With the English football season just round the corner, this is the final instalment of our Australian State League previews. This weekend has a host of mouth-watering matches to tempt us as the season moves towards it climax. There are no Victorian games as its cup final day in Melbourne so for the final week of Australian matches we have the State League in South Australia making an appearance.
So let’s take a look at our suggested draw prospects for the Classic Pools.
Match Number 3 – Manly United v Sydney United 58
With just three rounds left to play in the NSW National Premier League (NPL) these two sides meet hoping to break into the playoff spots with a win. The home side are on a roll having won three of their last five with one draw. In sharp contrast Mark Rudan’s Sydney United 58 side have lost four of their last five and will be without Matt Stamatellis who was sent off at the end of their last match at Rockdale. National champions a couple of years ago they have fallen away badly in recent weeks. A congested fixture list, along with some injuries, has not furthered their cause.
Manly, from the Northern beaches, have built a strong side with key men such as Brendan Cholakian and Chris Payne. A one nil win at Sutherland Sharks was thanks to Payne who headed home from a corner late in the match.
These teams always produce good exciting and close football. Last time around we had eight goals with Manly running out victors. This time we may get another eight but possibly shared between the sides.
- Last Season Manly United 1:0
- This Season Manly United 5:3
- Since 2007 P17 Manly United W8 Sydney United 58 W7 Drawn 2
- Current League Positions Manly United 8th 24pts Sydney United 58 6th 25pts
Match Number 5 – Rockdale City Suns v South Coast Wolves
The Suns showed their finals potential as they moved into fifth after two wins in four days. Away at Sydney United it was a close match with Alec Urovski’s 38th minute goal for the Suns being the only one of the match. On a chilly Wednesday evening at home Paul Reid’s men gave an entertaining performance as they took a three nil win over Sutherland Sharks in a re-arranged local derby match.
With three of the top five places secured Rockdale will be hoping to take a giant leap towards playing finals football with a win over the South Coast Wolves. Despite being ninth on the ladder the Wolves can still qualify for the playoffs but must beat Rockdale and win their two remaining games.
Wolves have won four of their last six including a narrow one nil victory over APIA Leichhardt Tigers last Sunday. Jordan Murray was the man on target for the Wolves and he could have scored a hat trick had it not been for some solid APIA defending. Wolves are not good on the road, however, with just seven of their twenty three points coming away from Wollongong.
- Last Season Rockdale City Suns 1:0
- This Season Rockdale City Suns 1:0
- Since 2010 P11 Rockdale City Suns W4 South Coast Wolves W6 Drawn 1
- Current League Positions Rockdale City Suns 5th 27pts South Coast Wolves 9th 23pts
Match Number 8 – Bankstown City v Fraser Park
Here in NSW NPL 2 it’s tight at the top with only Spirit FC safe in a playoff spot. Bankstown City squandered a chance to enter the top five after a one all draw on Wednesday away at lowly Mounties Wanderers. A Chris Gomez double had helped them to a three nil win last weekend at another lowly placed side St George Saints.
Visitors Fraser Park also had problems with the Mounties after they too were held to a one all draw by them last Sunday afternoon. This was a game in which chances were not taken by both sides. The Park side have now scored just four goals in their last six matches, which is not the sort of performance that wins championships. Hussain Akil is the Golden Boot leader from Fraser Park but he has not netted in the last five matches.
Both teams must improve if they are to make the playoffs and dropping points here will almost certainly dent their finals hopes. A point each won’t help much but that’s the way this game could finish.
- Last Season Bankstown City 5:0
- This Season Fraser Park 2:1
- Since 2010 P7 Bankstown City W3 Fraser Park W2 Drawn 2
- Current League Positions Bankstown City 6th 26pts Fraser Park 7th 25pts
Match Number 10 – Mounties Wanderers v Sydney University
As mentioned above the Mounties Wanderers have been damaging the finals ambitions of a couple of sides this week. Mitchell King gave them the point against Bankstown City but this came at the expense of midfielder Shane Webb receiving a red card, which will keep him out of this weekends’ fixture.
The University side looked to have secured a point against Bankstown Berries, holding them to one apiece, until Matt Trotter scored in stoppage time to nick the game and lift the Berries into the top five.
There is no relegation from this league so its pride being played for here. Three of their only seven encounters have been drawn with this one looking to make that number increase by one.
