All to play for this Sunday

06.08.2017

What your club needs to do to make the finals of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition. 

1. APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC

Best Finish: 1st

Worst Finish: 2nd

With the best defence in the league and the best attack, APIA’s rise to the summit of the competition table after a vital victory over Blacktown City had an air of inevitability and vindication about it.

The Tigers have one hand on the Premiership trophy heading into the final round of the regular season, and only need a draw against Rockdale at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon to be officially crowned premiers for 2017.

The incentives for finishing top don’t stop there.

APIA will enjoy a week off - a much needed reward after a hectic schedule in the Waratah and Westfield FFA Cup - as well as an all-important second chance in the finals if they can secure victory over Rockdale City Suns in the final round of the season.

Can APIA take out the Premiership something they last won fourteen long seasons ago? The Suns stand in their way of that fate.

2. Blacktown City FC

Best Finish: 1st

Worst Finish: 2nd

Having spent a total of 58 days on top of the competition table, more than any other team in the league, Blacktown City’s demoralising defeat to APIA on Sunday afternoon may prove to be a defining moment in not just the race for the Premiership trophy, but also the Club Championship.

After Round 21’s results, Blacktown City hold a narrow 8-point lead over APIA Leichhardt Tigers in the Club Championship.

Worryingly for Mark Crittenden’s men, their form looks to have plummeted at the worst possible time (excluding their 3-2 heroics in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 knocking off the Central Coast Mariners).

A dismal run of just one point in three games has Blacktown in alarming decline on the eve of the finals.

And it doesn’t get any easier in their final match of the season; when they travel to the home of familiar foe, Sydney United 58. The Reds suffered a heart-breaking defeat at the hands of Manly United last round, effectively ending their season, but would undoubtedly love to drive another dagger into the heart of Blacktown City’s Premiership aspirations after they lost out to them in the 2016 Grand Final.

In saying that, if there’s one team that you should never count out of any calculations on doing the unthinkable its Blacktown City who carry a strong never say die attitude that may well get them across that line once more.

3. Rockdale City Suns FC

Best Finish: 3rd

Worst Finish: 4th

Rockdale City Suns hold all the cards in the race for the Premiership trophy.

If they manage to defeat APIA in the final game of the season, it opens the door for Blacktown City to perform a Stephen Bradbury-esque come from behind victory – sealing their second Premiership in just three seasons.

Knowing a victory will secure a third place finish and a vital second chance in the first round of the finals, Rockdale City Suns will not be short of motivation in this fixture at Lambert Park.

Whilst the comfort of a second chance in the finals is on offer for Rockdale if they can beat APIA on the weekend, the perils of a straight knockout fixture looms large if they lose and Manly United beat Hakoah.

Rockdale’s final game of the season against APIA appears to be a match of almost innumerable consequences and huge significance as an enthralling race for both the premiership and top five qualification reaches its climax.

4. Manly United FC

Best Finish: 3rd

Worst Finish: 5th

If you don’t believe in miracles, watch the highlights from Manly United’s incredible 3-2-comeback victory against Sydney United 58 on Sunday afternoon.

A victory that not only ensures Manly’s qualification for this year’s finals, but also brings an end to the top five ambitions of Mark Rudan’s team.

Erratic at best in recent weeks, with a deserved win over Blacktown City followed up with a crushing 5-0 defeat at the hands of APIA Leichhardt Tigers, Manly United will be hoping to head into their do or die finals match against either Sydney Olympic of Wollongong Wolves full of confidence.

With Dejan Pandurevic firing on all cylinders and the experienced head of Dylan Macallister leading the line, Manly will be tricky customers in the finals series and could make a run all the way to the Grand Final if they produce their best football.

5. Sydney Olympic FC

Best Finish: 4th

Worst Finish: 6th

When Sergio Aguero scored that classic goal to win Manchester City the Premier League title in 2012, he ultimately had goal difference to thank, as his side finished level on points with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United team.

Sydney Olympic, sitting just three points above sixth placed Wollongong Wolves, may be equally thankful for the invention of goal difference come full-time in their match against Sutherland Sharks on the weekend.

Olympic will be short-priced favourites to take all three points against Sutherland, and their 9 point buffer in goal difference over the Wolves may prove a mountain too tall to climb for a desperate Wollongong side.

Having already secured victories over APIA and Manly United this season, Olympic will fancy their chances if they can secure qualification in the finals. Apart from their inexplicable hoodoo against Blacktown City, Olympic have no reason to fear any side in the top five and with Jinya An and Yu Kuboki mercilessly leading their attack, they could prove a real dark horse in this year’s finals series.

6. Wollongong Wolves FC

Best Finish: 5th

Worst Finish: 6th

Clinging to a belief in an unlikely top five qualification like an adolescent child stubbornly refusing to concede the fiction of Santa, Wollongong host Sydney FC in the final round of the competition, needing to overturn a whopping 9 goal differential to have any hope of qualifying for this year’s finals series.

Patrick Antelmi has demonstrated his appetite for goals this season and Peter Simonoski has been scoring goals for fun in recent weeks.

But their efforts may not be enough as Wollongong are still reliant on Sutherland snatching an unlikely victory over Olympic for the south-coast team to have any chance of qualification. 

1st

APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC

48pts

GD + 32

Rockdale City Suns (h)

2nd

Blacktown City FC

46pts

GD + 23

Sydney United 58 FC (a)

 

3rd

Rockdale City Suns FC

41pts

GD + 14

APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC (a)

 

4th

Manly United FC

39pts

GD + 10

Hakoah Sydney City East (a)

 

5th

Sydney Olympic FC

37pts

GD + 11

Sutherland Sharks FC (a)

 

6th

Wollongong Wolves FC

34pts

GD + 2

Sydney FC (h)