NPL Match Preview: FC Bulleen Lions vs Western United

Western United Academy

Everything is on the line in the final week of the NPL 2 Victoria season – Western United will be promoted and could be champions with a win against FC Bulleen Lions on Saturday.

United’s Under 21’s could also take the league title with a win in their match while Calder United will look sew up a finals spot in its last fixture against Bayside United on Friday night.

Match Details

NPL 2 Victoria Round 26

FC Bulleen Lions vs Western United

Friday, 11 August

Kick-off: 12:30pm AEST (Under 21’s), 3:00pm AEST (Under 23’s)

Veneto Club – David Barro Stadium, Bulleen

Broadcast: The match will be streamed live on FC Bulleen Lions’ Facebook page

Last time out

There was late drama in Western United’s last fixture as Northcote City stole a point with an injury time equaliser last Friday night.

Oliver Lavale’s goal before half-time looked like it might book United’s promotion ticket a week early, but Northcote’s late leveler ensured the match finished 1-1.

The Green and Black’s Under 21’s side had won 3-0 earlier in the evening, moving to within a point of Melbourne City at the top of the table after they drew with Brunswick Juventus.

The Promotion Picture

The equation is simple for Diogo Ferreira and his players, with a win all but confirming Western United’s place in NPL Victoria for 2024.

With a two-point buffer on both Manningham United and Kingston City, Western United needs only take care of its own business to move into the top tier of Victorian football.

United’s goal difference advantage over those two sides means that a draw could be enough to secure promotion as well. Manningham hosts Northcote City and Kingston goes to Melbourne City in the final round, with all matches kicking off simultaneously at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

A win could also give United the bonus of a league title on top of promotion. If Dandenong City lose to Eastern Lions, United will move to the top of the table and win the title on goal difference.

The opposite side of that of course is that if United loses and either of Manningham or Kingston is able to win their match, then the Green and Black will not be promoted.

Coming to the end of a remarkable season, Ferreira, his staff and his players know what is ahead of them and are ready to bring a magical end to the 2023 campaign.

The Opponent

FC Bulleen Lions have steered themselves clear of relegation ahead of the final day of the season thanks to a brilliant back half of the year.

A 3-1 loss to United in Round 13 left Bulleen in a perilous position with just three wins through the first half of the season, but a swift upturn in form quickly dispelled any fears.

Bulleen won their next three matches to double their win total before putting together a six-game unbeaten run from mid-June until just last week with a 3-1 defeat to Dandenong City ending that streak.

Luke Jonathan Lofts is Bulleen’s top scorer and leads the league golden boot race with 16 goals on the season, six of which have come in his last four appearances.

Playing on home soil, Bulleen will be eager to put on another good performance to close the season and United will need to be in top form to secure a result.

Western United Junior Academy teams also facing FC Bulleen Lions

Western United’s Junior Academy sides will also be facing Bulleen Lions this weekend, though they will have hosting rights at Alcock Road Reserve on Sunday.

With both teams in the top six of the respective age group divisions, each clash is set to be an entertaining one featuring some of Victoria’s most exciting junior footballers.

United sits ahead of Bulleen in the Under 14’s and Under 18’s competitions while a win for the Under 16’s would see them leapfrog their opponents.

The Under 15’s will have the toughest task with Bulleen leading that division, but the Green and Black will be up to the task of trying to inflict just a second defeat of the season on the leaders.

Western United Junior Academy Match Details

JBNPL 1 Round 18

Sunday, 20 August

Western United vs FC Bulleen Lions

Kick-off: 10:00am (Under 14’s), 11:30am (Under 15’s), 1:15pm (Under 16’s), 3:15pm (Under 18’s)

Alcock Road Reserve, Truganina

Calder United closes the regular season against Bayside United

Calder United faces a similar situation to Western United’s Under 23’s side, though the equation for Nathan Maiorana and Helen Winterburn is simpler this time around.

With Calder sitting in fourth on 32 points, only Preston Lions in sixth can mathematically catch them for a finals place with fifth-placed Alamein taking the bye in the final week of the season.

However, Calder currently hold a +14 advantage against Preston in the goal difference column, meaning even a defeat against Bayside United should still see the side through to the finals.

Calder won’t be content with anything but a win, of course, with three points potentially taking the team above South Melbourne and into third spot, with South travelling to Boroondara-Carey Eagles who will be playing for the Premier’s Plate.

Still on a high from last week’s NIKE F.C. Cup Final victory, Calder will hope to continue its momentum with another win and the best possible finish heading into the finals.

Calder’s Under 19’s will also be after a win to shore up a top four spot. With Bulleen just a point behind and hosting Southern United, Andy Burnett’s side will need to defeat Bayside to hold onto a place in the finals.

Match Details

NPLW Victoria Round 22

Friday, 18 August

Bayside United vs Calder United

Kick-off: 6:30pm (Under 19’s), 8:30pm (Senior’s)

Kingston Heath Soccer Complex, Cheltenham

Broadcast: The Senior’s match will be broadcast live on NPL.tv

Calder United juniors return the favour in hosting Bayside United

Everything has aligned for this particular weekend of NPL Victoria action. With all of Western United’s teams playing Bulleen Lions, each of Calder’s five NPL teams will also face the same opponent in Bayside United.

Three rounds remain in the junior seasons and Calder sits in fourth place across each of three divisions, with all teams hoping to cement those places against Bayside this weekend.

Calder United Junior’s Match Details

Saturday, 19 August

Calder United vs Bayside United

Kick-off times: 12:15pm (Under 13’s), 1:30pm (Under 15’s), 3:00pm (Under 17’s)

Keilor Park Recreation Reserve, Keilor Park