Heidelberg with chance to close gap on leaders

Top of the table South Melbourne’s visit to third placed Heidelberg headlines this weekend’s fixtures in Round 14 of the FFV NPL season.

Football Federation Victoria NPL - Round 14 Preview   Pascoe Vale v Hume City 7th v 6th 8.30pm, Friday June 20, 2014 Hosken Reserve   Hume City bounced back from its shock Dockerty Cup loss with a 2-0 win over a struggling Northcote City, but the task will be harder this week in the trip to Hosken Reserve.   Pascoe Vale has won its past four matches and kept four consecutive clean sheets, with Vitale Ferrante and Davey van’t Schip claiming the Winning Edge Presentations NPL Coach of the Month and Player of the Month awards. Van’t Schip has just two matches remaining before he returns to Holland to complete his studies and play for second-tier side JOS Watergraafsmeer.   Ferrante has already secured a replacement in the form of former Melbourne Victory youth player Melvin Becket, who could make his debut on Friday night after being signed when the transfer window opened this week.   Ballarat Red Devils v Bentleigh Greens 13th v 4th 3.00pm, Saturday June 21, 2014 Morshead Park Stadium   Bentleigh is cruising at the moment and withstood a huge challenge from NPL 1 club Richmond on Tuesday night to progress to the Dockerty Cup semi finals and qualify for the Westfield FFA Cup.   But there are concerns for the Greens, with their leading goal scorer Brent McGrath succumbing to a shoulder injury in the midweek win and regular starter Stephen Hatzikostas being transferred to league leader South Melbourne.   The Red Devils are battling in the relegation zone and can’t afford to let another three points slip at home. They have only won one of their five matches at Morshead Park Stadium, and could hand a club debut to Green Gully recruit Sean Harding on Saturday.   Oakleigh Cannons v Goulburn Valley Suns 2nd v 14th 6.00pm, Saturday June 21, 2014 Jack Edwards Reserve   The bottom-placed Suns met the first-placed South Melbourne and grabbed a point in a result which shocked many.   They’ll be bolstered by the signings of Daniel Chaabani (Pascoe Vale) and Ardian Vuniqi (Green Gully) and by their performance against Oakleigh in Round 1, where they dominated large periods of play but couldn’t convert their chances in the 1-0 loss.   The Cannons are still undefeated at home and are now just four points behind South Melbourne. They simply can’t afford to slip up on Saturday night.   Dandenong Thunder v Port Melbourne Sharks 5th v 12th 7.00pm, Saturday June 21, 2014 George Andrews Reserve   The Sharks are winless in their past five matches and find themselves just two points clear of the relegation zone. It’s a dire situation, and the Sharks need a confidence boost before facing top-two sides South Melbourne and Oakleigh in the next fortnight.   Dandenong hasn’t strung together consecutive wins since Round 4 and will be without talented 17-year-old Marcus Schroen, who ruptured his ACL in the 5-2 loss to Heidelberg United on Saturday night.   Werribee City v Green Gully 9th v 8th 3.00pm, Sunday June 22, 2014 Galvin Park   Green Gully’s first half of the season has been one to forget, but there has been enough in recent weeks to suggest that it will have a stronger second half.   The eighth-placed side has been busy in the transfer window, releasing Brian Vanega, Ardian Vuniqi (Goulburn Valley Suns), Mitchell Bissinger (Richmond) and Sean Harding (Ballarat Red Devils), with Peter Deng (Adelaide Olympic FC), Thomas Deng and Christopher Ailakis the new signings.   Werribee City has been busy too, signing Liam Brian (Moreland Zebras) and Devon Bonne (Hume City) and releasing Simon Symeoy (Moreland Zebras), Ray Markley (Noble Park United), Zois Galanopoulos (Port Melbourne) and Daniel Sweeney.   It could be two new-look sides which turn out on Sunday.   Northcote City v Melbourne Knights 10th v 11th 3.00pm, Sunday June 22, 2014 John Cain Memorial Reserve   Northcote City has just three days to bounce back from its heartbreaking Dockerty Cup loss in a penalty shootout to NPL 1 side St Albans Saints, while the Knights will have one eye on their Cup quarter final against South Melbourne next week.   The home side is having a rollercoaster season and the Knights are still without a host of injured stars, making this contest a tough one to predict.   South Melbourne v Heidelberg United 1st v 3rd 5.00pm, Sunday June 22, 2014 Lakeside Stadium   It’s one of the most highly anticipated matches of the season, as first hosts third in a contest which will significantly shape the top three.   A win to Heidelberg United would see it close to within five points of South Melbourne, and it wouldn’t be a surprise result given the latter’s drop in form in the past fortnight.   South Melbourne could turn to its new recruit Stephen Hatzikostas for a spark, with the defensive midfielder coming off a stellar first half of the season at Bentleigh.   It will also need Milos Lujic to find his scoring touch again, with the star striker not registering a goal in the past two rounds. Heidelberg hasn’t made any signings in the transfer window.   Click here  for all of the details for this weekend's round of matches.