The NPL home and away season reaches a dramatic climax this Sunday with all the seven final round matches kicking off at the same time.
Will Heidelberg or Avondale win the Premier’s Plate? Which two teams amongst Dandenong Thunder, Kingston City and Pascoe Vale will be relegated and which team will survive to make the relegation play-off? Which two teams amongst Bentleigh, Green Gully, Oakleigh and Hume will finish in the top four and earn a home final in the first week of the elimination finals?
All these questions remain to be answered this Sunday.
At Lakeside oval, Heidelberg United fans will be hoping to celebrate an unprecedented third Premiers Plate in a row, which they will if the Bergers can defeat their traditional rival South Melbourne.
The Bergers reclaimed top spot from Avondale for the first time this season, with their dramatic injury time 3-2 win over Avondale in last week’s epic match at Avenger Park.
Amidst euphoric scenes after the match, Bergers coach George Katsakis praised his team’s will to win. “We need to keep working. We need to remain level headed. Nothing’s done yet. We’re only on top of the league and there’s another game to go. I’ve seen funnier things happen in football. We need to prepare , we need to be ready for it,” Katsakis told HUFC TV.
When asked about how it would feel to win the minor Premiership at Lakeside against the old foe, Katsakis replied, “Tradition is tradition and football games are football games. The most important thing is we make our people proud. It doesn’t matter where we win it, as long as we do. It’s very crucial. It would be a pity to drive through this season, the way we did and keep coming at it. I keep saying this, only 6-7 weeks ago, we were ten points behind. And today we’re two points ahead in second place. It doesn’t matter where it is. The win is the most important thing, and winning another minor premiership is incredibly crucial to the whole club.”
If South manages to take points off the Bergers, and Avondale defeats Bentleigh Greens at Kingston Heath, the Premiers Plate will go to Avengers Park for the first time. The Greens, are clinging on to fourth spot on the ladder, knowing a loss on Sunday could tip them out of the four. Last week a George Lambadaridis’ equaliser earned them a point at Port Melbourne.
Oakleigh Cannons could be one of the teams which replace the Greens in the top four if it can defeat third placed Green Gully at home on Sunday.
Meanwhile Kingston City, missed an opportunity to climb out of the automatic relegation spots last Monday when it lost 1-3 at home to Dandenong City. Making matters worse for the Reds will be the absence of experienced defender Faisal Sakhizada for their final game of the season away to Hume City, after the defender was red carded early in the game against Dandenong City.
On Sunday, Kingston City fans will be keeping a close eye on the score from the Dandenong Thunder and Melbourne Knights. A win to Thunder will doom Kingston to NPL 2 next season, but a win to the Knights, means Kingston will have to at least draw its game away to Hume City, to make the relegation play-off ahead of Thunder.