Kingston City’s upset 1-0 win over reigning NPL champions Heidelberg United at the Grange last Monday, showed that the Reds are not yet ready to give up the fight to escape relegation this season. The result was a blow to the Berger’s hopes of pipping Avondale in the race for the Premier’s Plate, and now it remains in a battle with Bentleigh Greens for the all important second place on the league table.
An early low cross from Kingston winger Chris Irwin eluded all players and found its way into the net for the only goal of the game and a vital three points for Kingston.
Speaking on Kingston City FC Media post match, Reds coach Nick Tolios praised his team’s performance against the Bergers. “Credit to our boys because that’s what you need to do when you’re trying to survive in this league. You’ve got to put on performances like that especially defensively. I’m just happy for the boys. They deserve to be sitting higher, but that’s football. That’s where we are. The points don’t lie. We’re fighting for our lives in every game leading up to the end of the season,” he told Neos Kosmos.
Kingston’s run home isn’t an easy one with matches against three top six teams in the remaining five rounds beginning this Saturday with an away trip to fourth placed Green Gully which is undefeated in its last seven matches. Alex Salmon leads the Gully attack with 19 goals this season and Kingston’s defence will be trying to stop him adding further to that impressive tally.
This weekend’s NPL Rd 22 also features a couple of crucial Greek derbies. Oakleigh Cannons extended its impressive unbeaten run into double figures with a 3-1 win over neighbours Dandenong City last week in a match in which former Golden Boot winner Milos Lujic celebrated his return to the starting line-up for the first time in months, with a brace of goals. Lujic reminded fans of why he was a serial winner of the NPL Golden Boot award. If he can continue his goal scoring feats, the Cannons will have formidable depth in attack going into the finals. This week, the sixth placed Cannons were to host seventh placed Port Melbourne in a derby game. The Cannons also feature in a mid-week practise match on Tuesday evening at home to A-League side Melbourne City under its new coach Eric Mombaerts.
The second Greek derby this round, is a match between the two contenders for second spot on the table, Bentleigh Greens and Heidelberg United. Both teams have been a little inconsistent in recent weeks. The Bergers won the earlier league encounter at Olympic Village 2-0.
On a busy Saturday evening, South Melbourne travels to fifth placed Hume City in search of points to keep alive its chances of making the finals.
In NPL 2, Roundd 22 action on Saturday, third placed Northcote City hosts fourth placed Manningham United Blues, Box Hill United is away to Melbourne City and Brunswick City hosts St Albans Saints.