This weekend’s round of NPL matches marks the half way point of both NPL 1 and NPL 2 league seasons. Last week’s round saw Oakleigh Cannons, Heidelberg United, and Avondale all notch impressive wins on the road whilst South Melbourne slipped into the top six for the first time this season with a scoreless away draw at Bentleigh Greens. The result extended the Lakesiders’ impressive run of clean sheets to four matches, all the more noteworthy because it was achieved at a venue where they have leaked goals in recent visits. For the Greens, the match proved costly with two defenders Archibald and Jankovic receiving red cards ahead of this round’s visit to Oakleigh Cannons.
Another Greek derby takes place on Monday evening when Kingston City hosts South Melbourne. The two teams have experienced contrasting fortunes in recent weeks with Kingston winning just one of their last six league matches and slipping to 10th on the table whereas South has won five of their last six starts, rising into the top six and on the verge of qualifying for the Round of 32 of the FFA Cup.
After Kingston’s first home loss of the season to Heidelberg United last week, Kingston boss Nick Tolios said he’s hoping for an improvement defensively from his team.
“In this league you don’t give teams opportunities. Every time we have we’ve been punished. I think it has happened a [few]too many times for our liking. Defensively, if you want to be a good side and challenge and especially stay in this league, you’ve got to stop conceding. For me the pressure’s on defensively as a unit. We’ve got to get a lot better.”
Third-placed Heidelberg United will be shooting for a third win in a row on Sunday when they host 11th-placed Bulleen Lions. Bergers forward Sean Ellis is in red-hot scoring form at the moment with his goal against Kingston last week taking his season tally to eight, putting him second behind Pascoe Vale’s Davey Van’t Schip in the race for the Golden Boot.
Port Melbourne Sharks probably have the toughest assignment this week when they visit league leader Avondale FC today. The Sharks defeated St Albans Saints 3-2 last week thanks to a brace from Fraser Hills and a single to ex-Canberra Olympic striker Phillippe Bernabo-Madrid.
In NPL 2 West action, the match of the round looks like Saturday’s clash between league leader Northcote City and fourth-placed Moreland City at John Cain Reserve. Mid-table Brunswick City hosts struggling Bendigo City, who last weekend conceded seven goals to Box Hill United, in a match that more than doubled Box Hill’s season tally of goals. On Saturday Box Hill United host Nunawading City in a game both teams will be looking to win to move further away from the relegation zone. Box Hill announced the recent signing of experienced attacking midfielder Dominic Furness of whom coach Greg Kassidas says, “Dom is a gifted midfielder with a wealth of professional international experience. He has great skill, vision, and leadership which are the right for for Box Hill in 2017 and beyond.”