL.TV.
Sutherland Sharks v Sydney Olympic, 3.30pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw Park
Sutherland Sharks will be playing for back-to-back wins as they host Sydney Olympic at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday.
The Sharks stunned Manly United last round with a 1-0 win away from home and determined to carry on the momentum against Olympic.
The victory was only the Sharks second of the season, and coach Nick Dimovski will be encouraging his players to make the most of the positive vibes around the club going into this clash.
James Andrew added to his tally with a well-taken penalty to make it seven goals for the season.
It was another vintage display from Chris McStay in the centre of the park, which will again be the centre point of the Sharks midfield against Olympic.
The Sharks will need to back up quickly after playing 120 minutes of midweek football following its 1-0 FFA Cup Round 5 loss to the Marconi Stallions.
They will be up against an Olympic team riding high after a win in round nine.
The Ante Juric coached side snagged a 2-1 win against Northbridge Bulls, coming from behind after second-half goals from Mo Adam and Jason Madonis.
Jason Madonis has been in good goalscoring form in recent weeks and has three goals so far this campaign.
Tom Whiteside found himself in the team of the week after a strong display at the back while keeper Chris Parsons has done well underneath the sticks.
Oliver Pufflet is hoping he can open his goalscoring tally with his new club. The peroxide hair attacker has been a menace for the Blues up-front.
In the sixth position, Olympic needs to keep up the winning ways to keep their finals hopes intact coming into the middle point of the season.
Olympic will be the favourites on the road, but Sutherland are no easy beats and will not want anything less than a win in front of their home fans.
Marconi Stallions v Blacktown City, 6pm Saturday at Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions will be out to stop an in-form Blacktown City this Saturday when the two sides face off at Marconi Stadium.
The Stallions come into this match on the back of a 2-0 loss last week against Mt Druitt Town Rangers and have not won a match in five weeks.
The Peter Tsekenis coached side have lacked a winning edge this season with six draws and only one win from their nine matches.
Goals are needed by the Stallions, who have only scored once in their past three games.
Attacking players Anthony Frangie, Mitch Mallia, Marko Jesic and Emmanuel Peters need to find their scoring touch if their team ends their run without a win.
They did receive some joy however midweek after defeating the Sutherland Sharks 1-0 after extra time thanks to a Martin Fernandez goal in Round 5 of the FFA Cup.
Looking to stop them is a red-hot Blacktown City team that has had far from any issues scoring goals.
A 3-0 victory against Sydney FC last week and a 5-0 win against Wollongong in round eight has helped City climb to second on the ladder and only two points behind competition leaders Rockdale.
Travis Major is in top form for Blacktown, scoring goals at will, while Mario Shabow and Suleyman Bangura have also been impressive in front of the goal.
Defensively Blacktown has also found their rhythm with two consecutive clean sheets, a great sign from shot-stopper Tristan Pendergrast, and defenders Daniel Collins and Grant Lynch.
Coach Mark Crittenden has gotten this team humming.
Matches between these two sides have had a bit of extra feeling in recent seasons, and this one will be no different.
Blacktown will go in as favourites but expect nothing less than a determined performance from Marconi as they set out to end their winless streak.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC v Rockdale Ilinden FC, 7pm Saturday at Popendetta Park
Mt Druitt Town Rangers will be determined to cement their position in the top five with a win against league leaders Rockdale Ilinden this Saturday night at Popondetta Park.
The Rangers 2-0 win against Marconi Stallions last round moved them into the fifth position on 15 points, only three behind Rockdale at the summit of the ladder.
After an inconsistent run of results, Mt Druitt has found their mojo, winning three of their past four matches.
Jack Stewart was again a key contributor up top, and his ability to change a game could be the difference this week. He has figured in a number of ‘Team of the Week’ nominations and has been one of the in-form players of the 2021 competition.
However, it is at the back where the Rangers are really finding their feet conceding only one goal in their past four games.
Tarek Elrich and Travis Oughtred have been a rock at the back while club captain Carlos Saliadarre continues his incredible form between the sticks.
Rockdale will be a completely different type of challenge, and the reigning premiers will be determined to take all three points.
A scoreless draw against Sydney United 58 was a hard-earned point for Rockdale in round nine and continued a run of four games unbeaten.
Alec Urosevski and Tomoki Wada were unable to break down United 58 and will be driven to double down their efforts this time around.
Defender Banri Kanazumi was another strong performer last week and is sure to face plenty of pressure from a tricky Rangers attack.
Rockdale’s lead at the top of the competition is shrinking, and three points is needed to keep their premiership rivals at arms distance.
This game has all the ingredients for a thrilling contest and is one you won’t want to miss.
Northbridge Bulls v APIA Leichhardt FC, 7pm Saturday at Sydney United Sports Centre
Northbridge Bulls will be out to stop a resurgent APIA Leichhardt when the two sides face off at Sydney United Sports Centre this Saturday night.
It has been tough going for The Bulls in recent weeks as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sydney Olympic last round.
It was a third consecutive loss for Northbridge, who have struggled to build from their incredible 5-1 victory over Sydney United 58 in week six.
Coach Mile Sterjovski will be pushing his young side to find another level as they battle to fight their way out of their funk.
Jake Holman was a standout player despite the loss last week, scoring the Bulls only goal.
They will be up against an APIA side that has climbed from the bottom of the table with back-to-back wins.
It has been a brilliant reversal of form by the Paul Dee coached side, and they’ll be driven to keep their winning run alive.
The Inner West club has come to life since Dee’s arrival as results have picked up ten-fold.
The signing of former A-League striker Corey Gameiro gives Dee another high-profile attacking option as APIA fight to get back into the finals race.
Gameiro made his debut in the club’s 2-1 FFA Cup Round 5 victory over the Bonnyrigg White Eagles midweek.
Once again one of the club’s most consistent players in 2021 has been Mathieu Cordier. The former Wanderer has been in great form and his engines will be one to watch out for as will the electric pace of Will Mutch.
Experienced keeper Ivan Necevski has rallied his troops with his backline slowly settling once more.
APIA will be favourites for this clash, but it is a result that could easily be the Bulls for the taking.
Sydney United 58 v Manly United FC, 3pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 will be out to end their winless run when they host Manly United at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday.
After a rampaging start to the season, United 58 have hit the skids hard, going without a win for six straight weeks.
A 0-0 draw with Rockdale was their third consecutive scoreless stalemate with the free-scoring ways of the opening round well and truly in the past.
Coach Tomi Vidovic has a big task ahead of him to reignite his stuttering attack, which has found the back of the net only once in six weeks.
Chris Payne’s continued suspension and a serious injury to Antony Tomelic has stretched United 58’s squad depth, but they still have plenty of players capable of leading the team to victory.
A vintage Glen Trifiro display against Rockdale was a positive sign for United 58, and they’ll be learning on the veteran midfielder again this week.
Patrick Antelmi will also be one to watch out for as the ace marksman hopes to rattle the back of the net once more since returning from injury two weeks ago.
They take on a Manly United side who have also slowed down after a fast start to the campaign.
A win and two losses from their past three games meant Manly slid down the table after taking top spot earlier this season.
Coach Adam Griffiths will demand a much-improved performance, especially after going down 1-0 to Sutherland last round.
Seiya Kambayashi has been in good form, becoming somewhat of a late-game specialist with two injury-time goals this season.
This game is important to the premiership hopes of both sides and will be one you won’t want to miss.
Sydney FC v Wollongong Wolves FC, 6.30pm Sunday at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre
Sydney FC is determined to climb off the bottom of the ladder, starting with a win against Wollongong Wolves at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday.
The Young Sky Blues have had a horror run of results and haven’t tasted victory since round three.
A 3-0 loss at the hands of Blacktown City was the Jim van Weeren coached side’s most recent defeat.
Tom Fay and Patrick Yazbek had bright moments in the first half of that clash, but a poor second stanza from the side proved costly.
Clayton Taylor also had a few good plays for the Young Sky Blues.
They will need a much-improved performance if they are going to beat Wollongong Wolves.
However, the Wolves have had their own struggles and have won only once in their past five games.
The Luke Wilkshire coached side suffered a 2-1 loss to APIA last week with Lachlan Scott, their lone goal scorer.
A shake-up of the starting line-up last week did not reap the results Wilkshire would’ve hoped.
Leroy Jennings was returned to the starting side last week, and the high-profile signing will need to deliver on his potential if he is given another chance is the first eleven.
Keeper Hayden Durose has had a sound year thus far and is sure to be tested once more come Sunday.
The club has parted company with Kiwi Van Elia but the imminent return of former Gold Medal winner Thomas James in a few weeks time from a long-term suspension will be something Wilkshire and the Wolves squad cannot wait to see.
It is set to be an evenly matched contest with pressure on both sides to take all three points.