With the opening round of the Men’s 2022 NPL season now in the books, we wrap up all the action from an exciting opening round of Victoria’s premiere football competition.
Round One was kicked off under lights at Lakeside Stadium on Thursday night as South Melbourne hosted Heidelberg United. It was the first chance to see the new look South outfit who were too strong for their Northern Melbourne rivals, running out 3-1 victors.
Alun Webb having departed the Melbourne Knights during the offseason was impressive in his South debut, breaking the deadlock in the 25th minute, before Maximilian Mikkola made it 2-0 heading into half time, to help set up an empahtic win in front of the South Melbourne faithful.
On Friday night Melbourne Knights and Dandenong City locked heads. With both sides looking to be big improvers of the competition, it was the Knights who’d make a massive statement, recording a 5-0 victory away from home.
Anthony Frangie on his Knights debut was impressive scoring a brace, while Mohammad Sumaoro, Luka Kolic and Steve Sokol also found the back of net.
Oakleigh Cannons would also play their season opener on Friday night, playing hosts to Green Gully. While the Cannons got off to an encouraging start, leading 2-0 inside the opening 40 minutes, it was the visitors who’d take all three points, coming back to win 3-2.
Having spent over a year out of the game, former Melbourne Victory midfielder Joshua Hope would score on the stroke of half time to give his side life. Gianluca Iannucci levelled scores in the 85th minute, having an enjoyable start to his life on loan with Gully. Nahuel Bonada would score from the penalty spot in the 89th minute to complete the comeback.
Feeling hard done by to not be crowned champions of the 2021 NPL campaign after the season was suspended, Avondale made a strong start to the 2022 NPL season on the weekend. They’d record a 3-1 victory over Bentleigh Greens at Avenger Park on Saturday afternoon, Joseph Katebian and Liam Boland scoring in the opening half to give the side a foothold in the game.
The Greens would strike late, Pierce Waring scoring a stunning free kick in the 87th minute, though Liston Diaz would score in injury time to seal the game.
Port Melbourne and St Albans Saints did battle on Saturday afternoon, and having been the bottom-placed side of the NPL before the season’s suspension, the Saints were looking to climb up the rungs in 2022. It would be a physical contest with nine yellow cards given out, with the Saints finishing the game with six players booked.
Finishing 1-1, the Sharks got off to a bright start with Christopher Duggan scoring inside the opening 10 minutes, though the Saints would equalise through Michael Grgic in the 27th minute.
The Saints would hold on for a draw, showing encouraging signs they’ll be putting up more of a fight in 2022.
Dandenong Thunder took on the Eastern Lions at George Andrews Reserve on Saturday afternoon, starting their season with a win edging out the Lions 2-1.
Captain Ali Sulemani lead from the front for the Thunder, scoring a brace to help guide his side to victory. The Lions scored a late consolation prize through Ioannis Georgopoulos in the 88th minute.
The Altona Magic and Hume City would round out the opening match-day in a lacklustre affair, with both sides unable to find the net, settling for a 0-0 draw.
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