NPL 1 Mid Season Review

Yeah, we’re doing this again after forgetting about it last year.

Anyway here’s our take on how the season is going for our Premier League sides halfway through the season.

Wolves – The days of languishing down at the bottom end of the table seem to be finally over for Wolves. A change of coach seems to have made the world of difference for the Wolves this year with long-serving manager Jacob Timpano stepping down at the end of last season, Wolves sought to keep things in house elevating recently retired Luke Wilkshire to the position.

A decision that seems to have paid off with Wolves currently topping the competition at the time of writing. No doubt Wolves rapid rise to the top is partly in thanks to new signing Tom James coming in from Canberra FC, James also tops the goal scoring charts with 12 in 11 so far. It’s been slim pickings recently for the former NSL powerhouse in the NPL system, Can they hold on & finally win their first piece of silverware for over a decade?

APIA – Last season’s finalists and perennially at the top half of the table this season seems to be no different for APIA. Losing their star player Jordan Murray to the Central Coast Mariners at the end of last season the club had sought to bring in some experience to lead the line nabbing Chris Payne from SU58. Payne seems to have slotted into the position with ease keeping APIA at the top with 11 goals in 10 games. Seems to be business as usual for APIA, expect to see them in the finals.

Rockdale – Another club that seems to have benefited from a coaching change. After spending heavily in the off-season bringing in Josh Da Silva from their cross-town rivals, Howie Fondyke & of course Panni Nikas big things were expected from Rockdale this season with long serving manager Paul Reid unfortunately paying the price after a poor start to the season. Since then the Suns have managed to climb up the ladder to a respectable 3rd spot by the mid-way point of the season.

SU58 – The usual pattern of have a bad start > sack the coach > bring back Mark Rudan seems to have been broken this year with Miro Vlastelica still in charge at the moment. Expectations are always high at Edensor Park and being in a finals spot is no less than what the board & fans would expect. Brought in Tariq Maia & Peter Simonoski to replace the departing Nikas & Payne who have been adequate replacements.

Manly – A slight improvement from Manly this season, after unexpectedly making both the Waratah Cup final & league final in 2017 the men from the Northern Beaches were expected to go on & stake their claim again instead finishing poorly in 8th position. Losing the two Dylan’s (Mitchell & Macallister) to retirement as well as veteran of the league Sasa Macura we can’t say too much was expected of Manly this season. They are however just holding on to 5th and thus the last finals spot by virtue of GD. Will need to keep picking up the points if they want to hold off Blacktown & Olympic who are hot on their heels.

Blacktown – Typically strong many thought this year would be the year that the club formerly known as Demons would struggle after losing what seemed to be half their team to Marconi. Currently claiming 6th position it’s a drop from the lofty heights the club is usually used to however they are only trailing Manly on GD & are very much a chance of playing finals football this season.

Olympic – Last season’s champions find themselves in 7th position currently, quite the drop-off in form considering even in “bad” years the club somehow always manages to be around the finals spots. Whilst they did lose two key players in George Timotheou & Maxi Burgess most of last season’s championship winning team has been retained which makes their decline even more baffling. Have added Peter Kekeris in the mid-season transfer window in an attempt to kick-start their season to try & defend their title.

Marconi – Having spent big since making their return to the top division this season was no different as said previously by picking up what seemed to be half of Blacktown’s team. What also seems to be no different is Marconi under-performing after finishing outside the finals positions in 6th last season they find themselves in 8th position at the moment. Will be interesting how much patience the board have left with Peter Tsekenis given his predecessor was shown the door for far less.

Sydney FC – Business as usual for Sydney FC being around the bottom half of the table since getting promoted to NPL1 in 2017. Usually rely on their 18’s & 20’s to keep their heads above water and this seems to be no different this time around with firsts occupying 9th position but coming 2nd & 3rd in 18’s & 20’s. Have dropped HAL contracted player Luke Ivanovic down to the NPL team.

Mount Druitt – The new boys this year, have scored a fair amount of goals this year with them being able to get on the scoresheet 10/11 times, problem is they’ve conceded just as many. Carlos Saliadarre has done a great job keeping them in games but he can’t keep saving Rangers by himself, will need to tighten the ship at the back unless they want to quickly find themselves in a relegation battle seeing how they occupy the same position in the club championship

Sutherland – Have a history of being mid-table plodders where they usually just do enough to enough to keep themselves out of trouble in firsts & in the CC with some help from the lower grades. Their luck seems to have run out this season with the Sharks finding themselves in a relegation battle no doubt in part to losing key players such as Jacob Tratt & Nick Olsen. Lower grades also having a downturn in fortune with the 18’s coming 9th & 20’s in 6th means they can’t rely on any favours from them. Terry Palapanis will be hoping returning junior Charles Lokolingoy will be able to find some form again in the NPL & fire them along to some wins otherwise he’ll be finding himself back in NPL2 sooner rather than later.

Hakoah – Finally find themselves in a relegation battle after not doing much since getting promoted to NPL1 in 2016.

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