NPL Round 3 Preview
Woden-Weston v Canberra Olympic | Friday, 7pm @ Melrose Synthetic – LIVE on BarTV Sports
Woden-Weston will look to continue their strong form this Friday night when they host Canberra Olympic at Melrose Synthetic in Round Three. The Wanderers are two wins from two so far against tough opposition, and will be full of confidence after a convincing 4-2 victory over Belconnen United in their last outing. Frederick Olaide Yinka-Kehinde starred once more in that match, and he will be a handful for Olympic in this clash as part of a dangerous forward line. Rey Castro’s side have scored eight times in just two matches but have also conceded five, and will need to be strong at both ends, wary of an Olympic side that is looking to fire up. The Wanderers have the chance to properly cement themselves as the real deal with a win this week and prove that their early season form is no fluke.
For Olympic, a shock loss to Monaro last Friday was an unexpected way to start the season and Frank Cachia will be hoping his side can bounce back this time out. Olympic struggled to break down a disciplined Monaro defensive unit but will face a side that are likely to be a bit more open and confident tonight. Nik Popovich is set to miss the match after he was substituted early in the loss to Panthers, and Daniel Colbertaldo is still under an injury cloud. Roko Strika could return in what would be a big boost for the midfield and his movement both on and off ball will be key for the visitors to break down their opponents. A win this weekend is imperative ahead of a massive clash with Belconnen United next Friday night and a midweek FFA Cup meeting with Tigers to avoid playing catchup so early in the season.
Belconnen United v Tuggeranong United | Saturday, 5:30pm @ McKellar Park
A third straight win is on the cards for Tuggeranong United this weekend as they take on Belconnen United at McKellar Park. Tuggies fought back from a two-goal deficit against Tigers last week to snatch a 4-3 win at Greenway Enclosed, and will ride into this match full of confidence as a result. Aisosa Ihegie impressed once more in that match as he both scored and set up goals as his side ran away with the match. Danny Crkovski and Josip Jadric also got on the score sheet which will be a boost for Mitch Stevens’, and Tom Pagett showed his aerial prowess with some great knockdowns and hold up play for his fellow forwards. Of some concern for Stevens will be the way his side started the match with some sluggishness, and they will need to be on the ball from the beginning here against a team looking to bounce back from a tough defeat.
For Belconnen United, defeat at the hands of Woden-Weston after going ahead early will have stung, but there are still positives to take from the match. Daniel Barac has settled in well to a new landscape with three goals in his opening two matches and will have the opportunity to continue that sizzling form in this outing. Peter Mazis said after Saturday’s outing that his side needed to be better at taking their chances and avoid gifting goals in the manner that they did, although they will be without Zac Maybury following his Round Two dismissal. Jason Ugrinic missed a penalty in that match but will be raring to get on the board for the season, meaning that Tuggeranong will be facing a very hungry forward line. If Mazis’ side can put pressure on from the outset and control the flow of the game as Tigers did early against Stevens’ side, then they will have a great chance to steal the early running in this one.
Monaro Panthers v Canberra FC | Sunday, 3pm @ Riverside Stadium
Canberra FC will begin their 2018 season on Sunday afternoon as they take on Monaro at Riverside Stadium. Paul Macor’s men have had the first two weeks off due to a reschedule and a bye, and will be raring to go ahead of a busy week that will include their FFA Cup fixture and a Round Four NPL clash with Gungahlin United. Canberra FC had a big Round One victory and strong early part of the season in 2017 before faltering early, and Macor will be hoping his side can fire out of the blocks in a similar manner early. Thomas James is back in the famous red for 2018 and could be in for a big season, and the form of his side may well mirror that of his, with a proven ability to change games himself. He will test Monaro’s defence in a big way, as will former A-League player Kofi Danning, while there is no shortage of talent in the midfield of this side. The major question mark surrounds the backline, and whether Macor has fixed what was an at times suspect defence during 2017.
Panthers meanwhile will be aiming to build on the back of their shock win over Canberra Olympic in Round two and take a big scalp at home. That first win was built on a solid rearguard performance that will need to be repeated against a dangerous Canberra FC attack. The Panthers did also struggle to create many clear-cut chances of their own and capitalized on an error for their early goal, so their attack needs to be a focus this week ahead of the match. Regardless, Zoran Glavinic already appears to have turned this side around a long way from last season, with already more clean sheets under their belt than all of last season. Continuing that form into this weekend would be a massive effort but it would certainly not be as much of a surprise as it would have been before last Friday.
Tigers FC v Gungahlin United | RESCHEDULED | DATE TBC