THEY'VE been showing flashes of promise throughout their respective NPL Youth Leagues 3 seasons but now is the time for Western NSW FC's under 15s and 16s to put it all together.
The two Western sides will each hope to claim upset victories in this Saturday's first-versus-fourth semi-final clashes in Sydney and continue their brilliant campaigns.
Western's under 15s will look to get their offence back into gear when they try to bring down Camden Tigers FC for the first time this season while the under 16s go up against Hawksbury City FC for the second weekend in a row.
The under 15s enjoyed a 12-game win streak through the middle stretch of the season to have the top of the table in their sights but a series of draws towards the end of the season ended those hopes.
They're now up against a Tigers side who have lost just two of their 30 matches this year and beat Western on both occasions (3-0 and 1-0) they met this season.
Meanwhile, the Western 16s meet Hawkesbury again just seven days after they played out a nil-all draw.
The result cost Western an opportunity to jump up to second place on the ladder but they'll back themselves to turn things in their favour when they come together again on neutral ground.
Hawkesbury won the previous meeting between the pair, 1-0, in their clash at Mudgee's Glen Willow Sporting Complex back in May.
Western 15s and 16s coach Scott Mutton said the mixed bag of results for his teams in the run towards semi-finals has given him plenty of talking points ahead of their sudden death matches.
"The 15s have just struggled to take chances towards the end of the season. We had three nil-all draws over the last five games. We just haven't been as clinical as what we were at the start of the season," he said.
"Teams are defending their box a lot better as well. We're still dominating our games but teams are defending their half better and counter-attacking more.
"We also fell away late in that loss to Gladesville with a couple of errors and not taking chances, but that's football."
Just like the weekend gone, Mutton expects the 16s clash to go down to the wire.
"We played them on the weekend. This one will be a tight, close game for sure," he said.
"I think playing on the synthetic will suit us against them. The 16s have a bit more physicality about them than the 15s and they're a bit braver in their challenges.
"They're a big chance. The last few seasons they've finished towards the bottom of the ladder so they've done unbelievably well."
Mutton said the recent wet weather hasn't helped the club's preparation for the big game but given the work they've put in through the season he's proud of the level the teams have been able to reach.
"Rain hasn't helped but I think, mentally, the boys will switch on for this one because it's knockout from this point on," he said.
"It's first-versus-fourth and second-versus-third, then straight into a grand final, so it's not a long finals series, because we had a 30-game competition.
"Western have never played in a season that long before, so both age groups have done an unbelievable job. A grand final appearance for them would be great."
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