Penultimate round promises plenty

WITH two rounds to go it is still anyone's guess who will finish where, as season 2014 goes down to the wire.

It is welcome drama for the neutrals, but for the teams involved it will be a nervy final 180 minutes of action as we head towards the finals. 


Sydney Olympic v Rockdale City Suns, 3pm Sunday at Belmore Sports Ground

Sydney Olympic's semi final destiny is in their own hands as they sit fifth, three points clear of sixth placed Sutherland Sharks. 

A win over Rockdale City would see them leap frog the Suns into fourth place, but a win for Branko Culina's side would see Olympic fall back into the clutches of the Sharks, especially if they can topple Bonnyrigg White Eagles.

Rockdale City travel to Belmore in fine form, having beaten Blacktown City two weeks ago and comprehensively beaten their local rivals Sutherland last week.

Paul Reid put on a masterclass in midfield that day and has shown that the ability to dictate the tempo never leaves you, even if the legs are moving a little slower. 

It was that Rockdale win that allowed Olympic to take control of fifth place, as they beat Manly United for the second time in a week, 3-1, to give themselves a three point buffer over their rivals from the Shire. 


Round 21 Preview

Manly United v St George, 7.30pm Saturday at Cromer Park

It is the battle of the bottom two at Cromer Park as Manly (18 points) host St George (16 points). 

St George clawed their way back to within two points of Manly with their win in Wollongong against South Coast Wolves last week and it was a win they desperately needed. 

They are in dire need of as many points as they can muster in the final few weeks and will fancy themselves as a fighting chance of overturning Manly. 

Paul Dee's side have been led by talented assistant coach Jim Van Weeren for their past two games with Dee away for business. 

They will be keen to bounce back from their two losses to Olympic and in Chris Payne they possess the most dangerous player on the park. 


Blacktown City v Sydney United 58 FC, 7.30pm Saturday at Lilys Football Centre

Blacktown City's back-to-back slip ups against Rockdale City Suns and Bonnyrigg White Eagles has seen them fall to third, one point behind the White Eagles and three behind Blacktown Spartans.

They need to recover with a win at home to Sydney United 58 to keep themselves in the mix for the final round, but one feels that consecutive losses at this stage of the season could be a fatal blow. 

United moved up to seventh with their win last weekend. They won 3-0 against an APIA-Leichhardt Tigers team that, at times, looked more concerned about their headline friendly in midweek against Western Sydney Wanderers.

Blacktown City will obviously be a far sterner test for United, who will hope to take enough points from the final two games to finish at the top of the second group of teams in the competition. 


Sutherland Sharks v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 7.30pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw Park

Sutherland Sharks have it all to do if they are to claim fifth place and the final spot in the semi finals. They are three points in arrears of Sydney Olympic and if they win and Sutherland lose, it will be all over for Robbie Stanton's side.

So to that end, this is a must win fixture for the Sharks, but opposition doesn't come much tougher than Bonnyrigg, who have shown their consistency all season to now be sitting only a point behind Blacktown Spartans.

Bonnyrigg's win in the match of the round last week against Blacktown City sees them perfectly poised to capitalise on any slip up by Spartans and they will head to Seymour Shaw full of confidence. 

They have the pace, power and goals to do the job, but Sutherland will be desperate to find the spark to keep their season alive.


South Coast Wolves v Marconi Stallions, 3pm Sunday at WIN Stadium

South Coast Wolves have gone off the boil a little in the past two weeks, losing to Manly United and St George in the past fortnight. 

It is a dip that will disappoint Nahuel Arrarte, after the spectacular form the Wolves had shown previous to the last fortnight.

A strong finish could still get them a seventh placed finish, which would be a remarkable recovery from their early season struggles. 

Marconi are a point ahead of Wolves and have been there and thereabouts all season, without ever really threatening the top five. 

They have the experienced James Chronopoulos in goal, but it is an inexperienced side on the whole and one which will be much better for this season of NPL action. 


APIA-Leichhardt Tigers v Blacktown Spartans, 5pm Sunday at Lambert Park

APIA looked like they had one-eye on their friendly with Western Sydney Wanderers as they went down 3-0 to Sydney United 58 last weekend.

They played well in the friendly, going down 1-0 to an early set piece goal, but it beggars the question as to where that type of performance has been when points are on the line.

Brad Bartels has been a revelation at centre back in recent weeks and Blake Powell's work rate up front is superb. APIA were the first team to beat Spartans this season, on a night where Powell scored twice, so he and APIA will hope that lightning strikes twice on Sunday.

Spartans though have the premiership in their own hands and a win here could see them wrap it up if results go their way. It is far more likely that they will need a result in the final round though, so they will be looking for all three points here to keep their noses in front.

More information about the competitions can be found at