PS4 NPL Victoria Preview: Round 7

Two Thursday night encounters, including a blockbuster between Melbourne Knights and Bentleigh Greens kick off the Easter weekend in PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria.

Pascoe Vale v Dandenong Thunder
8.30pm, Thursday, April 2, 2015
Hosken Reserve, Coburg
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #PVvDT #PS4NPLVIC

These two teams come into this game with wildly different form books. Pascoe Vale has had two hard-fought wins in its last two games, after getting off to a tough start to the season, while Dandenong Thunder had a win to kick things off, but has since fallen on hard times with four straight losses.

The hosts will be mentally boosted after holding on to a 4-3 win away in Geelong, the week after keeping a desperate Oakleigh side at bay with a 1-0 win.Paco midfielder Joseph Youssef comes into this game with his confidence at an all-time high, after he scored three goals in just 17 minutes to give his side the win last week.

Meanwhile Thunder will have some mental problems to overcome after two second half losses in a row; first a late loss against the Knights, and then two goals in the second half to lose to Hume City. But aside from a heavy loss against Green Gully, most of Dandenong's losses have been close.

If the Thunder can recapture its form from Round 1, it has every chance of a result tonight.


Melbourne Knights v Bentleigh Greens
8.30pm, Thursday, April 2, 2015
Knights Stadium, Sunshine North
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #MKvBG #PS4NPLVIC

This is the biggest game of the round, and one of the biggest games so far this season. The Knights sit on top of the ladder with five wins from five games, while Bentleigh is also unbeaten, but has dropped points against Werribee, Green Gully, and South Melbourne.

This will be the first true test for the table-toppers, who have not yet had to face a side in the top half of the ladder. But if results go their way, the Knights could put themselves six points clear from their rivals.

It's the start of a tough run, as after this game, they head to South Melbourne, then host Green Gully, then head to Heidelberg and Hume City. The Knights' defence will need to be as solid as it has been, having conceded just two goals from five games so far.

Meanwhile Bentleigh's defence will need to be en garde for the full 90, given the Knights' habit of scoring decisive late goals; and it was a late goal which cost Bentleigh the full three points last week. Coach John Anastasiadis will need to mentally prepare his side to make sure history is not repeated.


Avondale FC v Oakleigh Cannons
3.00pm, Saturday, April 4, 2015
Avondale Heights Reserve, Avondale Heights
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #AFCvOC #PS4NPLVIC

Oakleigh has to be feeling the pressure now. After four games, last year's runner-up has yet to register a point, and to even score a goal. The issue is simple; Miron Bleiberg's men can't hit the back of the net.

It's an enigma for the team that scored almost an average of three goals a game last season, and finished with the best goal difference in the entire competition. Oakleigh's task will not be made any easier coming up against an Avondale side that's high on confidence after defeating Northcote away from home last weekend.

On top of last week's win, Avondale has looked impressive, only succumbing to Heidelberg late, and earning a 0-0 draw against Port Melbourne, who demolished Oakleigh 4-0 last week. Another interesting factor for this match will be how Oakleigh adapts to Avondale's smaller pitch.

At home, its defence has been rock solid, and Avondale has only conceded one goal across two games; at the same time, Anthony Barbieri's men have struggled to score goals at home and remain scoreless. But if Avondale can translate its form from John Cain Memorial Reserve to Doyle St, Oakleigh could be in for a tough afternoon.


North Geelong Warriors v Port Melbourne
3.00pm, Saturday, April 4, 2015
Elcho Park, Lara
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #NGWvPM #PS4NPLVIC

There have been 14 goals across North Geelong's last two matches, and both times the Warriors have been on the end of a 4-3 defeat. This week, they come up against Port Melbourne, a side which has been threatening to show its class over the last six weeks, and finally did so against Oakleigh last week.

After two weeks without a goal, Kamal Ibrahim found his scoring boots and continued his exploits against Oakleigh, catapulting himself into fourth on the scoring charts with four goals.

Meanwhile North Geelong can boast to having the top goalscorer in the league after Round 6, with Robert Zadworny nabbing six goals in as many rounds. Despite its prolific goalscoring, the Warriors continue to have problems leaking goals.

Conceding four goals two weeks in a row could be a worry for Micky Colina; he'll need the Warriors to do what Avondale did and keep a dangerous Port Melbourne at bay if they're to get anything from this match.


Green Gully v South Melbourne
3.00pm, Saturday, April 4, 2015
Green Gully Reserve, Keilor Downs
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #GGvSM #PS4NPLVIC

After a magnificent first three weeks, South Melbourne has hit a slump with two draws in a row. While South can still attest to being undefeated, its three wins came at the hands of teams all in the lower half of the table, while its two draws came against teams in the top half.

This will be a telling game as to whether Chris Taylor's men are the real deal again this year. But if you compare the champions' start to the year to 2014, last year they were five from five and had a goal difference of +11 - this year, they're +5 and haven't been nearly as prolific in front of goal.

How that stacks up against a Green Gully side that's equal on points but has played one more game than South remains to be seen.

Gully was impressive last week, coming back from both a goal and a man down against Bentleigh to salvage a draw. If the side can show that kind of resilience this week against South, Gully could make some moves up the ladder.


Northcote City v Heidelberg United
3.00pm, Saturday, April 4, 2015
John Cain Memorial Reserve
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #NCvHU #PS4NPLVIC

Just two spots on the ladder separate these two teams, yet the difference in form is extraordinary - it's a testament to just how tight the top half of the table is.

Heidelberg is at the bottom of that top echelon with two points a game; if this was the English Premier League, that kind of average would put it third. Instead it sits seventh. Despite only two spots separating these sides, four points and 12 goals is the real difference.

Heidelberg has been solid so far this season, only losing once to a strong Bentleigh outfit, and drawing with South Melbourne. But Northcote is still a mystery.

It looks solid going forward, though has had trouble at the other side of the park. Northcote has conceded 17 goals so far this season; an average of almost three goals a game.

To make matters worse, Northcote comes into this game off of the back of a late 3-2 loss to Avondale FC. When Northcote is at its best, it can play well, and it has shown that, with wins against Port Melbourne and Pascoe Vale.


Werribee City v Hume City
3.00pm Monday, April 6, 2015
Galvin Park, Werribee
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #WCvHC #PS4NPLVIC

After a Round 1 hiccup, Hume City has well and truly hit form with four straight wins and currently sits in second place. On the other hand, Werribee has yet to win this season and is second last on the ladder.

Despite that, the Bees have not been embarrassed this season and almost pulled another draw from the competition leaders last week. It took a late Melbourne Knights winner to steal the points at Galvin Park.

Werribee coach Nino Ragusa will need to make sure his defence is ready to deal with a Hume City attack that has scored the most goals in the league so far this season.

If Werribee can keep Hume's attack at bay, this match could be closer than the league positions suggest.


Keep up-to-date with all the NPL Victoria news, video, features and more via the official website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels.