National Premier Leagues (NPL) action kicked off for 2020 in Victoria on the weekend – with last year’s title winners Bentleigh Greens and Heidelberg United storming straight to the top of the table with big wins.
The Bergers started their Premiership defence with a commanding 3-0 win over long-time rivals South Melbourne FC on Friday night.
Midfielder Lucas Derrick struck a goal in each half for the visitors at Lakeside Stadium, book-ending a classy 85th minute lobbed finish from Dusan Bosnjak to seal the points for the Bergers.
Defending Champions Bentleigh also recorded a 3-0 win as they eased past newly promoted Eastern Lions on the back of a Brent McGrath brace.
McGrath, who has a full international cap for the Socceroos, netted the opening two goals for the Greens before Finn Beakhurst sealed the result with 20 minutes remaining.
Also making a winning start in Victoria was Oakleigh Cannons on Thursday night in the opening match of the season.
The Cannons prevailed 3-1 over a ten-man Avondale FC at Jack Edwards Reserve, netting the first three goals through Wade Dekker, Joseph Knowles and Joe Guest, with their clean sheet only spoiled by a late own goal.
On Friday, Port Melbourne Sharks and Melbourne Knights shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at J.L. Murphy Reserve. Hamish Watson’s 69th minute opener for the Knights cancelled out late by Francesco Stella.
In a high-scoring Dandenong Derby on Saturday, it was the Dandenong Thunder that claimed bragging rights as they edged out Dandenong City 3-2 at George Andrews Reserve.
Thunder captain Brandon Barnes was the hero for the home side – scoring a dramatic injury time winner to seal the points and his brace.
Elsewhere, Hume City made a winning start to their campaign with a 2-0 home win over Altona Magic courtesy of a double from Steven Hewitt.
While on Sunday, St Albans Saints showed they will not suffer for goalscoring outlets this season as four different players got on the scoresheet in a 4-2 win over Green Gully SC.
With only two games played in the opening round, wet weather again conspired against supporters in the Sunshine State, with just three games getting underway in Round 2.
Moreton Bay United made a winning start to their season with a solid 4-2 win over the newly promoted Sunshine Coast Wanderers at Wolter Park on Monday night.
The Jets struck four goals in the opening half to delight their home supporters, with Matthew Heath, Sean Lewis, Carter Glockner and Declan Smith sharing in the spoils.
In Brisbane, Olympic FC secured a 1-1 draw on Sunday against fellow south-siders Eastern Suburbs to move to the top of the table as one of only two sides to have played twice this season.
Frederick Yinka-Kehinde opened his account for the season in the first half for the hosts, however, Easts secured a share of the spoils through a second-half equaliser from former Olympic player Youeil Shol.
Elsewhere, Magpies Crusaders United slumped to back-to-back defeats as they were downed by Brisbane Strikers at Sologinkin Oval – 2019 Michael Cockerill Medal winner Fraser Hills netting a brace for the visitors.
In rescheduled fixtures, Redlands United will host Lions FC on Tuesday night at Cleveland Showgrounds, while Brisbane Roar Youth will host Capalaba FC on the same night in Logan.
Feature image courtesy of Heidelberg United