NPL Round 11 Preview
The National Premier Leagues action continues this weekend with Round 11 featuring another set of exciting match-ups right across Queensland.
Stay up to date with all the weekend’s fixtures in the weekly preview.
Palm Beach Sharks (8th) v CQFC Energy (11th)
Saturday, 25th May 2013 – Mallawa Complex, 4:30pm
Palm Beach Sharks and CQFC Energy will seek to put their early season struggles behind them when they meet at Mallawa Complex on Saturday in the opening match of Round 11 of the National Premier Leagues.
Both sides have recently found long sought form - Palm Beach recording back-to-back wins since the departure of former head coach Oscar Langone a fortnight ago, while CQFC notched their second win of the campaign against QAS last round.
The Sharks’ impressive showings against Brisbane Strikers and FNQ FC sees the club promote interim coach Grae Piddock to head coach for the rest of the season, although Piddock may have to contend with the absence of star striker Jarrod Kyle, who remains in doubt for this weekend’s fixture.
CQFC however will field their strike pairing of Chris Geddes and Sander Waterland, the dynamic duo combining for an impressive 15 goals between them so far this campaign.
The Rockhampton-based club also signalled its long-term intent earlier this week by announcing the signing of well-regarded coach Raymond Wood from English Championship club Leicester City to the dual role of head coach and technical director.
Wood will take up his position with the club in mid-June after concluding his duties in the United Kingdom.
Redlands United (4th) v Brisbane City (2nd)
Saturday, 25th May 2013 – Cleveland Showgrounds, 6:00pm
Cleveland Showgrounds plays host to a blockbuster National Premier Leagues match-up when Redlands United welcome fellow finals contenders Brisbane City to their bayside home on Saturday evening.
It’s the second week in a row the venue has seen a top four encounter after Redlands dropped three points and a two goal advantage against league leaders Olympic last weekend – the side’s second consecutive loss.
Attacking flair remains the Redlands trademark, however head coach Matt Chandler will be hoping for more defensive acumen against a City outfit that boasts attacking weaponry of their own, including NPL leading goalscorer Antonio Murray.
City will strive to continue an impressive run of form that has seen the club surge into second on the NPL table. Glen Volker’s side has not dropped a competition point since the second round and conceded a miserly five goals during their seven game winning streak.
Northern Fury (7th) v Brisbane Strikers (3rd)
Saturday, 25th May 2013 – Townsville Sports Reserve, 6:00pm
Northern Fury are aiming to extend their unbeaten run at home to five games on Saturday evening when they host Brisbane Strikers at Townsville Sports Reserve.
Fury have travelled poorly this season – and were humbled 5-0 by a rampant Brisbane City last weekend – however they remain indomitable at home and player-coach Gareth Edds will be eager to claim another high-profile scalp after his charges defeated Redlands United in their previous home game.
The match is the Strikers second trip to the tropics this season, and the Fury’s pacey attacking options will provide a stern test of Striker’s head coach David Large’s reconfigured back four, who held a clean sheet against rivals Sunshine Coast last weekend.
The Strikers possess pace of their own, with experienced wingers Jonti Richter and Greg King showing up several of the league’s youthful fullbacks, providing the impetus for many of the Strikers 35 goals this season.
A win for Strikers will solidify their top four position at the midpoint of the campaign, while three points will set up Fury for a promising tilt at finals football in the second half of the season.
Queensland Academy of Sport (12th) v Moreton Bay United Jets (6th)
Saturday, 25th May 2013 – Wolter Park, 7:30pm
Moreton Bay Jets will seek to solidify their position in the top half of the NPL table on Saturday night when they host Queensland Academy of Sport at Wolter Park.
Jets have won two of their past three matches to continue their up-and-down season, the recent results coming after a high-flying start to the campaign was halted by a winless run throughout April.
Terry Kirkham’s side have been plagued by injury, however with high profile players like ex A-Leaguers Royce Brownlie and Karl Dodd finding form in recent rounds, Jets are looking to regain their lost momentum approaching the second half of the season.
Inconsistency has also plagued Josh McCloughan’s Academy outfit so far this year, with the youngsters recording one win and a draw from their opening ten matches despite some impressive showings.
Mindful of the impetuousness of youth, McCloughan continues to shape his squad of future stars into a cohesive unit and, with the short Wolter Park pitch lending itself to compact football, Academy will be confident of springing an upset.
Sunshine Coast FC Fire (5th) v FNQ FC Heat (10th)
Sunday, 26th May 2013 – Sunshine Coast Stadium, 2:00pm
Sunshine Coast Fire will look to get their finals campaign back on track this Sunday afternoon when they play host to FNQ FC Heat at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
The Fire have taken just the one point from three fixtures so far this month, and will be keen to turn the tide against the Cairns-based Heat, who remain mired in the bottom third of the table.
Despite recent results, Fire still boast the best defensive record in the league; however a lack of goals continues to plague Kevin Aherne-Evan’s side and casts doubt on their finals credentials.
Meanwhile, the tenth-placed Heat have confounded the tipsters all season and failed to live up to their moniker in recent rounds – running both hot and cold with two wins and two losses in their past four outings.
However, in a worrying sign for the hosts, the club remains the only side to have taken points off league-leaders Olympic so far this seasoning – proving that on their day FNQ FC are capable of mixing it with the league’s best.
Western Pride (9th) v Olympic FC (1st)
Sunday, 26th May 2013 – Eric Evans Oval, 4:00pm
Olympic FC are looking to close out the first half of the National Premier Leagues season undefeated when they travel to Ipswich to face Western Pride at Eric Evans Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The league leaders have been near unstoppable so far this campaign, boasting an imposing +31 goal difference and possessing two of the NPL’s top three goal scorers in Tim Smits and captain Danny Byrne – who netted four in an outstanding individual performance against Redlands last weekend.
However, trophies aren’t handed out mid-season and head coach Jim Bellas remains well aware his side are only a bad performance away from returning to the pack.
Western Pride will be itching to knock off the competition’s top side after losing in unusual circumstances to Moreton Bay Jets last round – Pride’s late surge denied by a floodlight failure that brought a premature halt to the contest.
Pride head coach Kasey Wehrman will be concious his side can’t afford to leave their run late against Olympic but will be heartened by his opposition's less than convincing defensive record –the league leaders conceding ten goals in the past four rounds.
Words: Michael Flynn (Football Queensland)