With the NPL season just over the halfway point, a number of clubs have scrambled into action in response to the recently opened transfer window, resulting in a flurry of player movements in and out of clubs.
Amongst the most active during the window thus far has been Port Melbourne Sharks which has acquired six new players including two new full backs Anthony Colosimo and 21-year-old Perry Lambropoulos who leaves Oakleigh Cannons to join the Sharks. Also joining the Sharks are Kiwi attacking midfielder Zane Sole, Roberto Stella (ex- Avondale FC and younger brother of Francesco) and Sam Beninato (ex-Hume City). The latest player to join the Sharks influx is striker James Papadimitriou who joins from NPL 2 West League leader Northcote City.
The Sharks lost 2-1 to South Melbourne in a fiery derby at Lakeside last round and played another derby on Friday night against Oakleigh Cannons, the result of which was unavailable at the time of writing. The Cannons have also been busy during the transfer window with several players on the move. Speedy Canadian striker Nate Foster departs ending his second stint at the club, after struggling to match the goal scoring form of his first spell at Oakleigh. Foster joins NPL 2 East club, Springvale White Eagles.
Two of the biggest names to move during the transfer window are ex-Bentleigh Greens skipper and Hume City midfielder Wayne Wallace. The Cannons have recruited Wallace and they’ll be hoping the 32-year-old’s leadership and strong will to win will bolster the team as it makes a run for a top two finish. Joining Wallace at the Cannons is Brazillian defender Janiel Silva who joins from Whittlesea Ranges.
South Melbourne FC has released three players including midfielders Gavin De Niese and Liam McCormick who have departed to join NPL2 clubs Springvale White Eagles and Dandenong City respectively. The third to leave is central defender Carl Piergianni who has reportedly returned home to England. South will no doubt look to strengthen its squad as it prepares for a busy schedule of FFA Cup, Dockerty Cup, and League campaigns.
In other transfer news, former Heidelberg, Northcote, and South Springvale forward Zois Galanopoulos has joined NPL 2 club Dandenong Thunder.
In Dockerty Cup news, the FFV has released the Dockerty Cup semi-final fixtures. Heidelberg United plays Hume City on Wednesday 21 June at JL Murphy Reserve in Port Melbourne whilst in the other semi, two great rivals South Melbourne FC and Bentleigh Greens face off at Jack Edwards Reserve in Oakleigh on Thursday 22 June.
The three Greek-based Cup semi-finalists also currently occupy the top three spots of the NPL 1 League table after 15 rounds. Heidelberg, with a game in hand, is outright leader following an emphatic 3-0 win over early pacesetter Avondale FC last week. The Bergers took command by scoring two unanswered goals in the first half through Zahra and Petrie before Ken Athiu scored a penalty in injury time to take his season tally to nine goals. The Bergers will be favourites to keep their winning momentum when they visit bottom team St Albans Saints this Sunday.
Bentleigh Greens are in hot pursuit of the Bergers with last week’s 3-0 home win over North Geelong Warriors. Honos, Thurtell, and Brennan were the scorers. This round the Greens played the struggling Melbourne Knights away on Friday night.
In other NPL 1 action this weekend, 12th-placed Kingston City travels down the Princess Highway to Geelong to take on 13th-placed North Geelong Warriors in a match both teams will be desperate for the three points to help climb away from relegation danger.
South Melbourne’s match against Avondale this round, has been postponed till the catch-up round due to the unavailability of Lakeside Stadium.