NPL Victoria – Round 20 Preview

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Melbourne Knights V Avondale

Last 5 (Knights): Port Melbourne (2-1 Loss), Dandenong City (0-2 Loss), Heidelberg United (0-1 Loss), Altona Magic (1-2 Win), Oakleigh Cannons (0-1 Loss)

Last 5 (Avondale): Green Gully (1-2 Loss), Pascoe Vale (2-5 Win), South Melbourne (0-3 Win), Kingston City (1-3 Win), Port Melbourne (1-1 Draw)

Melbourne Knights and Avondale will resume what has become a bitter rivalry, with their third matchup of the season. Avondale prevailed 2-1 in the reverse fixture in March, which will be remembered for a controversial first half send off to Tomislav Uskok. Knights however were able to avenge their early season defeat, with victory in the 6th round of the FFA Cup, where the Knights required extra-time to prevail 2-1. Knights will need to break a bad run of form in order to overcome the league leaders, whilst Avondale will be looking to increase their lead at the top, with a win at a venue they called home for 2 seasons.

Prediction: Avondale to win 3-1. Liam Boland and Hamish Watson

Oakleigh Cannons V Bentleigh Greens

Last 5 (Oakleigh): Altona Magic (1-0 Win), Kingston City (3-2 Win), Dandenong Thunder (3-5 Win), Hume City (1-1 Draw)

Last 5 (Bentleigh): Dandenong Thunder (1-3 Loss), Hume City (0-2 Win), Melbourne Knights (4-0 Win), Green Gully (1-1 Draw), Pascoe Vale (3-1 Win)

Oakleigh will be looking to maintain their status as the competitions in-form team, when they welcome Bentleigh to Jack Edwards Reserve on Friday night. The Greens will be keen to put last weeks defeat to Dandy Thunder behind them. They will come into the match however with some confidence, after not having lost to Oakleigh since the 2016 NPL Victoria semi-final. That being said, Oakleigh will also be confident, with English forward Harry White having scored 5 goals in his 4 matches for the club.

Prediction: 2-2 draw.

GREEN GULLY V SOUTH MELBOURNE

Last 5 (Gully): Avondale (1-2 Win), Port Melbourne (3-3 Draw), Dandenong City (2-2 Draw), Bentleigh Greens (1-1 Draw), Heidelberg United (1-1 Draw)

Last 5 (South): Pascoe Vale (1-0 Win), Kingston City (2-0 Loss), Avondale FC (0-3 Loss), Port Melbourne Sharks (2-1 Win), Dandenong City (3-0 Loss)

Green Gully last week chose the perfect moment to break their streak of no wins from 7 matches, a run which included 4 straight draws, with a come from behind win against table topping Avondale. Key man Alex Salmon was again on target, and currently sits equal top of the Golden Boot race, with Avondale’s Liam Boland, on 18 goals each. South Melbourne also come into the round on the back of a win against lackluster Pascoe Vale, a match in which South themselves looked an out of form team. However, South have historically held the bragging rights in the matchup of former NSL heavyweights, but will need to stop Gully man Salmon if they wish to continue that dominance.

Predicton: South Melbourne to win 3-1, and be in a Finals spot at the end of the round.

Hume city V Port melbourne sharks

Last 5 (Hume): Dandenong City (1-0 Loss), Bentleigh Greens (0-2 Loss), Heidelberg United (1-2 Win), Altona Magic (2-0 Win), Oakleigh Cannons (1-1 Draw)

Last 5 (Port Melbourne): Melbourne Knights (2-1 Win), Green Gully (3-3 Draw), Pascoe Vale (4-0 Win), South Melbourne (2-1 Loss), Avondale (1-1 Draw)

After having qualified for the FFA Cup National round of 32, Hume City have found mixed fortune, but have still found themselves somewhat comfortably in the top 4. However, Port Melbourne are apart of a group of no less than 5 teams, separated by less than 3 points, fighting for a finals spot. A win for Hume can put distance between themselves and the chasing pack, whilst Port could find themselves sitting in the top 6 if results go their way. Interesting to note that Port Melbourne have only won 1 in their last 7 away league matches, whilst Hume have won 4 of their last 5 home league matches.

Prediction: Home advantage for Hume, who will win 2-0.

Altona Magic V Heidelberg United

Last 5 (Magic): Kingston City (3-1 Win), Oakleigh Cannons (1-0 Loss), Dandenong Thunder (3-2 Win), Hume City (2-0 Loss), Melbourne Knights (1-2 Loss)

Last 5 (Heidelberg): Dandenong Thunder (2-5 Win), Hume City (1-2 Loss), Melbourne Knights (0-1 Win), Green Gully (1-1 Draw), Pascoe Vale (1-3 Win)

Heidelberg will come into the match fresh after their round 19 tie against Oakleigh was cancelled due to poor pitch condition. However, Magic have been this seasons surprise package, currently sitting in 6th spot and holding the last finals place. Paisley Park has been a difficult place for most teams to travel to this season, but Heidelberg are looking catch league leaders Avondale, and a win could put them within 4 points of top spot, with a game in hand.

Prediction: Heidelberg to beat Magic 1-0 in a tight encounter

Dandenong Thunder V Dandenong City

Last 5 (Thunder): Bentleigh Greens (3-1 Win), Heidelberg United (2-5 Loss), Altona Magic (3-2 Loss), Oakleigh Cannons (3-5 Loss), Kingston City (0-3 Loss)

Last 5 (City): Hume City (1-0 Win), Melbourne Knights (0-2 Win), Green Gully (2-2 Draw), Pascoe Vale (1-4 Win), South Melbourne (3-0 Win)

The Match of the round sees Thunder host City in the Dandenong Derby. The first ever NPL ‘Dandy Derby’ saw City race to a 3-0 lead at half time, before Thunder managed the mightiest of comebacks to claim a 4-3 victory. Since then however, City’s fortunes have turned, managing to sign former A-League trio Carl Valeri, Adrian Leijer. and striker Brendon Santalab, who has managed 5 goals since signing, and also jumping out of the relegation zone and within 6 points of a finals spot. Thunder on the other hand, come into the match with only 1 win from their last 10 NPL matches, and are sitting 3rd from bottom, and in a relegation spot. Brandon Barnes continues to bang goals in despite the poor form of his team, scoring 7 in Thunder’s last 4 matches.

Prediction: Dandenong City to win 4-2 and avenge early season derby disaster,

Kingston City V Pascoe Vale

Last 5 (Kingston City): Altona Magic (3-1 Loss), South Melbourne (0-2 Win), Oakleigh Cannons (3-2 Loss), Avondale FC (1-3 Loss), Dandenong City (0-2 Win)

Last 5 (Pascoe Vale): South Melbourne (1-0 Loss), Avondale FC (2-5 Loss), Port Melbourne Sharks (4-0 Loss), Dandenong City (1-4 Loss), Bentleigh Greens (3-1 Loss)

On paper, not much can be said about these 2 teams right now other than this; they will both likely be playing NPL 2 football next season. The saving grace for both of these sides is that they are both within 2 points of Dandenong Thunder, currently occupying the lone promotion/relegation playoff place. If things werent already looking bad for Pascoe Vale, who are on a run of 6 straight losses, last week lost Davey Van’t Schip to a mid season transfer to State League 1 side Essendon Royals (former manager Vitale Ferrante is now coach of the royals). Kingston on the other hand will look to use the experience of last season’s great escape to push for results coming into the last 7 rounds of the season.

Prediction: Kington City to win 3-1 and push Pascoe Vale closer to the drop.

Written by Lachlan Spiteri