- Last Season Sydney University 2:1
- This Season Sydney University 2:1
- Since 2012 P7 Mounties Wanderers W1 Sydney University W3 Drawn 3
- Current League Positions Mounties Wanderers 11th 14pts Sydney University 12th 12pts
Match Number 18 – Sunshine Coast Fire v Western Pride
This tie is our longshot of the week to finish all square. Just a fortnight ago they met in a postponed game with Pride running out 3:0 winners thanks to a brace from Harry Sawyer and a single goal from Todd Norris. Last weekend they went down two nil to FNQ Heat who are chasing for a finals berth.
The Fire seem to have lost their fire with five successive losses. The latest being just one nil at home to Redlands United. The only goal came right on the edge of full time with the Fire playing the last forty minutes with ten men after Takumi Kinoshita was dismissed.
On paper and form Pride should take this game but they don’t travel well with just four of their twenty two points coming from road trips. Fire are at their best at home. So maybe, just maybe, we will see this one finish with honours even.
- Last Season Sunshine Coast Fire 3:1
- This Season Western Pride 3:0
- Since 2013 P5 Sunshine Coast Fire W4 Western Pride W1
- Current League Positions Sunshine Coast Fire 10th 17pts Western Pride 9th 22pts
Match Number 19 – Armadale v Subiaco
Finally Armadale have vacated bottom place in the Western Australia NPL after beating Stirling Lions 4:1. Their coach, Paul Price, was understandably upbeat about the win but in truth it was down to the Lions poor defending and not Army’s performance that gave them the victory.
Still without a home point Armadale face a Subiaco side one place and two points above them. Subi have just one win from their seven away matches so, at the very least, this should be an interesting encounter. In early May it was all square with neither side finding the net.
With the threat of relegation lifted both sides are assured of another season of top flight football. The reason is none of the top four in Division One can meet the NPL criteria so no promotion and no relegation.
- Last Season Armadale 2:1
- This Season Draw 0:0
- Since 2014 P3 Armadale W1 Subiaco W1 Drawn 1
- Current League Positions Armadale 10th 11pts Subiaco 9th 13pts
Match Number 21- Cockburn City v Stirling Lions
As mentioned above the Lions did themselves no favours last Saturday making it five defeats from six matches. They replaced young Joel Driscoll in goal with a recall for the reserves keeper Lance Alavakis and there is rumoured to be some dissent in coach Rob Milevski’s squad. Disputes over money seem to be causing problems right now.
In a see saw match Cockburn came back from two nil down to equalise with Bayswater City before taking the lead, then allowing Baysie to equalize and finally succumbing to the pressure going down by the odd goal in seven. A brace for Cockburn’s Rory Patterson sees him in second on the Golden Boot ladder behind Bayswater’s Gustavo Maralunda who went one better than Patterson and scored a hat trick.
If either Cockburn or Stirling are to make the top four playoffs they must start this Saturday. On current form a point each would seem a fair result but that score line would leave both of them with a mountain to climb in the final five rounds.
- Last Season Stirling Lions 1:0
- This Season Stirling Lions 4:0
- Since 2003 P23 Cockburn City W8 Stirling Lions W11 Drawn 4
- Current League Positions Cockburn City 5th 23pts Stirling Lions 7th 21pts
Match Number 26 – Campbelltown City v Adelaide City
In the South Australia NPL four of the top six playoff places are now filled after last weekend. These pair are not in those secure spots yet but, with just three games to play, a win for the Red Devils of Campbelltown City will ensure they are playing finals football in early September. Should they lose they will still be favourites to be in the mix whilst City would join them on forty points. This latter scenario could see both occupying those final positions should MetroStars fail to beat Adelaide Blue Eagles.
Campbelltown lost for the first time in four games as Raiders beat them 3:1. The Red Devils goal was scored by new man Andrew Kaine, recently signed from Adelaide Victory, for whom he netted sixteen in the State League.
City had a bad day at the office as well going down to Adelaide Comets one nil. David Zerillo’s 40th minute goal was all that counted in an otherwise uneventful ninety minutes.
Expect goals in this one. Campbelltown have Golden Boot leader Michael Matricciani shooting for them while City have a veritable array of strike power in Nick Bucco, Joel Allwright and Anthony Costa who have amassed thirty six goals between them.
Feelings are always high in this game so goals, frenetic football and honours even.
