It is Round 18 and the finish line is in sight with only five rounds to go in the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s competition.
While Blacktown City look odds on to clinch the Premiership, the battle for the remaining four playoff spots looks set to go down to the wire.
Finals spots are well and truly on the line this weekend, headlined by the Match Of The Round which sees a surging Rockdale City Suns host an in-form Manly United outfit on Sunday afternoon at Ilinden Sports Centre at 3pm.
Meanwhile, our cameras head down to Hensley Athletic Field on Saturday night to LIVE STREAM the clash between recently-crowned Waratah Cup champions Hakoah Sydney City East and Wollongong Wolves from 6:55pm, so make sure to check it out!
Rockdale City Suns v Manly United FC, 3pm Sunday at Ilinden Sports Centre
Third placed Rockdale City Suns will be out to put the pressure on the competition’s top two sides with a win against Manly United FC on Sunday.
Paul Reid’s side has returned to form in recent weeks to sit only two points behind second placed APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Rockdale boasts the league’s leading goal scorer in Jordan Figon and he will be hoping to increase his tally on Sunday.
Manly come into this match in fifth position with a three-point lead ahead of Sydney United 58 FC.
United has struggled to find consistent results this season but will need to change that trend if they are to cling onto the final qualifying spot for the playoffs.
Both teams have plenty of firepower and quality across the park so expect this to be an entertaining matchup for the fans.
Sutherland Sharks FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC, 6.30pm at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks will be determined to put their heartbreaking round 17 loss behind them when they take on Bonnyrigg White Eagles on Saturday.
The Grant Lee coached side led 2-0 against Rockdale last round before conceding five unanswered goals in the second half to lose 5-2.
Against fellow competition strugglers Bonnyrigg White Eagles, Sutherland will be expecting nothing less than a win.
They will have to do so without star player Tomohiro Kajiyama who was sent off against Rockdale.
Despite an improved showing in the second half of the season, Bonnyrigg has failed to discover any consistency.
With five rounds to play a win would help the White Eagles finish their season on a high.
Hakoah Sydney City East FC v Wollongong Wolves, 7pm Hensley Athletic Field
Waratah Cup champions Hakoah Sydney City East will be hoping to bring their incredible cup form to the league when they host Wollongong Wolves on Saturday.
Hakoah is riding high from their historic victory and will be full of confidence going into their Round 18 matchup.
Striker Andre de Jong and goalkeeper Anthony Bouzanis are in top form and will provide a challenge for Wollongong at both ends of the field.
Victory for the Wolves is vital if they want to keep their slim finals hopes alive.
The Jacob Timpano coached side are five points behind fifth placed Manly United and will almost need to win out the rest of their matches if they are to snatch finals qualification.
Wollongong have the players to mount a challenge and will be giving it their all on Saturday.
With so much on the line this match could be a real blockbuster.
Blacktown City FC v Sydney Olympic FC, 3pm Sunday at Lily’s Football Centre
League leaders Blacktown City hosts fourth placed Sydney Olympic on Sunday in a match which could have major implications on the shape of the top five at the end of the regular season.
A loss for Olympic could see them fall out of the finals placings if results go against them
Blacktown have been almost unstoppable this year with only one loss from 17 matches.
Despite the season ending injury of Danny Choi, Mark Crittenden’s City side have set the bar for the rest of the competition.
The strike force of James Andrew, Joey Gibbs and Mitch Mallia have been a consistent source of goals for City and with the form they are in it is surely set to continue.
Sydney Olympic’s new coach Gorka Etxeberria will have a challenge on his hands as he tries to rediscover the killer instinct his team has lacked in recent weeks.
Blacktown will be hard to stop but with so much on the line can Olympic spring an upset?
Sydney United 58 FC v Sydney FC, 4pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
The finals are in reach for Sydney United 58 but competition newcomers Sydney FC will be4 out to make the Reds top five ambitions all the more difficult when they face off on Sunday.
United 58 were unlucky to come away from their Round 17 clash in Wollongong without a point and will need to bounce back quickly against a difficult young Sky Blues team.
The Reds have lacked the winning edge they displayed during their incredible run of victories from earlier in the season and have been let down by momentary lapses and poor finishing.
Panny Nikas as settled back into his spot in the line-up while striker Chris Payne will hope to be the source of goals United 58 are desperate for.
While the finals are out of reach for Sydney FC they will be hoping to continue the form which helped them upset APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Games featuring the young Sky Blues are always ones for the fans and this clash shouldn’t be any different.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC v Parramatta FC, 4.45pm at Lambert Park
Spurred on by the hurt of their Waratah Cup final loss, APIA Leichhardt Tigers will be fired up to return to the winner’s circle when they host Parramatta FC on Sunday.
It has been two tough defeats in a row for APIA with last week’s shock Waratah Cup loss sure to cut deep.
A matchup with the competition’s bottom team couldn’t come at a better time and Danial Cummins and his players will not be holding back.
The tigers have been let down by poor finishing during their last two defeats despite dominating both matches. The pressure will be on strikers Jordan Murray, Matthew West and Tasuku Sekiya to find their shooting boots.
Parramatta will have aspirations of fighting their way off the bottom of the table before the end of the season and an upset win against APIA would be a great way to make it a reality.
Marshall Soper’s side frustrated Blacktown last round and if they can hold their nerve for 90 minutes a win could be on the cards.