Wolves fans will dream of this being an A-League fixture in the near future.
The sky blue of Sydney FC, playing under lights at WIN Stadium on Saturday night.
For now, it presents a desperate scrap, after the Wolves slipped to 10th on the NSW National Premier League standings, but still just two points behind fifth-placed Sutherland.
Sydney FC’s reserves are anchored to the bottom of the table, seven points adrift of the Wolves.
So the three points will be vital for the Wolves’ finals cause and to bounce back from the 4-1 loss to Rockdale last weekend.
The Sydney FC clash also comes just two days after an extraordinary public spat between club chairman Scott Barlow and Southern Expansion’s chief executive Chris Gardiner.
The Wolves and Southern Expansion are among 15 applications made, with a shortlist expected to be announced next week and a final decision of two successful bids on October 31 to join the A-League in 2019-20.
“The Southern Expansion bid is a deeply flawed proposal,” Barlow said on Thursday. “It is an attempt to pull together three completely unrelated regions of NSW.
“The people of Wollongong do not associate themselves with Cronulla or Kogarah and vice versa. You cannot build a passionate, parochial, rusted-on fan base from three unrelated areas.”
Sydney FC and Barlow have expressed the impact Southern Expansion would have in their supporter base, declaring their support for the Sydney South West proposal instead.
A successful Wolves bid would allow Sydney FC to be the dominant club in the east and southern parts of the city. However, Gardiner hit back, saying suggestions Southern Expansion will cannibalise Sydney FC’s base were “simply ridiculous, if not embarrassing", claiming the city will need “at least three, medium-term four” clubs.
The Wolves launched their A-League bid, hoping to return to the top table after the demise of the National Soccer League. They also showed they have some clout in the marketplace by luring former Socceroos defender Luke Wilkshire back to Wollongong.
But for now, the A-League can wait, as the Wolves need to bank three points against Sydney FC, before crucial battles with Sutherland, Hakoah, Bonnyrigg and Sydney United to come in the next month, some of their biggest rivals for the finals.
NSW NATIONAL PREMIER LEAGUE
WOLLONGONG WOLVES v SYDNEY FC