NPL football is back

Shining Suns:The Rockdale City Suns came away with a 0-0 away result against Manly to restart their 2020 NPL season. Picture John Veage
Shining Suns:The Rockdale City Suns came away with a 0-0 away result against Manly to restart their 2020 NPL season. Picture John Veage

It's been a long wait but the National Premier Leagues NSW Men's competition is back and the opening week of the rebooted NPL NSW Men's season didn't disappoint the fans.

After a forced 19 week lay-off, the league has returned for an 11-week regular season but with a few unique differences.

Joining the top tier NPL NSW Men's competition is Western Sydney Wanderers who will play in the NSW state league top flight for the first time after replacing Sutherland Sharks for this season only.

There will be no relegation or promotion this season with teams playing to qualify for a two-week finals series.

Reigning Champions APIA Leichhardt kicked-off the season as part of a Friday night football feast which also included Manly United hosting the Rockdale Suns.

The Steve Zoric coached Rockdale City Suns were undefeated in their three games earlier this year including a dramatic win against Manly back in March. .

This time around Manly United were determined to hit the ground running at Cromer Park on Friday night and both sides traded chances in the opening stages in an exciting first 45 minutes.

Manly shot-stopper Dylan Mitchell made a pair of fine saves during the opening stanza to deny two brilliant Rockdale chances as the match remained locked at 0-0 going into the interval.

A deflected free-kick from Rockdales Nikola Taneski in the 66th minute nearly broke the deadlock, but it sailed inches over the crossbar denying the Suns a first up win.

Manly's Marley Peterson was also only inches away from scoring but that proved to be the last real chance of the game as both sides took home a hard-earned point.

One of the Suns key men, Mitch Stamatellis said that the 0-0 wasn't a bad result for the club first up.

"To come home with a point from a hard working Manly team is a fair result for us.

"Defensively we held our shape and created a couple of opportunities, going forward we need to win the ball back and keep it a little more" he said

All the NPL teams have retooled during the long break with most forced into a reshuffle of their rosters.

Rockdale has had a few major departures of their own during the season halt,with star attacker Alec Urosevski and midfielder Michael Neill not returning to finish their 2020 campaign.

Incoming are new signings Jaden Casella, Kyle Cimenti and Zander Reagan and rising star Sam Guilisano will be determined to come back in the same impressive form he showed before the enforced break, while captain Daniel Petkovski is back where he belongs to marshall the heart of the Rockdale defence.

The Suns are sitting in fifth place on the new NPL ladder and now take on the third placed Marconi Stallions in their first home game at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday 6.30pm.