- Last Season Campbelltown City 1:0
- This Season Adelaide City 4:0
- Since 1974 P41 Campbelltown City W14 Adelaide City W18 Drawn 9
- Current League Positions Campbelltown City 5th 40pts Adelaide City 6th 37pts
Match Number 29 – Port Adelaide Pirates v Para Hills Knights
Whilst the top of the league is taking shape relegation issues concern the Pirates while the Knights are already down. Joining them are White City who were relegated after a crushing 4:1 defeat at the hands of champions Croydon Kings.
Not surprisingly the Pirates went down 3:0 to West Adelaide who moved top of the table as a result. They along with Modbury, South Adelaide and Raiders are fighting for survival with one of the four dropping automatically and another facing a playoff to stay in the league.
A shock result last Saturday saw Para Hills beat MetroStars 2:0 and almost end their hopes of a finals’ spot. On Wednesday MetroStars went to Sydney in a national cup ties and won 2:1 against crack side Blacktown City. Just a couple of weeks earlier the Knights beat West Adelaide one nil and are not going out with a whimper.
So all to play for on Super Saturday in Adelaide.
- This Season Port Adelaide Pirates 4:2
- Since 1968 P38 Port Adelaide Pirates W11 Para Hills Knights W22 Drawn 5
- Current League Positions Port Adelaide Pirates 12th 23pts Para Hills Knights 14th 13pts
Match Number 38 – Devonport City v Northern Rangers
This is the big Northern derby in Tasmania as Rangers make the short trip along the A1 to Devonport. Whilst neither side are contenders for the title this is one neither will want to lose. Over the years the hosts have had the upper hand. Michael Holden’s goal gave City the win at Valley Road back in April while they finished all square in Launceston six weeks ago.
Last Saturday Devonport’s four nil win over bottom club Glenorchy Knights was slightly flattering with two goals coming in the final five minutes of the game.
A stoic performance by Northern Rangers saw them hold Hobart Zebras to a goal less draw. That result made it six draws for them so far and the trip to Devonport looks set to make it seven.
- Last Season Draw 1:1
- This Season Devonport City 1:0 Draw 2:2
- Since 1999 P36 Devonport City W23 Northern Rangers W6 Drawn 7
- Current League Positions Devonport City 7th 20pts Northern Rangers 5th 21pts
Match Number 43 – Charlestown City Blues v Maitland
Charlestown City Blues had won three of their past five matches before losing to Weston Workers Bears by a single goal. Visitors Maitland, having propped up the table for so long, managed to hang onto ninth spot despite going down two nil to Adamstown Rosebuds.
Reece Thompson, Maitland’s coach, was brutally honest about their performance saying they were flat and never got going in the windy conditions.
Maitland, promoted last season, are in the frame for going straight back down to the First Division. Charlestown are also in danger but the Blues have a game in hand, which is against a poor performing Newcastle Jets side, that they are expected to win.
A point each won’t resolve anything or suit either team. That may be the outcome from this tight game.
- This Season Maitland 3:0
- Since 1997 P17 Charlestown City Blues W11 Maitland W4 Drawn 2
- Current League Positions Charlestown City Blues 8th 12pts Maitland 9th 11pts
Match Number 45 – Hamilton Olympic v Weston Workers Bears
Both Olympic and the Bears moved up a rung on the Northern NSW NPL ladder following wins last weekend. For Olympic it was a welcome return to the winners circle after drawing three of their previous four matches. Mick Bolch’s side were impressive as they hammered Newcastle Jets seven nil.
In sharp contrast Weston had a scrappy encounter with Charlestown City Blues. A first half header from David Thornton was all that separated the sides in a game of few chances. A strong wind made conditions difficult for both teams.
Edgeworth Eagles secured their finals place with a 2:1 win over Lambton Jaffas. A win for Olympic will secure theirs whilst a Bears victory will leave them, depending on other results, needing just a point to ensure they are playing finals football come September.
- Last Season Hamilton Olympic 3:0
- This Season Hamilton Olympic 3:1
- Since 1997 P40 Hamilton Olympic W21 Weston workers Bears W13 Drawn 6
- Current League Positions Hamilton Olympic 2nd 30pts Weston Workers Bears 3rd 29pts
Whilst our ten week journey down under is coming to an end, the Australian season is still to conclude. If you want to follow the final few weeks of the season, our good friends at footballaustralia.co.uk will tell you everything you need to know.
Photo: Action Manly United’s Brad Mc Donald (white) holds off a Sutherland Sharks (blue shirts) player as Manly take a 1:0 win. (Photos by F.A.M.E Photography - Jeremy Ng for Football NSW)