PS4 NPL Capital Football Preview: Round 5

No fewer than four teams head into Round 5 of the PlayStation 4® National Premier Leagues: Capital Football competition with a shout of ending the weekend in top spot.

Canberra FC, Belconnen United, Canberra Olympic and the FFA COE could all be at the summit come Sunday evening with only Tigers FC inaction precluding them from joining that group.

It’s Canberra FC who appear to hold all the aces at present however as they play host to struggling Tuggeranong United at Deakin Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The league leaders would usually be odds-on to see off a Tuggeranong side who have had a poor start to the season but United will go into the match with potentially fresher legs seeing their midweek Westfield FFA Cup tie played 24-hours prior to FC’s showdown with the Tigers.

FC had the bye in Round 4 with memories of their incredible comeback against Tigers FC at Nijong Oval still vivid in the mind. That five-goal second half turnaround could well be the result that sees FC return to former glories with the momentum, and confidence, such a reversal of fortune brings, could see them in top form here. A loss in the Westfield FFA Cup, which FC have not been shy in putting at the foremost of their priorities, could open the door for Tuggeranong.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the 1-3 home loss to Monaro Panthers last time out was a bitter pill to swallow for United as they slumped to the foot of the PS4 NPL ladder without a win to their name in four outings in 2015. Worryingly, the lack of firepower in front of goal, only two goals have been scored this term, has been magnified by the inability to keep a clean sheet as the team has leaked goals at an alarming rate. Rectifying both issues may take some time for Steve Forshaw and the coaching staff at Kambah.

Canberra Olympic has the opportunity to put themselves at the top of the pile on Friday evening when they make their first trip to refurbished Woden Park to take on Woden-Weston FC  in the second of the Wanderers Friday night matches. Olympic has been in ominously good form of late with their 4-0 battering of the previously unbeaten FFA COE a real statement of intent.

This followed a six-goal haul in midweek in their potential banana-skin of a Westfield FFA Cup tie against State League 3 Brindabella Blues, but Head Coach Frank Cachia perfectly juggled his squad to maximum effect and it showed as a breathtaking opening quarter of an hour put the FFA COE to the sword. Again the Philippe Bernabo-Madrid and Robbie Cattanach axis reaped the rewards of a fine team effect with Callum Smith outstanding.

Woden-Weston FC was extremely competitive for the third time this season in going down 1-3 away to Gungahlin United. That the amalgamated team led for an hour was a testament to the good work being done at the club and they will have been disappointed to ship two goals in the last ten minutes to fall to defeat, Miro Trninic is forging a team that is hard to beat but heading into a huge match on the back of a potentially draining midweek cup-tie with Southside rivals Tuggeranong United, and this their third game in five days, may make this a bridge too far, too soon.

On Saturday afternoon Belconnen United make the short trip to the Australian Institute of Sport to take on the FFA COE in what should be a delight for local football fans. Both teams have earned rave reviews in 2015 for their style of football and a clash between the pair should provide excellent entertainment on what is sure to be a perfect playing field at the Institute.

The Blue Devils enter their fifth match of the season with nine points from four games, a superb return considering their fixture list comprised matches with Gungahlin, Olympic, Canberra FC and the always tough road trip to the Tigers. It was at Nijong Oval last weekend where Dean Ugrinic put in place a game-plan that perfectly nullified the Tigers threat up front and created enough chances for his team to come away with a magnificent 2-0 away victory thanks to goals from Aisosa Ihegie and Jason Ugrinic.

FFA COE meanwhile juggled their pack for the visit to O’Connor Enclosed in Round 4and were caught cold with Canberra Olympic sweeping into an unassailable three-goal lead inside the opening quarter of an hour.  It was a salutary lesson for the Centre of Excellence who were blown away before they had really found their feet. Tony Vidmar will be expecting a response from his team when Belconnen cross the divide.

Gungahlin United celebrated their first win in the PS4 NPL competition last week and will be keen to make it two on succession when they cross the border to take on Monaro Panthers at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday afternoon. United downed Woden-Weston FC at Gungahlin Enclosed with a couple of late goals in Round 4 but have still to really find their groove this season.

Michael John’s return from injury as a second half substitute turned the tide of the match against the Wanderers in their favour with the tricky front-runner earning the penalty from which Shane Murray netted the second goal before John himself rounded off the scoring in stoppage time. His form will mean a possible selection headache for Claudio Canosa heading into this match.

Panthers meanwhile kick-started their campaign with a 3-1 win over Tuggeranong United at Kambah 2. The ex-Tuggies contingent enjoyed their return to their former stomping ground and a couple of early goals settled any pre-match nerves. A hamstring injury sustained by talismanic midfielder Matt Menser may preclude his inclusion in the match-day squad and his absence would be a blow for Graeme Plath, the Panthers boss. The performance of Daniel Hearle, his early replacement against Tuggeranong was encouraging though with Monaro out to upset the odds again.


Friday 8th May

Woden-Weston FC v Canberra Olympic (Woden Park), 7:20pm

Saturday 9th May
FFA COE v Belconnen United (AIS)

Sunday 10th May
Canberra FC v Tuggeranong United (Deakin Stadium)
Monaro Panthers v Gungahlin United (Riverside Stadium)

Click here to see the ladder as it currently stands as well as the leading scorers heading into Round 5.