It was a weekend of title race twists and turns across the country.
An incredible four-horse race is brewing in Queensland, while the previously undefeated leaders in Tasmania now face an arduous challenge from the chasing pack.
Check out this weekend's NPL wrap below:
NEW SOUTH WALES
Sydney Olympic’s competition lead has been trimmed to one point after the Blues were defeated 1-0 by Blacktown City at Lily’s Football Centre on Sunday.
A 50th minute goal from Joey Gibbs proved to be the difference between the two sides, as Blacktown returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since May.
Mark Crittenden’s men remain a further eight points behind Olympic and while they face an uphill struggle to fight for the title, the premiership race has undoubtedly been blown wide open as a result of City’s win.
Second-placed APIA Leichhardt remain hot on the heels of the league leader’s courtesy of a 5-1 triumph over Sydney FC at Lambert Park the night before.
A brace from competition golden boot leader Jordan Murray led the way for Billy McColl’s men, with Corey Biczo also claiming a double.
Marconi Stallions were the other big victors from the weekend’s action, with an incredible final second goal from Peter Pelekanos handing the Stallions a 2-1 win over Hakoah Sydney City East. The win places the former NSL giants in the top five on goal difference.
In the weekend’s other fixtures, Sydney United 58 defeated Wollongong 3-1 thanks to a late flurry of goals, Rockdale City Suns beat Manly United 4-3, while Sutherland Sharks defeated Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2-0.
Competition leaders Perth Glory missed an opportunity to extend their lead to four points after drawing 2-2 with Floreat Athena on Sunday.
John Gibson’s side appeared on course to claim their eighth win in a row following opening half goals from Yacoub Mustafa and Michael Domfeh, cancelling out an earlier strike from Ryan Malton.
But Robert Petkov equalised with minutes on the clock to earn the relegation-battling Athena a valuable point.
Glory are just two points ahead of second-placed Cockburn City, who moved up to second on Saturday thanks to a 7-0 hammering of bottom club Joondalup United.
Daniel Robinson netted four for Cockburn on the night as they leapfrogged Bayswater City, who slipped into third following a 4-1 loss to Armadale.
The former leaders have now lost three times in a row, and Bayswater’s premiership credentials will go on the line against Glory next round.
The title race is not over for Inglewood United moved into fourth after a 2-1 win at Sorrento, with Andy Keogh’s side now only four points off the top.
In the weekend’s other fixtures, ECU Joondalup defeated Stirling Lions 3-0, Balcatta edged Subiaco 1-0, and Perth SC trumped Forrestfield United 3-1.
Heidelberg United remain on top of the NPL Victoria – but only just after the league leaders were defeated 2-0 at home by Pascoe Vale FC. A brace from Davey Van’T Schip did the damage for the visitors, who are now eight points away from their ladder-topping opponents.
Thankfully for the competition frontrunners, none of the challenging pack could take advantage. Bentleigh Greens will lament their 2-2 draw with Melbourne Knights on Friday night after watching Heidelberg stumble two days later. The Greens had to come back from behind twice against Knights but were unable to find a winner – now trailing the Bergers by a single point.
Meanwhile, third-placed Avondale were on the receiving end of a 5-1 hammering from cellar-dwellers FC Bulleen Lions. The result could prove damaging to the Avengers’ premiership ambitions, with the side now seven points away from Heidelberg.
In the weekend’s other fixtures, Brandon Barnes scored all four goals in Dandenong Thunder’s 4-1 triumph over Kingston City, while Green Gully edged Oakleigh Cannons 1-0, Hume City defeated Port Melbourne Sharks 1-0 and South Melbourne drew 1-1 with Northcote City.
Canberra Olympic have maintained their six-point advantage at the top following a 4-1 win over Woden Weston on Sunday. Michael John secured a brace alongside efforts from Domenic Giampaolo and Stephen Domenici to ensure the leaders maintain a comfortable buffer over the chasing pack.
Second-placed Canberra FC put Monaro Tigers to the sword as doubles from Thomas James and Ryan Keir kept the side within striking distance of the league leaders – although the side will be level on points with Olympic if they win their two matches in hand.
Tuggeranong United’s 4-2 defeat to Belconnen Untied is a blow to their premiership ambitions, with the visitors running in goals from Dustin Wells, Daniel Barac, Daniel Sparrow and Martin Raines to move into fifth spot.
There was stunning late drama between Gungahlin United and Tigers FC with Ben Obst striking in the seventh minute of stoppage time to rescue a point for Gungahlin.
Only minutes earlier the Tigers looked to have sealed an important victory via Christian Junna, but Obst’s late heroics consolidates fourth position on the table for Gungahlin, who remain one point ahead of the Tigers in sixth.
NORTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES
It’s as you were in the NPL NNSW with top two Broadmeadow Magic and Edgeworth picking up wins to continue their premiership tilt.
The Magic defeated Weston Workers 3-0 on Sunday afternoon with James Virgili and Kale Bradbery strikes alongside an Angus Lathan own goal paving way for a comfortable win – one that maintains Broadmeadow’s one-point advantage over the Eagles.
Edgeworth were in action 24 hours previous and easily accounted for Newcastle Jets Youth with Tyson Jackson, Bailey Garland, Aaron Oppedisano, Adam Cawley and Joshua Rose all getting on the scoresheet.
Lambton Jaffas moved into third following a 2-1 win over Charlestown City Blues. Braedyn Crowley’s brace came to the fore for the Jaffas, who leapfrog Maitland FC after their 0-0 stalemate with Valentine FC.
Lake Macquarie City FC and Adamstown Rosebud drew 2-2 in the competition’s other fixture.
The competition lead has changed hands once again in Queensland after leaders Western Pride were pipped 3-2 in their top of the table clash against Lions on Saturday.
The Pride had been in formidable form prior to the clash with Lions, netting 16 goals combined in their last three fixtures, but the visitors emerged victorious in a topsy-turvy encounter.
That result saw Olympic FC take advantage, although perhaps not as they would’ve hoped after clinching a 2-2 draw against Gold Coast United, in a match that saw Jez Lofthouse clinch his ninth and 10th goals of the campaign.
Olympic now hold a one-point advantage over the Pride, Lions and Moreton Bay United, who join the chasing pack on 42 points after edging out Magpies Crusaders in a close contest.
Redlands United were the other big winners from the weekend’s round action, hammering Sunshine Coast FC 6-2 with young gun Connor Mcauley netting a hat-trick. It could prove to be a big three points for Redlands, who move 11 points clear of their bottom-placed opponents.
Elsewhere, Joshua Taylor’s hat-trick helped Cairns FC defeat Brisbane Strikers in a 5-3 goalfest, SWQ Thunder defeated North QLD United 1-0 and Brisbane Roar Youth drew 1-1 with Brisbane City.
Campbelltown City continue to lead the way in South Australia after claiming a vital away win over WT Birkalla. The league leaders were down 2-0 inside 11 minutes but rallied in the first half through Dion Kirk’s double and a goal from Matthew Mullen to complete the turnaround before the half time interval.
That fightback ensures City have a two-point advantage over MetroStars, who defeated Sturt Lions 5-3 in an eight-goal thriller. Christian Esposito notched a treble to bring his tally to the season up to 16 as the premiership challengers saw off a spirited display from the league’s bottom-club.
Adelaide City find themselves a further two points behind and four points off the lead after they cruised to a 3-0 victory over Adelaide Olympic. Joseph Costa’s double and Anthony Costa’s 14th of the season paved way for a routine win over Olympic, who remain in sixth.
In the league’s other results, South Adelaide and Adelaide United drew 1-1, Adelaide Comets defeated Para Hills Knights 3-1 and Croydon Kings and West Adelaide played out a 1-1 stalemate.
The title race in NPL Tasmania took an unexpected twist on the weekend as Launceston City suffered their first defeat of the campaign, going down 4-2 to South Hobart.
City had won six in a row prior to their clash with South, but Renato De Vecchi Marins’ hattrick led the charge for Hobart. The scores were locked at 2-2 late in the game but an 87th goal from Alex Walter put the hosts before Marins’ completed his treble in injury time.
The competition leaders still hold a six-point buffer over their victorious opponents and remain on top with 29 points, but a crushing 7-0 win for Devonport Strikers over Northern Rangers moves the strikers just one win away on 26.
Hobart Zebras also remain in the hunt following their 5-0 win over Olympia Warriors – the Zebras are only three points behind Launceston after their big win.
Kingborough Lions edged Clarence United 3-2 in the round’s other fixture.
Hellenic AC continue to lead the way in the Northern Territory after claiming a 2-0 win over Port Darwin on Friday. Manolis Giallouris scored a double to ensure the league leaders maintain their four-point advantage over Darwin Olympic.
Darwin did their part in keeping up the pressure on the leaders in some style, defeating Palmerston Rovers 11-1 the following day with Mitchell Amidy leading the rout with four on the night.
In the league’s other fixture, University Azzuri defeated Mindil Aces 4-3. Azzuri raced to a 4-1 lead at half time thanks to Theo Rossides’ double, Felicio Guterres’ strike and a Mindil own goal – and managed to hold on for the three points despite a strong showing in the second from the visitors.