Excitement filled the air as the long-awaited action finally kicked off.

The 2024 season opened with a bang for the “Greek” clubs, with an impressive three out of four teams in the NPL’s first division clinching a triumphant victory and securing three points each.

The excitement kicked off on Thursday (8/2) night as South Melbourne triumphed over the Melbourne Knights with a nail-biting 1-0 victory, claiming the highly anticipated first derby win of the season.

Oakleigh Cannons – Manningham United

The following day, Chris Taylor and his Cannons welcomed Manningham United with the sole aim of starting the season with a win.

Fortunately, for the approximately 1500 football fans who filled the stands, the Cannons not only won, but also played some beautiful and effective football at times.

The home team took possession of the ball comfortably, did not leave gaps in the back, and utilized key players such as Salmon, Guest, and the newcomer Adus – who created the first goal of the match – to secure a victory in the season opener.

The speedy winger counter-attacked, passed to Salmon at the right time and the English striker calmly and comfortably managed to open the scoring in just the 8th minute of the match.

In the 35th minute, Joe Guest, the team captain, received the ball and scored the second goal for his team by nodding Stefano Valentini’s cross into the net.

The ball had been brought down by Salmon with impressive control after Felly’s 40m volley.

The creator of the second goal, Valentini, was the scorer of the 3 – 0.

The talented winger missed several good chances during the match but finally managed to get on the scoresheet in the 83rd minute, putting a tombstone on any hopes the Manningham players had of turning the match around.

The Greek …color was prominent in the lineups of the two teams, with a total of six Greek players competing.

Iliopoulos played for Taylor’s team, while the visitors started the game with Theodorakopoulos, Georgopoulos, Skopelitis, Tzamuranis, and Voulgaris.

Altona Magic – Heidelberg United

Coach Anastasiadis and his team at Heidelberg United delivered an incredible performance, showcasing their virtues by comfortably overcoming the obstacle of Altona Magic.

Despite the final score only being 0-1, the Yellow and Black dominated the game from the beginning, leaving no opportunities for the home team to retaliate.

The ball was circulated proficiently by the team, effectively closing off any gaps in their defensive line.

With better fortune, they could have potentially increased their score to a victorious level. The scorer was Asahi Yokokawa. The Japanese midfielder received the ball at the edge of the box and meticulously placed it into the opposing team’s goal with a forceful shot.

The debut of the black and yellow…samurai demonstrated his quality right away.

Apostolopoulos, another standout, displayed some amazing skills, leaving plenty of promise for the future.

Port Melbourne Sharks – St Albans Saints

Nick Marinos’ group from Port Melbourne did not manage to achieve victory on their home ground despite their attempts to break the defensive line of the guests and create good goal-scoring opportunities. However, they were only able to earn one point in the end.

This was Coach Marino’s first official match in the NPL’s top division.

His team showed some very positive elements, including good circulation and a fast pace in its game.

The new players also showed that they have the quality to help the team achieve its goals. Among the many positives of the day, the strong presence of the club’s fans was notable as they showed their support for their beloved Sharks.

Hellas vs Melbourne Knights. Photo: Con Deves

NPL1 Victoria men: Huge home win for Kingston City

The debut of the Blue and White teams competing in the second division of the NPL Men’s Victoria had less success compared to those competing in the NPL’s first division.

Kingston City was the only Greek club to start the season with a win as they managed to defeat Western United 2-1.

Northcote City and Brunswick City were the first to enter the dance on Friday night.

On that night, Melbourne Victory visited Iraklis’ home ground (Northcote) and handed them a nightmare by scoring three goals while Iraklis only managed to score one.

Leonidas (Brunswick City) outplayed the Eastern Lions throughout the entire match, yet they failed to secure the three points as the two teams ended in a 1-1 draw.

Consequently, the points and impressions were shared.

The following day Bentleigh Greens traveled to Langwarrin to take on the local clu.

The Greens were defeated 2 – 0 and left the pitch with no points in the bank due to their failure to display a positive performance.

NPL – Results

South Melbourne – Melbourne Knights 1 – 0 (4′ H. Sawyer)

Green Gully – Moreland 1 – 0 (35′ L. Tavere)

Oakleigh Cannons – Manningham United 2 – 0 (8′ A. Salmon, 35′ J. Guest, 83′ S. Valentini)

Avondale – Dandenong City 4 – 3 (13′ Y. Ahmed [P], 30′ C. Cuba, 66′ S. Zini, 81′ L. Diaz – 45+1′ Th. Giannakopoulos, 82′ K. Bryant, 88 T. Atherinos)

Port Melbourne Sharks – St Albans Saints 0 – 0

Altona Magic – Heidelberg United 0 – 1 (30′ A. Yokokawa)

Dandenong Thunder – Hume City 1 – 2 (25′ W. Dekker – 49′ A. Abdallah, 90+5′ L. Isgrove)

NPL – Table

1. Oakl. Cannons 1 3

2. Avondale 1 3

3. Hume City 1 3

4. Green Gully 1 3

5. Heidelberg Utd 1 3

6. South Mel 1 3

7. St Albans 1 1

8. Port Mel 1 1

9. Dande City 1 0

10. Dande Thunder 1 0

11. Altona Magic 1 0

12. Mel Knights 1 0

13. Moreland City 1 0

14. Manningham United 1 0

NPL1 – Results

Werribee City – North Geelong 3 – 0

Northcote City – Melbourne Victory (K23) 1 – 3

Brunswick City – Eastern Lions 1 – 1

Caroline Springs – Melbourne City (K23) 3 – 2

Langwarrin – Bentleigh Greens 2 – 0

Western United (K23) – Kingston City 1 – 2

Bulleen Lions – Preston Lions to be played on Monday (12/2)

NPL1 – Table

1. Werribee 1 3

2. Mel Victory 1 3

3. Langwarrin 1 3

4. Caroline Springs 1 3

5. Kingston City 1 3

6. Eastern Lions 1 1

7. Brun. City 1 1

8. Bulleen 0 0

9. Preston Lions 0 0

10. Western Utd 1 0

11. Melb. City 1 0

12. Northcote City 1 0

13. Bentleigh G 1 0

14. North Geelong 1 0