NPL Victoria Week 1: Back underway

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Victoria got the 2015 National Premier Leagues season underway at the weekend as grassroots football action returned to the southern state.

Last year’s champs South Melbourne continued where they left off in 2014 by defeating runners up Oakleigh Cannons while Port Melbourne Sharks offered up the big surprise of the weekend by defateing Hume City on the road.

The restructured second-tier NPL1 got underway at the weekend also with some surprise results and brand new teams highlighting the action.

South Melbourne 1 (Adam Le Cornu 23′ OG)
Oakleigh Cannons 0
Lakeside Stadium

South Melbourne started the season the only way they know how, by winning. Last year’s winners and runners up kicked off the season on Thursday night in front of a healthy crowd at Lakeside.

An even game throughout was decided by an Adam Le Cornu own-goal midway through the first half after the defender last year’s Golden Boot winner Milos Lujic’s shot was saved by Cannons ‘keeper John Honos only to bounce off the hapless Le Cornu and into the back of the net.

Melbourne Knights 3 (Josh Brekalo 52′, Andrew Barisic 64′, Alex Dao 90+3)
Avondale Heights 1 (Chris Irwin 35′)
Knights Stadium
Melbourne Knights were forced to come from behind against promoted Avondale Heights at home to start their campaign off with a win.

Playing in Victoria’s top-flight for the first time in the clubs history, the 2014 NPL1 winners had a shock lead in the 35th minute as Chris Irwin benefited from a mistake by Knights custodian Chris May. Knights, however, regrouped after the break with three second half goals to sink a resilient Avondale.

Bentleigh Greens 2 (Matthew Thurtell 37’, Jaime De Abreu 87’)
North Geelong Warriors 0
Kingston Heath Soccer Complex

Fellow newbies North Geelong also had a tough initiation to life with the big boys going down to FFA Cup semi-finalist Bentleigh Greens in their first top-flight game in 20 years.

Goals in both halves sealed the points for a Greens side who are tipped to push South Melbourne for the title this season. The Warriors were in the game for much of the evening but class prevailed in the end as Jaime De Arbreu put the game out of their reach three minutes from time.

Heidelberg United 3 (Daniel Vasilevski 22′, 69′, Kaine Sheppard 26′)
Pascoe Vale 0
Epping Stadium
Last year’s surprise packet Heidelberg started their new season with a bang, overpowering Pascoe Vale 3-0 thanks to a double from one-time Victory man Daniel Vasilevski.

The ‘Bergers controlled the match from start to finish and were never troubled by a disappointing Vale outfit. Vasilevski’s first goal came through fortunate circumstances Pascoe Vale ‘keeper Stefaan Sardelic made a mess of a routine save allowing the shot from 25-yards out go behind him for a goal. His second however was all class as another shot from distance had the ‘keeper beaten on all fronts.

Hume City 1 (Jai Ingham 74’)
Port Melbourne 3 (Kamal Ibrahim 32’, Trent Rixon 70’, 90’)
ABD Stadium
In easily the shock of the round, Port Melbourne started its season with a comprehensive 3-1 away win over Hume City.

The Sharks, who only narrowly avoided relegation with an injury time goal in the last round in 2014, made the best start possible to 2015 as a double to new signing Trent Rixon in the final 20 minutes of the game secured a vital 3 points on the road.

Werribee City 1 (Josh Jokic 31’)
Dandenong Thunder 2 (Yousef Ahmed 16’, Michael Gerace 52’)
Galvin Park

Dandenong Thunder made a solid start to the new season overcoming last year’s battlers Werribee City 2-1 in a match that started in 30+ degree heat and ended in heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Yousef Ahmed, who terrorised the Bees all day with a pace down the right, opened the scoring early in the half before Josh Jokic opened his goal scoring account for his new side. The Thunder dominated the second half, controlling the fluctuating conditions better than their opponents. A fine Michael Gerace free-kick after half time settled the points for the away side as all signs point to an another tough year for Werribee.

Green Gully 4 (Nikola Markovski 15’ 75’, Matt Sanders 65’, Matt Breeze 83’)
Northcote City 1 (James Kalifatidis (p) 90’)
Green Gully Reserve

A dominate Green Gully got the job done 4-1 over rivals Northcote City to send them to the top of the NPLVIC standings.

The Monday night fixture was one way traffic as the Cavilers did as they pleased against Northcote. Already a goal down thanks to Nikola Markovski’s opener, the task got even tougher for the visitors after Jason Hayne was sent off in just the 35th minute after unnecessarily throwing the ball at Berkan Yurdakul’s face after some push-and-shove for the ball.

A second to Markovski and singles for Matt Sanders and Matt Breeze wrapped up the points for Gully. Northcote were given little more than a consolation goal at the death when James Kalifatidis converted from the spot.

NPL1
Victoria’s second tier, the NPL1, has a brand new look for season 2015 with new teams gracing the competition for the first time. NPL1 is now broken up into two conferences; NPL1 East and NPL1 West. A host of new teams are also included for the first time this year, including the youth teams of Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory.

With Victory and City Youth still going about in the NYL, only a handful of games got the season underway. The big shock of the weekend came courtesy of GV Suns as the team who struggled in the top-flight last season belted former VPL mainstay Richmond 6-0.

NPL 1 East
Goulburn Valley Suns 6 defeated Richmond SC 0
Murray United 2 defeated by Box Hill United 3
Dandenong City 2 defeated by Eastern Lions 3
Kingston City 4 defeated Nunawading City 0

 
NPL 1 West
Brunswick City 0 defeated by St Albans Saints 4
Bendigo City 2 drew with Moreland City 2
Ballarat Red Devils 0 defeated by Sunshine George Cross 1
FC Bulleen Lions 1 defeated Moreland Zebras 0

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