NPL 2 End of season review

North Shore – Cast your mind back to the final round of the 2016 season, a 10 man Fraser Park had just battled to a 1-1 draw with Bankstown Lions whilst NSM beat Mount Druitt 2-1 ensuring Fraser’s relegation while NSM would go on to live another day. Since that day coach Joe Haywood & co have been slowly turning NSM around with multiple finals appearances concluding with not only taking out the league but also the coveted club championship thus securing promotion to NPL 1.

While they couldn’t do the treble & take out the final against Hills there is no doubt NSM would be very proud of their season & the work they’ve accomplished in just 3 short years.

Hills – Another club that has turned things around, a few years ago Hills didn’t even have a SAP program owing to their relegation down to the 3rd tier however much like NSM they’ve managed to rise through the ranks recently thanks to their loyal core of local lads & backroom expertise.

Despite the fact that they couldn’t push on for promotion they did the next best thing & picked up a trophy winning the final in a very exciting 6-3 game over NSM

Although Zwaanswijk will have to find another striker with 22 goal marksman Dan Fogarty departing the club for Rangers, the club would be hoping for another push next season to reward their stalwart players for sticking with them through the best of times & the blurst of times. 

Bonnyrigg – Definitely a story of 2 parts for Bonnyrigg this season, by the mid-way point of the season the club was staring down the bottom of the club championship barrel courtesy of -30 point deduction at the start of the year, had gone through coaching changes with Milan Blagojevic & Franco Cosentino moving on & we were left wondering if the club would be left suffering with back 2 back relegations. 

What happened next nobody could predict, the club then went on to romp through the competition going on a 10 match unbeaten streak under leadership of new gaffer Wayne O’Sullivan. Whilst they couldn’t do the extraordinary and win promotion or even silverware they certainly gave it a decent crack finally succumbing to Hills 2-1 in a thrilling semi-final that honestly could have gone either way.

Whilst many clubs will be lamenting the death of the club championship, Bonnyrigg will be celebrating the fact given they typically perform better in firsts above all & we can definitely see them giving promotion a decent go next year as long as they can keep their core of NPL 1 quality players together for one more push.

Mounties – Plenty of talent & experience at Mounties this year with tenured gaffer Bomber Brown nabbing several NPL 1 quality players at the start of the season and even managed to bring in Mark Bridge for a stint post HAL season.

The club coasted along in the finals positions for the majority of the season but ultimately came up short of any success in the end bowing out in the FFA Cup qualifiers to Dulwich Hill & getting knocked out convincingly in the elimination semi to NSM 5-0. 

Spirit – A solid season under wunder-coach David Perkovic. Coach Perko is known for his analytical expertise & getting the best out of less fancied names & this showed throughout the season as Spirit consistently stayed in the top half of the table. 

Would consider themselves unlucky to be knocked out at the first hurdle to Mounties after they left it late to overcome them with 2 late goals including a worldie in the dying seconds of the game. 

Northern Tigers – Business as usual for the club who have hovered around the 5th -7th mark for the last handful of years. Brought in dependable defender Jamie Lobb from Manly & the human highlight reel Shervin Adeli who seems incapable of scoring a regular goal, only 40 yard bangers for the former Bonnyrigg man. 

Took on Bonnyrigg in the finals & very nearly went on to the next stage but were thwarted with a Ray Miller volley equalizing the game in the 88th minute. Eventually ran out of legs in extra time as Richie Darko netted a double & put their season to bed.

Blacktown Spartans – Plugged along and kept up a solid campaign relying on a young squad as per the norm since dropping down to the 2nd tier in 2017 but couldn’t go on to nab the last finals spot after failing to pick up a win in their last 3 games. Will start 2020 under new management with Paul Hubbard departing the club during the final day of the season.

Personally we’re eager to see their kits for next season more than anything else, has any team ever worn the same kits for 5 seasons in a row?

CCM – Death, taxes & CCM being average in firsts.

WSW – Absolutely bottled what could have been their last chance at promotion, the rampant U/18’s & U/20’s kept them in the promotion hunt all season but were let down by first grade who could only muster 2 wins in their last 10 games. With promotion being only based on firsts from next season & having to deal with mid-season squad overhauls due to HAL contracts expiring at the end of the HAL season which doesn’t run concurrent to the NPL the Wanderers might be waiting a while, if ever to join their HAL rivals Sydney FC in the top tier of NSW football.

St George Saints – From champions to coming within an inch of being relegated. With manager Terry Palapanis moving on & taking key players with him such as captain Tarik Ercan & Raul Romero to Sutho, the club struggled throughout the season leaving it to the final day to secure their position in the league for next season. 

Enjoyed a tad more success in the FFA Cup, qualifying for the tournament proper as NSW NPL 2’s sole representative going down to SU58 who they pushed all the way to extra time. 

St George FA – Much like the HAL teams it seems their strength lies in lower grades with the U/18’s finishing in 9th & the U/20’s finishing in 4th taking out the U/20’s golden boot courtesy of Reuben Awaritefe. Will be hoping their young guns can adjust to senior football swiftly along with experienced heads such as Bill Tsanidis & Matty Mayora to guide them if they want to avoid second season syndrome like Rydalmere suffered this year.

Rydalmere – The 3rd and final victims of the increased relegation spots this season, fought for survival until the final day but were given no favours from fellow relegation candidates St George Saints as they went on to clean sweep a depleted Spartans thus sealing Rydalmere’s fate. Might be in for a bit of a post-season shake up given they have a few prospects such as Luka Zepina who surely won’t be too keen on playing 3rd tier football next season.

Macarthur – Had been flirting with the bottom half of the table for some time now so FNSW’s decision to relegate 3 teams from NPL 2 this year just decided to speed up the inevitable it seems. Despite the geographical advantages afforded to them & somehow running a fairly decent women’s program it seems like the desire to do anything with the senior men’s program just isn’t there anymore. The administration would be strongly hoping that the rumour of a player sharing affiliation with the newly created Macarthur HAL franchise comes to fruition because sadly that’s the only way we see Rams getting anywhere near the upper tiers of the pyramid again.

Berries –Not a good year across the board for Berries, got stuck to the bottom of the table early on & that’s where they stayed for the rest of the year.

Photo Credit: FNSW

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