Two of the pre-season NPL 1 favourites, Heidelberg United and Bentleigh Greens, opened their 2017 campaigns with wins last week.
The Greens made the most impressive start of the season, following on from their Community Shield win, by defeating Green Gully 3-0 at home last Friday evening. A first-half goal to Ross Honos was his second goal in two weeks. Honos’ goal was followed by second-half strikes from Matt Thurtell and substitute Andy Brennan, whose curling left footer from the edge of the box flew into the top corner, delighting the 500 or so Kingston Heath fans.
On Saturday Bentleigh travels to newly-promoted North Geelong Warriors, which opened its account last week with a 1-1 draw away to Pascoe Vale.
The Bergers last week defeated Port Melbourne Sharks 1-0 at home in a tight opening match, courtesy of a goal by striker Kenny Athiu. Former Bergers striker Kaine Sheppard, who surprisingly departed the club late in the pre-season to join Avondale FC, makes his return to Olympic Village on Saturday afternoon when Heidelberg hosts Avondale.
Avondale has recruited strongly this season and apart from Sheppard, has signed several experienced NPL players including keeper Chris Oldfield, Craig Carley, Rama Tancancioglu and Peter Franjic from Hume City, Evan Christodoulou from Green Gully and Kamal Ibrahim from Bentleigh Greens and James Riccobene from Port Melbourne Sharks.
Like the Bergers, Avondale started its season with a 1-0 win last week against newly-promoted St Albans Saints, thanks to a goal to debutante Sheppard. Fans can expect another intriguing battle at the Village.
Rounding out the NPL 1 action will be a Monday evening clash at the Grange, when Kingston City hosts Green Gully. City will be without suspended central striker Sean McIlroy, who played an important part in City coming from behind to rescue a point in last week’s 2-2 draw at Oakleigh Cannons.
Other NPL1 matches were played on Friday night, the results of which were unavailable at the time of writing. They include Port Melbourne Sharks versus South Melbourne , and Oakleigh Cannons versus FC Bulleen Lions.
In NPL 2 W, Northcote City sits on top of the table after its second win in a row last week, courtesy of a first- half penalty from skipper Josh Knight against the Melbourne Victory Youth team. City’s defence is yet to concede a goal this season, and the team will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of wins when it hosts fourth-placed Ballarat City in the late afternoon kick-off at John Cain Reserve on Saturday.
Another undefeated side is third- placed Brunswick City, which came from behind to draw 1-1 away to Werribee last week thanks to an Adam Wright header. City keeper Seb Mattei then made two crucial saves to prevent the Bees taking the lead for a second time in the match.
Today Brunswick travels to Epping stadium to take on eighth-placed Whittlesea Ranges.
If you needed concrete proof that goals win matches, consider NPL 2 E side Box Hill United. They’re undefeated after two rounds without conceding a goal. But they’re also winless because they’re yet to find the net. United will be hoping to get into the winners circle when it travels to Shepparton on Sunday evening to take on Goulburn Valley Suns.
Last but not least, the inaugural Womens Community Shield will be contested at Olympic Village on Sunday when Team App Cup winner Heidelberg United hosts NPL-Womens champions Calder United. The match kick-off is at 3.00 pm.