NPL Queensland Round 8 Preview

Round 8 of the National Premier Leagues is headlined by two local derbies in the men’s competition, and an intriguing battle between form sides Souths United and Capalaba FC in the women’s competition.

In the NPL Men’s, defending premiers Peninsula Power are the only side yet to lose a game, while Gold Coast Knights and Brisbane Roar Youth are hot on their heels in second and third place respectively.

Knights will face local rivals Gold Coast United on Saturday night, while Roar Youth are up against ninth-placed Logan Lightning.

At the other end of the ladder, Brisbane Strikers are still searching for a breakthrough win and Magpies Crusaders United will be hoping to climb up above Eastern Suburbs on the table as the two sides meet at Heath Park.

In the NPL Women’s, former powerhouse The Gap FC will face defending champions Lions FC, who sit top of the table and are yet to lose a game this season. The Gap, on the other hand, will be hoping to put a difficult month behind them after four consecutive losses in April.

Virginia United will face Brisbane City on Saturday night eager to knock off another big-name club after wins over Capalaba and The Gap in recent weeks, while mid-table QAS and Mitchelton FC meet at Clem Jones Field in Meakin Park.

Meanwhile, quiet achievers Western Pride will host Eastern Suburbs in Ipswich with a view to extending their unbeaten run to six games.

Fans can watch all First Grade NPL Men’s and Women’s matches live on NPL.TV, free for Australian residents.

Feature matches:

Gold Coast United v Gold Coast Knights

Saturday night’s Gold Coast derby will no doubt be a spicy occasion as United boss Grae Piddick comes up against his former club for the first time since he was controversially relieved of his duties in September last year.

Piddick, who won two NPL championships with Gold Coast sides Knights and Palm Beach over the past decade, joined Gold Coast United late last year with a view to taking the club back to the top.

And while United have had an injury-plagued start to the 2021 season, former Knights players Jarrod Kyle and Adam Endean have both hit form at just the right time, with both men finding the back of the net in last weekend’s 3-1 win over Brisbane Strikers.

But it will be a tough contest for United against a hot Knights side who are flourishing under interim boss Adem Poric with eight consecutive wins in the NPL and FFA Cup.

Knights will need to dig a little deeper this weekend, with leading goalscorer Jheison Macuace missing through injury and midfield metronome Mitch Nichols suspended after accumulating five yellow cards.

While Knights will enter the clash as favourites, there may be no better opportunity for United to cause a derby upset in front of their home fans.

Match details:
Saturday 8 May, 6:30pm
Coplick Family Sports Park, Tallebudgera

Souths United v Capalaba FC

Fourth plays fifth on Sunday afternoon in the NPL Women’s competition as unbeaten side Souths United host star-studded Capalaba FC at Wakerley Park.

It will be perhaps the biggest test so far for Souths, who have been excellent at home this season collecting 10 out of a possible 12 points in four games at Wakerley Park.

Souths will once again rely on the experience and imagination of their playmaker, Rie Katano, who scored a superb goal in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Sunshine Coast Wanderers.

But Capalaba are in red hot form in front of goal, scoring 12 goals in the past three games to beat Brisbane City, Moreton Bay and the QAS.

Capalaba will be boosted by return of former W-League striker Emma Pittman, who will join a lethal attacking quartet that includes sharpshooter Steph Latham and former Matildas Amy Chapman and Larissa Crummer.

Match Details:
Sunday 9 May, 5:00pm
Wakerley Park, Runcorn

Key players:

Shane Smeltz (Gold Coast United): The former A-league striker, who scored his first goal of 2021 last weekend against Brisbane Strikers, will be a marked man this weekend’s derby against Gold Coast Knights.

Sam Langley (Redlands United): The Redlands junior will lead his side out in the Redlands derby on Saturday night against his club from last year, Capalaba FC.

Natasha Wheeler (Capalaba FC): The classy centre-back scored two goals in Capalaba’s 4-1 win over the QAS, including a textbook header from a corner.

Sofie Persson (The Gap FC): The Gap have badly missed their captain for the past two weeks, and it will be a massive game for the Swedish playmaker on Friday night as she returns against her old side Lions FC.

NPL Men’s Schedule:

Redlands United v Capalaba FC
Friday 7 May, 7:30pm
Compass Grounds, Cleveland

Logan Lightning v Brisbane Roar Youth
Saturday 8 May 5:15pm
Cornubia Park, Loganholme

Moreton Bay United v Lions FC
Saturday 8 May, 6:00pm
Wolter Park, Albany Creek

Peninsula Power v Sunshine Coast Wanderers
Saturday 8 May, 6:30pm
A.J. Kelly Park, Kippa Ring

Eastern Suburbs v Magpies Crusaders United
Saturday 8 May, 7:30pm
Heath Park, East Brisbane

Olympic FC v Brisbane Strikers
Sunday 9 May, 6:00pm
Goodwin Park, Yeronga

NPL Women’s Schedule:

Lions FC v The Gap FC
Friday 7 May, 7:30pm
Lions Stadium, Richlands

SWQ Thunder v Sunshine Coast Wanderers
Saturday 8 May, 3:45pm
Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba

Virginia United v Brisbane City
Saturday 8 May, 6:00pm
Albert Bishop Park, Nundah

QAS v Mitchelton
Saturday 8 May, 6:30pm
Clem Jones Fields, Meakin Park

Logan Lightning v Olympic FC
Saturday 8 May, 7:30pm
Cornubia Park, Loganholme

Peninsula Power v Moreton Bay United
Sunday 9 May, 4:00pm
A.J. Kelly Park, Kippa Ring

Western Pride v Eastern Suburbs
Sunday 9 May, 5:00pm
Briggs Road Sporting Complex, Ipswich

BYE – Gold Coast United

Image: East End Digital