With half of the season now completed, Paul Orgad takes a look at each club’s performance so far in 2019.
Ladder Position: 1st
Goal Difference: +21
Highlight: Their unbeaten run thus far this season.
10 points ahead of where they were this time last year, Northbridge must be full of confidence as they take a 7 point lead into the turn of the round. Funnily enough, 7 points was the leading margin for West Pymble at the halfway mark in 2018 and they managed to extend this to 10 by season’s end. Northbridge won’t be looking in the past however, with everything to play for in the next 9 games. Should they hold their nerve and come out on top, it will (somehow) be the clubs first ever Men’s Premier League title. Some familiar names continue to be strong performers, with Alex Partridge hitting the back of the net on 8 occasions to lead the Golden Boot race. Also in the top 10 are Michael Cole (7) and Luke Tyson / Robbie Kerr with 4 each. Newcomer Martin Middlehurst has also been playing well, but it is their defence that has improved greatly from last season, with more pace at their disposal. This weekend almost shapes as a title decider as they face the in-form Willoughby Dalleys, who are unbeaten since round 4. It was a high scoring match in their first encounter this season, with ‘The Bridge’ winning 6-4. Their reserves also lead the competition which is a real testament to their squad depth and this could well prove crucial as the season continues. Their next 6 games are on synthetic grass and they’ll want to collect maximum points in rounds 10, 11 and 12 before they face Pymble, Lindfield and Rangers respectively.
Ladder Position: 2nd
Goal Difference: +11
Highlight: Their run of 4 wins in the past 5 games following a nervy start to the campaign.
West Pymble find themselves in an unfamiliar position heading into the second half of the season – not in first place and 7 points adrift of league leaders Northbridge. Despite a huge turnover of players and a new coach at the helm, the current Premiers have done well to remain in the hunt. Adopting a different style of play has taken time to perfect, but their recent form suggests they are ready to make things hard for Northbridge in the run home. Last year’s golden boot winner Seb Bendall is yet to score this season, having struggled with injury for much of the campaign. Ever reliable Matt Laming and defender Sam Clayton have been the team’s leading threats in front of goal, with 5 and 4 respectively. Rob Tall continues to excel and Ray Lee – operating further forward this season – has also been a strong performer in recent weeks. If they can get 9 points in the next 3 fixtures, their round 13 clash against Northbridge could be decisive in this year’s title race. Don’t count the 4 time Premiers out just yet.
Ladder Position: 3rd
Goal Difference: +6
Highlight: Their continued good run of form since the halfway mark of 2018.
Dalleys have accrued 32 from a possible 52 points since round 10 of last season. Their form this season has been aided by new striker Sam Young, who has scored on 6 occasions this year and has caught the eye of many observers. Their only real blemish was a shock 1-0 loss to St Michaels in round 4, which also coincided with the departure of their newly appointed coach. However, they have responded brilliantly by winning 4 of their next 5 to position themselves in touching distance of the top 2. Should they claim all 3 points against Northbridge tomorrow it will certainly give them renewed confidence heading into the second half of 2019. Captain Chad Cowley continues to lead from the front, even chipping in with a couple of crucial goals this term. Another new signing and former Australian Schoolboys representative Ben Morrison is taking his time adjusting to men’s football but he will no doubt be more influential in the next 9 games. Dalleys have also turned themselves into a well performing squad as a whole, as their reserves also sit in 3rd. A good sign for the once divided squad.
Ladder Position: 4th
Goal Difference: +4
Highlight: Their inspiring effort in a 3-1 FFA Cup loss to FNSW NPL1 powerhouse Sydney Olympic.
Lindfield’s unusually poor start in the league can most likely be put down to a number of things. However, a new coach, key absentees and not being able to field the same starting 11 in back-to-back matches are no doubt key factors. Their reaction to conceding 8 goals in 2 games (a 4-2 loss against Rangers and 4-0 loss against Northbridge) shows you there is life in this squad. New signing Julian Lim has been the standout so far, with other new signings Josh Spencer and Polish import Jacob Jacoczyk doing well in the first half of the year. The surprise packet this season is evergreen defender-come-striker Peter ‘Tex’ Koelma, who has filled in up front in Matt Ventura’s absence. As often is the case in these situations he has given it a red hot crack, scoring 5 goals in the process. A mid-season holiday for gloveman Mark Wilson has given young David Anand a chance, which he has grabbed with both hands (excuse the pun). Lindfield finally managed to beat bogey side Knox United in Round 1 and they will be hoping to repeat that feat tomorrow in front of their own fans. If they can get some key bodies back on deck they will be certainties to finish in the top 4.
Ladder Position: 5th
Goal Difference: +2
Highlight: Being minutes away from ending Northbridge’s unbeaten run (game finished 1-1).
The consistently inconsistent team of the NSFA Premier League and a tipster’s nightmare. Their record against the current top 4 is impressive – wins against Lindfield and West Pymble whilst holding Northbridge and Dalleys to a draw. The inconsistency is not isolated to 2019 either so coaches George Zoratto and Craig Tyrie must be frustrated in their side’s continuous up-and-down form. Curtis Schumann has been their main threat in front of goal with 5 next to his name, with Captain Andrew Zoratto and Nick Condylis each chipping in with 4 goals. Alex Drake took a while to hit top form this season following an interrupted preparation but his excellent performances of late are pleasing and will no doubt be an important ingredient as Rangers push for a top 4 spot. With that said, their defence has been the biggest area of improvement. This time last year they had conceded a league high 28 goals, against just 16 in 2019, whilst managing to score the same amount. With that said, their round 10 clash against fellow mid-table side North Sydney will be a good litmus test but should they fail to obtain 3 points, they could find themselves struggling to stay in touching distance of the leading pack.
