Two weeks is a long time in football. Just ask the newly crowned Waratah Cup champions, Sydney United 58.
Before their PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 round 16 win against Parramatta FC, United had lost fours games in a row – conceding 15 goals in the process - and looked to be heading for a disastrous end of the season without finals.
Fast forward two weeks and Mark Rudan’s men are right back in the finals hunt heading into round 17, Waratah Cup champions and raring to go against their fierce rivals, Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
Elsewhere, Blacktown City will look to get back to winning ways after its crushing Waratah Cup final loss and cement its spot on top of the ladder when it welcomes Rockdale City Suns to Lily’s Football Centre.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
Sydney United 58 FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC, 1.30 pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
There certainly is not any love lost between Sydney United 58 FC and Bonnyrigg White Eagles, and this is a game that hardly needs an introduction.
United currently has the bragging rights over their fierce rivals, having defeated the White Eagles 3-1 in round six.
It’s Bonnyrigg that has the higher standing on the table, though, having strung together five games without a loss.
The White Eagles have had no problem finding the back of the net in that time, scoring 11 goals in those five matches, including three last time out in a highly entertaining 3-2 win over Sutherland Sharks.
United might have kept Blacktown City FC at bay in the Waratah Cup final last weekend, but it has conceded 16 goals in its last five league games.
A cup final win and clean sheet to boot will have surely inspired some much-needed confidence in Mark Rudan’s side and his charges won’t need any extra motivation come Sunday afternoon.
The free scoring White Eagles will be eager to put an immediate dampener on United’s cup celebrations and with nine goals to his name already, Bonnyrigg’s Robert Younis will certainly be hoping to send his tally into the double figures in one of his side’s biggest games to date.
ROUND 17 PREVIEW
Sutherland Sharks FC v APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC, 7.30 pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw
Seymour Shaw rarely disappoints on a Saturday night, and the round’s best viewing might just come from the home of the Sutherland Sharks when they welcome APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC.
The second-placed Tigers are just three points off ladder leaders Blacktown City and will be hopeful of matching the three points City managed to take from Seymour Shaw Park back in round 11.
That was the only time this season the Sharks have been held goalless at home, and the Tigers might require a similar defensive effort on Saturday night.
The Tigers edged out the Sharks in round six, winning 2-1, since when Leichhardt has not lost.
Sydney Olympic FC v Manly United FC, 3.00 pm Sunday at Belmore Sports Ground
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Sydney Olympic FC.
Undefeated in its first eight league games, Olympic has taken just seven points from its following eight games, meaning its finals prospects now look considerably less secure.
2015 has been something of a struggle for Manly United, but a comprehensive 4-1 win over strugglers Marconi Stallions will provide Manly with a desperately needed injection of confidence.
Brendan Cholakian and Chris Payne have had little trouble finding the back of the net, with 16 goals between them, and they will need to be at their lethal best for Manly to take the points from Belmore Sports Ground.
Blacktown Spartans FC v Marconi Stallions, 3.00 pm Sunday at Blacktown Football Park
Blacktown Spartans will hope to continue its remarkable charge up the table when it welcomes luckless Marconi to Blacktown Football Park.
The Spartans are on fire at the moment, with four wins from their last four games.
The 12-point haul has seen the Spartans reach sixth place on the table and with just three points between themselves and fifth-placed Sydney United 58 FC, they have finals in their sights.
Marconi will have to produce one of their best performances off the season to have any hope of halting the Spartans and after four consecutive losses and 13 goals conceded, the Stallions look bereft of confidence and form.
Blacktown City FC v Rockdale City Suns, 3.00 pm Sunday at Lilys Football Centre
How do you get over a heart-breaking Waratah Cup final loss?
Three points and remaining at the top of the table is a good start.
That will be the goal for Blacktown City FC when it resumes its league campaign against Rockdale City Suns on Sunday.
That is easier said than done, however, with the Suns enjoying its best run of results this season.
Last round’s 2-1 victory over Sydney Olympic was the Suns’ third in a row, with Alec Urosevski particularly potent in front of goal recently, while former A-League star Dylan Macallister will be hungry for his first goal in a Rockdale City shirt.
Blacktown, on the other hand, has taken just two points from its last two games, but remain undefeated in eight games.
These two sides shared the points in round six following a 1-1 draw.
South Coast Wolves FC v Parramatta FC, 3.00 pm Sunday at WIN Stadium
Sunday’s showdown between South Coast Wolves and Parramatta could be a season defining one for both sides.
With both the Wolves and the Eagles at the wrong end of the table, three points are priceless no matter where they come from, but both sides will be approaching this game as a must-win.
To the Eagles’ credit, their performances over the last three rounds have merited more than the zero points they have accrued, much to coach Franco Consentino’s frustration.
For the South Coast Wolves, the last month has been slightly more profitable, particularly at home.Strong wins over Sutherland Sharks and Sydney United 58 in Wollongong will give the Wolves plenty to be positive ahead of the Eagles’ visit.