NPL Victoria – Round 24 Recap: Green Gully finally reach the inevitable and Heidelberg one win away from glory

Melbourne Knights 3-2 Port Melbourne 

In what was one of the most important games of the round in the context of the top six; Melbourne Knights stole the three points in the final minutes to keep their finals hopes alive.

The match lived up to its billing as one of the matches of the round, and it was a 91st minute winner that would be the difference. Kym Harris’ second of the night was the goal that means that Knights are just one point adrift of Port Melbourne, who are now in sixth.

Former A-League attacking midfielder Francesco Stella opened the scoring after just four minutes, but two goals in a matter of minutes before half-time put the Croatian club ahead at the break. The Sharks brought it back to 2-2 in the 56th minute through substitute James Papadimitriou, but it would be Harris who would steal the show in the final moments.

Knights are realistically the only side outside the top six now who can make the step inside, and it may be this winner that decides which of these two teams play finals football.

Pascoe Vale 3-1 Dandenong Thunder

If you look up ‘in-form’ in a photographic dictionary, you will find a picture of Nic Abot. Seven goals in just eleven games for the attacker included a hatrick on Friday night; a trio of goals that has just about buried Dandenong Thunder’s quest for the top six.

Two goals in the first half and one in the second had Pascoe Vale flying at 3-0, playing the type of football that they have consistently been able to play at home.

A real dark horse for the NPL Victoria championship this season, Pascoe Vale and their x-factor in Abot ensures that they will be able to threaten any side – this was really on display throughout Friday night’s game.

For the Thunder, a red card in the 44th minute really exposed the defensive issues they’ve suffered from all season. Nick Modaffari saw red just before the break and almost ensured that there would be no chance of a comeback.

They were able to snatch a goal back, but it was as late as the 94th minute. Dandenong are five points outside the top six with just six points left to play for. Conversely, they are just three points above the relegation zone despite being in 9th position. Still a bit of work to do just yet.

Northcote 2-4 Bulleen

If Northcote were any chance of surviving this season, this was simply a must-win. Bulleen have been on the bottom all year and a home fixture against them at this point of the season was supposed to be the game that got their late push for survival rolling.

But this isn’t how the game played out. Two goals in the first six minutes from Jordan Templin had Bulleen flying, despite their season already being over.

Seeming as if they were simply out to spoil Northcote’s last chance of survival, Bulleen extended their two goal margin to three as it was 4-1 within 55 minutes.

Templin completed his hatrick as the Lions relegated Northcote.

There are just six points left to play for and they are six points behind Green Gully in third bottom, but also 14 goals behind. They have the worst goal difference in the league and while they are mathematically still able to survive, it simply will not happen.

Avondale 1-2 Bentleigh

A huge win from Bentleigh put their hopes of doing something special in finals in a more positive light, as they managed to put poor form behind them to beat Avondale on their home deck.

After being caught and pushed out of the top two last weekend by the Avengers, Bentleigh were out for revenge, looking as they were only interested in taking back their spot.

But it wasn’t just the three points, but the way they rescued the three points that was the real story. A 1-0 lead for Avondale heading into injury time seemed as if it would be enough to claim a massive three points for a side that has flown under the radar all season.

Bentleigh had other ideas thouhg, as two goals in second half stoppage time saw them steal the victory. Words simply cannot describe the scenes and cannot describe how much of a steal this really was, so make sure to check out the highlights below. Avondale look set to finish in third; a spot they’ve sat in for most of this season.

Hume City 0-2 Oakleigh Cannons

Speaking of sides who have flown under the radar, Oakleigh will most likely play finals this season despite occupying the middle part of the table throughout the whole year.

They have won the games they needed to win, and struggled against the sides above them; but they are in and around the areas they would have wished to be around before the start of the season, and this win against Hume proved that they indeed could be a force.

A result in either of their last two fixtures should see Oakleigh seal their place in the six, while the home loss at ABD Stadium leaves Hume under a bit of pressure still. W

hoever finishes in the promotion-relegation playoff spot will have finished on a pretty high points tally, and only a win or two outside of the finals places. A close season will culminate in a tight battle to avoid that playoff are place; for now, Hume are just one point above the zone.

South Melbourne 1-4 Kingston 

In many eyes, Kingston were among the expected sides to be relegated this season, but they have almost survived against the odds.

They are now on the same amount of points as South Melbourne and mathematically can make the top six. It’s highly unlikely, but those at Kingston will simply be happy to ensure their NPL status for next season.

It wasn’t just a win at South Melbourne, but a convincing one at that, as they crushed the Greek juggernauts on their home soil.

The scores were tied at 1-1 at half time and it seemed as if a point was in the works, one that Kingston may have taken. However, nobody would have expected the onslaught that Kingston would come up with in the second period.

Alex Caniglia’s first two goals of the season could not have come at a better time; two goals that secured the big win for City.

It is more than likely that both these sides will fill the gaps between the top six and the bottom three, and neither will have any current issues with that when thinking about the rollercoaster of a season that both sides had.

Heidelberg 4-1 Green Gully

This game summed up both sides to a tee. Heidelberg have time and time again displayed their ability to punish their opponents in short spurs, right when they need it. For Gully, they have been unable to put together 90 minutes of football for a few months now, and this is why they are sitting where they are.

Gully threatened to cause one of the latter season’s biggest upsets when they led 1-0, but a goal in the last few minutes of the first half from the Bergers was a huge dagger in the heart of a Gully side who didn’t look like a relegation-threatened side in the first half-an-hour.

Heidelberg simply ran away with it in the second half, piling on the goals. The game finished 4-1 as they similarly run away with the top spot, something they can seal with a win this Sunday in their catch-up game against South Melbourne. Green Gully on the other hand have been threatening to sink into the relegation zone for weeks, if not months, and it has finally happened.

The new change in management seems to not be helping, as they plant themselves in 12th place with two weeks to go. There is still time, but it will have to be a late rush for survival.



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