Ladder Position: 6th
Goal Difference: -7
Highlight: Being unbeaten in their first 5 games of the season.
Just like in 2018 Old Barker started the season in great form, collecting 9 points from their first 5 games following a comprehensive pre-season featuring plenty of games. You could argue that the key to survival is beating the teams around you but they have expressed a desire to climb their way up the ladder rather than being perennial mid-table performers. Their defence has deserted them in recent weeks, conceding 13 in their past 4 matches. The good news for Barker is that they will take confidence from their opening 5 games when they play those teams again, starting with a trip to Auluba to face bottom placed Kissing Point, desperate to notch their first victory of 2019. New striker Scott Telford hit the ground running with 4 goals in his first 4 games but as the goals dried up so did the positive results so Scott will be hoping to inspire his side once again in the coming weeks. Diminutive playmaker Kieran Hayes has had a great season to date, with usual suspects Mike Evrat and Gohto Saikawa also putting in good performances.
North Sydney United
Ladder Position: 7th
Goal Difference: -9
Highlight: The performances of youngster Benji Hugh.
North Sydney have shown signs of improvement following their poor season in 2018 where the team finished 9th. Like Rangers their defence has been tighter this season, 18 against 25 this time last year. In fact it has been a somewhat low scoring season, with no team conceding more than 20 (Kissing Point). North Sydney have been up and down, something you might expect from a young team and following the departure of two-time NSFA MVP Alex Moth, it was always going to be hard finding a replacement. Luckily for coach Matt Sawers he didn’t need to look to far as a current member of his squad has stepped up this year. Benji Hugh leads the way with 4 goals and his performances along with those of midfielder Nishad Kulkarni have the team sitting mid table. They will need to pick up some points fairly quickly if they are to avoid a late season relegation fight. Striker Christian Garces is yet to play his best football but if he finds form, the team may collect some much needed points in the second half of the season.
Ladder Position: 8th
Goal Difference: -9
Highlight: The performances of goalkeeper Alex Buddle.
It is hard to know what to make of season 2019 for Knox United. Goals are typically hard to come by for this team and this trend has continued with just 10 goals scored. Despite a string of good games by goalkeeper Alex Buddle, Knox are yet to keep a clean sheet this season. Perhaps the figure in the GA column would have been higher without him. New coach Danilo Gama has tinkered with his side as he tries to find the right balance. Although they lost their round 1 fixture against Lindfield they do have the wood over them so tomorrow’s fixture will be seen as a winnable game. This is followed by tough matches against Rangers and Northbridge, so Knox will want to get something out of their trip to the ‘Bean’. Adrian Alpert has put in a good shift in the first 9 games, with Tom Radcliff and Harry Kaye doing their best to play a pivotal role. For the second game running the ‘Old Boys’ derby ended in a draw with the return leg for this season being played in round 14.
Ladder Position: 9th
Goal Difference: -7
Highlight: Defeating Dalleys and Rangers in consecutive games, 1-0 and 3-0 respectively.
The new kids (almost literally) on the block certainly haven’t disgraced themselves in the clubs first ever season in the top flight. 3 straight losses to start the season for this young side and one could have easily thought the step up was one step too far. However, they surprised many and probably themselves when they stunned Dalleys and then backed it up with a comprehensive 3-0 win against Rangers in round 4 and 5 respectively. Since then just the solitary point against Kisso in round 9 has them sitting in the relegation zone. For the past 6 years teams have required (in order from 2013 – 2019) the following number of points to survive – 17, 15, 17, 19, 19 and 20. With a seemingly top 5 / bottom 5 split in the competition this year, St Michael’s will need to ensure they collect points against the teams around them in the second half of the year if they want to give themselves a chance to survive the dreaded drop. Tom Keenan and Mitch Hope have had good starts to the season and their form, along with crucial goals from Lawson Brien-Arnold (4) will hopefully set the platform for a better run of results.
Ladder Position: 10th
Goal Difference: -12
Highlight: Their performances and subsequent results in the past 2 games. Is there hope yet?
Kissing Point would be anything but happy with where they sit at the present moment. The season started off with a respectable draw against Barker but the team currently sit rock bottom and without a win. Despite a relatively settled squad this season things haven’t quite got going for the boys from South Turramurra. Peter Blakeley continues to try and do his bit in front of goal with 4 but the team’s lack of threat in the front third has been a worrying trend over the past few years. As always, Kisso have kept things relatively tight and will always battle in every fixture. Their first win is not too far away I’m sure. Midfielders Chris Kirley and Eddie Holland continue to try and get their team going forward with Brendan Burns doing his best between the sticks. With 5 home games remaining their best chance at survival rests in these fixtures. Should they be relegated it will be the first time in more than 40 years Kisso is not represented in the Men’s top division.