Round 23 Preview – PS4 NPL 3 NSW Men’s

09.08.2017

There are only four weeks of the 2017 PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition remaining, with upcoming objectives divided into three clear categories.

The battle for the Premiership will go down to the wire, with Rydalmere Lions and Fraser Park having contested supremacy all season. With Rydalmere five points ahead on the first grade table, and 17 points in front in the Club Championship, Fraser Park will look to win their games in hand and take both these titles right down to the last kick of the season proper.

Below the two at the summit, six does not go in to four, as St George City FA, Dulwich Hill, SD Raiders, Hawkesbury City, Gladesville Ryde Magic, and Sydney University will all be keen to snare one of the four remaining Top Six Finals’ positions.

At the base of the competition ladder, Balmain Tigers improved performances of late have seen them creep a little closer to those few clubs above them, and they hold hopes of avoiding the wooden spoon if they can continue their four match unbeaten run over the past month. Importantly, Balmain hold a 22 point lead over Granville Rage in the Club Championship, with the Rage hoping to pick up some valuable points in their remaining six matches to close that gap, two of which are previous postponements.

The seven matches in Round Twenty Three are split across four timeslots this weekend, starting off with a 5-30pm kick off at David Bertenshaw Field when Hawkesbury City welcome Rydalmere Lions.

As mentioned, both clubs have plenty to play for, with the Hawks vying for a finals position, whilst Rydalmere want to edge that little bit closer to the Premiership.

The match brings together the competition’s two leading goal scorers , who have both managed a remarkable total of 49 goals between them in a clinical display of firepower.

Amaury Gauthier has found the net on 28 occasions for Rydalmere Lions, whilst Santiago Pallares Palomeque is no slouch, having scored 21 goals for Hawkesbury City, and both will no doubt be odds on to add to their respective totals given their consistency this season.

Both players scored in fact the last time these two clubs met back on May 13 in Round 10, although Zac Watters was the difference that day, netting a hatrick in Rydalmere’s 4-1 win. The Hawks have been in good form this season on their own patch, but will need to be at their best if they are to stop the rampaging Lions.

Two of the six sides vying for a finals’ spot will go head to head at Ernie Smith Reserve on Saturday night at 7-00pm, when SD Raiders entertain Gladesville Ryde Magic.

Both sides have had remarkable surges in form over the past few months to now find themselves in a great position to try and make the finals.

The Raiders remain the only side in the competition who have not lost a game in the second round of football, spanning nine matches, which includes 6 wins and 3 draws. The Raiders lie 5th on 37 points, and will look to their attacking quartet amongst others to continue to be a menace in the coming weeks, namely John Fahmi, Mark Symington, Mitchell Mclintock, as well as Daniel Bittar.

Gladesville Ryde Magic themselves have had a great run of form over 12 weeks, with 7 wins and 3 draws during this period, losing only to the competition’s top two sides.

Magic have a strong core down the centre of the park, including the experience of Kyriakos Tohouroglou in goal, Lachlan Harte and Johnny Martinez in defence, skipper Chris Gaitatzis in midfield, and Chris Tomaras in attack, who continue to guide and get the best out of the youngsters around them.

A draw may be on the cards as both teams will no doubt be focussed and are reluctant to give an inch.

Two sides looking to bounce back from heavy losses last weekend will clash at Arlington Oval as Dulwich Hill meet Western NSW Mariners at 7-00pm.

Despite scoring eight goals in their past three games, Dully have failed to win any of them,  dropping to 4th on the ladder and are back amongst the mix. The Mariners win over Rydalmere Lions two weeks ago was erased somewhat with a 0-4 home drubbing against the Raiders last week, so they will be hoping to get some consistency in their play if they are to take anything from this match.

Jaiden Culbert grabbed the only goal of the game when these two sides met back in Round Ten on May 13, giving Western NSW Mariners a valuable 1-0 win, but it is the Mariners who will have to travel this time, and Dully will be keen to send them home with no points in their kit bag.

The final match scheduled for 7-00pm on Saturday night will be at Fraser Park, where St George City FA play host to Dunbar Rovers.

With so much kerfuffle going on in the top half of the ladder in recent weeks, St George have quietly gone about their business, registering four wins on the bounce with a relatively depleted squad, climbing in to 3rd spot on the ladder in the process.

But they will be missing big Sam Messam this week through suspension, as a result of a red card last week for the Saints’ top goalscorer.

In Dunbar they will face a stern test as always, despite their 10th position on the ladder, and the Rovers themselves hope to welcome back a few players from suspension who will give them the impetus they’ll need in attack.

James Spanoudakis bagged a brace in St George City’s 3-1 first round victory over Dunbar, and the playmaker will need to be at his best again if the home side are to continue their fruitful run of late.

Sunday has three scheduled matches, two due to kick off at 3-00pm and one at 7-00pm in the evening.

Sydney University meet Stanmore Hawks at Arlington Oval at 3-00pm, knowing only a win will keep their slim finals hopes alive. The ‘students’ are currently 8th on 26 points, and will need to win at least 4, if not all 5, of their remaining matches, and hope for some dramatic drops in form from the teams above them if they are to continue playing come mid September.

Stanmore Hawks are only one spot and three points behind Sydney Uni on the ladder, but will need to address their recent form pronto if they are to take anything from this match, having won just one of their last 8 matches.

Jovan Blagojevic and Adrian Porcu grabbed the goals for Sydney Uni in their first round 2-0 win over Stanmore, and another similar result this time around will do very nicely indeed for the ‘students’.

On paper, Fraser Park should comfortably collect all three points when they visit Wentworth Park on Sunday to take on Balmain Tigers, given their respective positions on the ladder.

But Balmain have been in inspired form in the past four weeks, not having lost a game with 1 win and 3 draws, a couple of which could easily have turned in to three points.

Fraser Park have no option but to stay focussed and win at all costs if they are to stand any chance of toppling Rydalmere Lions at the top of the ladder, and judging by their 4-1 drubbing of Dulwich Hill last week, they already look like they have returned to that winning frame of mind.

Ben Vidaic scored a double in Fraser’s 3-0 win in the corresponding first round fixture, and a repeat result will do nicely once again for the inner west based Portuguese club.

A six pointer looms at 7-00pm on Sunday night at Fraser Park, when Inter Lions entertain the visit of Granville Rage.

With a single point separating the two clubs on the competition ladder – Granville lie 11th on 17 points whilst Inter Lions are in 13th position on 16 points – a win here will give either club a break on the clubs occupying the bottom rungs.

Both teams have been caught in a rough patch in recent months, with victories rare in both camps, but it will be Rage who will be more desperate for the points given their precarious position in the Club Championship.

The first round affair back in Round 10 on May 13 produced a 5 goal thriller, with Tobias Elliott-Orr and Charbel Haddad netting for Granville, whilst Daniel Fogarty and Lachlan Wright were amongst the scorers for Inter Lions in their 3-2 away win.