With the Victorian NPL season is set to kick off this week, teams will eagerly waiting the opening round of the new campaign following the disappointing end to last season, with the competition suspended due to COVID.
With a new season among us, here’s a look at the sides who finished in the bottom half of the ladder and how they’ll fare this season.
St Albans Saints:
Last season: 14th (2 wins – 4 draws – 12 losses)
Still yet to play a full season in Victoria’s NPL top division following their promotion from NPL2 West back in 2019, the Saints will be looking to improve on a disappointing season from last, having finished bottom of the table before the season was suspended.
The Saints have bolstered their squad with goalkeeper Hayden Browne signing permanently for the club having been on loan from WA NPL side Bayswater City FC, while they strengthen their defence with Melbourne Knights defender Nikola Jurkovic coming across. Having boasting the worst defensive record in the league last season, the Saints have look to address their defensive woes.
St Albans have also signed winger Zander Guy from Queensland NPL outfit Paramatta Power. An important player for the Power last season, Guy is an exciting signing who should add another dimension to the Saints attack, having scored three goals in his four FFA Cup appearances for the Power, including three goals in the Queensland NPL last year.
Though their new signings should help bring some improvement it will be more of the same for the Saints in 2022 who will be in for a relegation battle in the upcoming season.
Last season: 13th (3 wins – 5 draws – 10 losses)
Having been one of the surprise packets of the 2019 NPL season, narrowly missing out on the finals following their promotion from NPL2 East, Dandenong City would have a down year last season, finishing 13th before the season was suspended.
In the offseason, City made several singings which should set the club up for improvement. Lacking firepower last season in comparison to the 2019 season, City have brought in veteran forward Jon McShane who was solid in a struggling Altona Magic side last season, with attacking midfield Ardi Ahmeti coming across from the Eastern Lions.
City also acquired exciting winger John Kuol from Port Melbourne Sharks, while midfielder Cooper Legrand joined from Kingston City, and should also add some flare. The club have also shored up their defence with defender Shaun Timmins singing from Green Gully.
Having finished 13th last season, City following a busy offseason will be looking to be one of the big improvers in 2022, and could make a push for finals if the new look side can gel.
Last season: 12th (2 wins – 8 draws – 8 losses)
Having spent a long time in the wilderness in the lower tiers of Victorian football, the Magic had a modest return to NPL football in 2019 finishing 11th, but have struggled last season winning just two games.
Having won none of their opening five games in 2020 before the season was cancelled, the Magic have won just two of their last 23 NPL fixtures. And 2022 will be another tough season for Altona, who will be one of the favourites to drop back into NPL2.
Over the offseason the Magic lost some important players, with their main forward Jon McShane off to Dandenong City and other Magic regulars Jamie Percevski, Harry Noon and Davor Trifunov also departing.
Altona have yet to find a viable replacement for McShane, but have brought in winger Tommy Semmy from the New Zealand Northern League, while midfielders Naim Rahimi and Jordy Vleugels join from Pascoe Vale and Magpies Crusaders in Queensland.
Last season: 11th (4 wins – 3 draws – 11 losses)
Having clinched the NPL2 East Premiership in 2019, the Lions have been competitive for the most part in the limited action they’ve been able to play in the top NPL competition.
Ahead of the 2022 season, the Lions look set to have a season of struggles with the club yet to strengthen their side, making no new singings during the offseason. On the flip side the East-Melbourne based outfit have lost four of their players with the aforementioned Ardi Ahmeti signings for Dandenong City, midfielders Denis Yongule Dalur and James Doyle joined Maltese side Lija Athletic and Green Gully respectively, while attack Daniel MacLennan joined Chirstchurch Utd in New Zealand.
Last season: 10th (5 wins – 5 draws – 8 losses)
Having finished the past two campaigns in the bottom half of the table, Green Gully SC have had a busy offseason in the hope of pushing back up the table in 2022.
Gully have bolstered their midfield with the previously mentioned James Doyle coming across from the Eastern Lions, Ethan Brooks joining from WA NPL outfit Gwelup FC, while after an extended break from football former Melbourne Victory midfielder Josh Hope returns and will lace up the boots for Gully in 2022. Gully also bolstered their defensive ranks with Yared Abetew joining from Newcastle Olympic.
Gully will also be without experienced head Jay Davies in 2022. Despite this, the side should be able to make a big leap in the 2022 NPL season.
Last season: 9th (6 wins – 7 losses – 5 draws)
Having gone through a massive period of change on field in recent seasons, South Melbourne have once again been busy in the offseason as they look to make a push to be one of the top sides in the competition.
The club have strengthened their midfield and attacking ranks, singing Patrick Langlois and Andy Brennan from Hume City. Alun Webb comes across from Melbourne Knights, Max Mikkola signs from Lions FC in the Queensland NPL, Henri Scott comes as a free agent, Josh Addo re-joins South Melbourne departing Pacoe Vale, and former A-League winger Jai Inhgam joins from Gold Coast Knights.
With goalkeeper Pierce Clark departing, South have replaced him with Bentleigh Greens shot-stopper, Spaniard Javi Díaz. The club have also looked to have made a viable replacement in midfield with one of South’s better players Gerrie Sylaidos in recent seasons moving to Northcote City.
Having had a down season in 2021, South Melbourne look set to make a return to the top six and push for the NPL championship.
Last season: 8th (7 Wins – 5 draws – 6 losses)
Melbourne Knights were right in the hunt for a finals spot before the suspension of the NPL last year, and have had a busy offseason strengthening their side as they look to move up the ladder in 2022.
The Knights lost forward Alun Webb to South Melbourne but have retained leading scorer from last year Gian Albano while also adding to their attack ranks. Atilla Ofli comes from Pascoe Vale, Anthony Frangie signed from Marconi Stallions in NSW and Steve Sokol joined from Inglewood FC in WA.
Melbourne also acquired midfielders Thiel Iradukunda from Bentleigh, Michael Piccolo from Canberra outfit Belconnen United FC and Luka Celic from Croatian outfit NK Vodice.
With their attacking and midfield depth one of the best in the league, the Knights will be expected to be pushing for finals and be one of the big improvers in the Men’s 2022 NPL season.