NSW NPL set for cracking finish

You might never find another football season with so much riding on the final round for so many clubs.

You might never find another football season with so much riding on the final round for so many clubs.

The NSW Premier League title, finals positions, relegation battle and golden boot award all hinge on this week-s matches.

The title race is to be fought out by the Sutherland Sharks (1st on 44 points), Bonnyrigg White Eagles (2nd on 43 points) and Sydney United 58 FC (3rd on 42 points) who are all a great shot of claiming what they have been craving since the first ball was kicked six months ago.

To add another element of intrigue to the title race is the fact that Sydney United have yet to have been awarded three points for a win earlier in the year after they played an unregistered Liam Reddy in goals for one match, a matter likely to be resolved after all is said and done on Sunday afternoon.

There are also three teams in Rockdale City Suns (4th on 36 points), Blacktown City FC (5th on 35 points) and Marconi Stallions FC (6th on 34 points) vying for two finals positions, with Rockdale City and Marconi set to be involved in matches that will also decide the league title.

In pole position for league honours are the Sutherland Sharks who could only manage a draw against Manly United over the weekend but know a win away to Rockdale City Suns will have them finishing top at least for the time being.

The Sharks will be looking to put in a better performance than the one that saw them claim a 2-2 home draw earlier in the season against Rockdale if they are to remain on top but know that their opponents need a result to book their finals spot.

“It is clear now that if we want to finish first than we have to win,” said Sharks coach Robbie Stanton.

“We tried to close it out last week but had five players out so there will be no holding back from us this week.

“Rockdale are a great side that are well organised under Branko (Culina) and need a point to secure the finals spot. There is so much happening in this final week - it is no doubt the best end to a season in the history of the NPL.”

Next on the list are Bonnyrigg White Eagles who are at home to another finals contender in Marconi and will draw confidence from having beaten the Stallions on their home turf 2-0 midway through the season.

Finally, Sydney United are not counting themselves out of the title race just yet and on top of their match this week could either gain the three points that are still pending or be docked points as a result of the Reddy issue.

United play the lowest placed team out of the three contenders, ninth placed Blacktown Spartans FC, but could only manage a 0-0 home draw with their final round combatants earlier in the season.

"We are going to fight hard for the three points that are still pending but this is not going to change how we prepare for this week," said coach Mark Rudan.

"The Spartans have nothing to play for which is dangerous for us as they can come out and play off the cuff football.

"We played three games in seven days last week but we know what we have to do this week in order to give ourselves the best chance possible (at claiming the league)."

On top of these critical clashes, fifth placed Blacktown City FC play at home to Manly United FC, a team they beat 3-0 at home in May and will be hoping to get the victory and ensure they're playing finals football in 2013.

At the other end of the table APIA Leichardt Tigers, South Coast Wolves and the Central Coast Mariners have a desperate battle to remain in the top flight of NSW football.

The Tigers and Wolves played out a 1-1 draw last week to see APIA (11 points) remain two points behind South Coast (13 points) with the Mariners a further point ahead (14 points).

APIA take on seventh placed Sydney Olympic FC away and having only had one win in the league all year appear to be the most likely to face relegation.

The Wolves and the Mariners take on one another and both will be hoping to grab the win and avoid having to wait for other results to go their way.

The final intriguing battle of the weekend comes in determining the league-s top scorer with the top four teams featuring the four contenders for the award.

Sutherland-s Panny Nikas leads the race with 15 goals in his 20 matches this season, but hunting him down are Bonnyrigg-s Robert Younis with 14 goals in 19 matches and Sydney United-s Luka Glavas scoring a goal a game to have 14 in 14 matches.

The Sharks opponents for the final weekend feature the final golden boot contender with Rockdale-s Richard Cardozo also on 14 goals and a realistic shot at claiming the coveted award.

“If any of the three or four players hit their straps this weekend than they can claim the award,” said Sharks coach Stanton.

“Panny has managed to take a one goal lead into the final week which is an amazing feat considering he is the only one of the four in the running to be playing in the midfield.”

Check out where all the action is going down this weekend here: http://ffaus.co/19pd61f

Year Premiers Champions 2005 Blacktown City Bonnyrigg White Eagles  2006 Blacktown City Blacktown City 2007 Blacktown City Blacktown City 2008 Sutherland Sharks Wollongong Wolves 2009 Sydney United Sutherland Sharks 2010 Bonnyrigg White Eagles Blacktown City 2011 Sydney Olympic Sydney Olympic 2012 Bonnyrigg White Eagles Marconi Stallions