It's a Friday night showdown at Hosken Reserve as Pascoe Vale host fourth placed Bentleigh Greens.
The mid-season transfer window for the NPL and NPL 1 closed at 5pm on July 1. Click here to view the transfers.
Pascoe Vale v Bentleigh Greens
Ryan De Vries was one of the catalysts behind Bentleigh’s run to the 2013 Victorian Premier League (VPL) Grand Final, and on Friday night he’ll make his NPL debut after re-joining the club from New Zealand top-flight team Waitakere United. The South African attacker has been an asset to the Greens in recent seasons and will be expected to hit the ground running as his side looks to bounce back from a lacklustre performance last week.
Pascoe Vale’s run of five consecutive wins came to an end at Knights Stadium, and the loss of reigning player of the month Davey van’t Schip to JOS Watergraafsmeer in Amsterdam this week has only compounded the defeat. Coach Vitale Ferrante could turn to Jake Nakic – signed from Dandenong Thunder - as a replacement.
Oakleigh Cannons v Port Melbourne Sharks
Oakleigh looked very flat in its 1-1 draw with a 10-men Heidelberg United and couldn’t find its passing rhythm on a slow, heavy pitch. It was a costly draw for the Cannons – they’re now six points behind table-topper South Melbourne – and must win against lowly Port Melbourne to keep up the pressure at the top.
The Sharks are fighting to avoid relegation and will also be desperate for the points, but they’ll need to produce something special to knock off Oakleigh at its fortress. The Cannons have gained 22 out of a possible 24 points at Jack Edwards Reserve, scoring 27 goals at an average of 3.4 per game.
Ballarat Red Devils v Northcote City
The Red Devils may have one of the recruits of the season on their hands, with Deng Aguek scoring three goals in two weeks since joining from State League 1 North-West club Western Suburbs. It doesn’t stop there however, with Ballarat also securing prolific striker Paul Harvey from Bulleen as it recognises the need to beef up its attacking stocks.
The last time these two sides met, the Red Devils stunned Northcote City away from home in a match where tempers flared, and they’ll be looking for a clean sweep over last year’s VPL champion on Saturday. Northcote is a good traveller however, having lost just two of its seven away matches. The excellent surface at Morshead Park Stadium will also aid the visitors with their liking to keep the ball on the ground.
Hume City v Dandenong Thunder
Dandenong was very impressive for large portions in its draw against Green Gully, but silly errors in defence cost it the three points. That inconsistency in games has been a common trend for Thunder this season, while Hume City is suffering from the same problem.
The home side was bolstered by the club debut of Springvale White Eagles recruit Abel Fesseha however, who scored a brace in the win over Werribee City. With both sides having a rollercoaster season, the result is tough to pick here.
Werribee City v Melbourne Knights
Werribee City’s list has undergone a huge makeover during the transfer window, with the Bees making more changes than any other club across both NPL and NPL 1. Ersin Kaya (Northcote City) and Jose Guerrero (Hume City) are arguably the biggest signings, but coach Nino Ragusa swung the axe with the releases of Josh Groenewald, Ivica Praiz and Nemanja Govedarica among others.
The Bees’ eight new arrivals may need time to adapt, particularly with Ragusa’s tendency to have his side play the long ball out of defence. The Knights are a lot stronger on paper than they were a month ago, and it’s translating on the scoreboard. They’ll go in as favourites on Sunday.
South Melbourne v Green Gully
South Melbourne and Green Gully are two of the proudest and most successful clubs in Victorian football and never fail to disappoint when they meet. One case in point was their Round 3 encounter, where a whopping eight goals were scored.
Green Gully has tightened up its defence since then and has the form to knock off the league leader, but South Melbourne has been crying out for a week’s break and will be fresh after finally receiving one.
Heidelberg United v Goulburn Valley Suns
Daniel Heffernan will sit out this one after being red-carded in Heidelberg’s draw with Oakleigh, and that will come as somewhat of a relief for the Suns as the league’s joint leading goalscorer destroyed them in their 6-2 loss in Round 3.
Heidelberg boasts serious attacking firepower even without Heffernan, and in-form striker Kaine Sheppard will need to be closely watched by the Suns, who could hand a club debut to newly-signed former Hyundai A-League defender Simon Colosimo.
The Suns are firmly entrenched in the relegation zone and are now in a do-or-die situation, while Heidelberg’s slim title hopes could disappear if it drops points on Sunday.
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