As the finish line fast approaches in the NPL 1 and NPL 2 seasons, a few stumbles have taken place amongst the leaders. But those in close pursuit have failed to take advantage during last week’s catch-up round.
The catch-up round could have proven potentially costly to NPL 1 leader Heidelberg United’s chances of landing their first ever NPL 1 Premiership Plate and breaking the South Melbourne-Bentleigh Greens duopoly. Following their headline-grabbing win over A-League team Perth Glory in the FFA Cup, the Bergers stumbled spectacularly with a 5-1 loss away to a desperate Oakleigh Cannons team just three days later. However, with close rival South Melbourne also stumbling by losing their catch-up game to Avondale 2-0, Heidelberg still holds their fate in their hands.
The Bergers need just four points from their two remaining matches beginning with Kingston City this Sunday, to clinch the Premier’s Plate and complete the Premiership Cup double, thus emulating Bentleigh Greens’ feat of last year.
On the same day, South will host arch rival Bentleigh Greens with both teams knowing they need to win to have a chance of catching the Bergers or at least finishing in the top two. A draw could open the door for Avondale to jump above both into second spot.
Seventh-placed Oakleigh Cannons’ win over Heidelberg last Friday, kept their chances of finals football alive. Their fate will depend on the outcome of their match against sixth-placed Pascoe Vale tonight with just one point separating both teams before this round.
Another team with their fate in their hands is NPL 2 W leader Northcote City, despite a stumble in their last match. Northcote supporters will be hoping the week’s rest during last week’s catch-up round will help the team return to winning ways when they host an improved Nunawading City on Saturday.
Last week Nunawading did Northcote a favour by holding second-placed Moreland Zebras to a 1-1 draw during the catch-up round, enabling Northcote to have a five-point cushion going into the last three rounds. Northcote needs just two wins from their last three matches to make sure of the title and automatic promotion back into the top tier. But it won’t be easy with games to come against Nunawading (home), Moreland City (away), and Sunshine George Cross (home).