NPL Match Preview: North Sunshine Eagles vs Western United

Western United Academy

Two weeks remain in the NPL 3 Victoria season, and Western United heads into a clash against North Sunshine Eagles with spots in the promotion playoffs on the line.

Match Details

North Sunshine Eagles vs Western United

Saturday, 13 August

Kick-off: 11:15am AEST (Under 21’s), 3:00pm (Senior’s)

Larissa Reserve, St. Albans

Last time out

With last weekend being a catch-up round and an opportunity for the men’s and women’s cup finals to be played, Western United was able to recharge ahead of a big final fortnight of the campaign.

The last match was a tight affair for the seniors, with Yianni Panakos needing to use every bit of his magic and score a hat-trick to eventually earn his side a 3-2 win over Ballarat City.

That win brought Anthony Frost’s men level on points with Melbourne Victory after they lost to North Sunshine, leaving the race for the playoff positions looking increasingly tight.

United and Victory currently occupy those places, but Nunawading City are just three points behind and are set to play Victory on the final day of the season.

For the Under 21’s, it was a 2-2 draw in the last outing against Ballarat City, with Gus Greer scoring an 81st minute equaliser to secure the point.

United sits in third place just one point above Box Hill United, but has well and truly confirmed a place in the top four ahead of the finals.

Previous Meetings

It was a perfect afternoon for Western United in the return fixture against North Sunshine Eagles, with both sides winning their matches at City Vista Recreation Reserve.

The Under 21’s fell behind juast after the half hour mark but rallied back to win 3-1, before the Senior side enjoyed a similar comeback.

Down 1-0 after just five minutes, United drew level quickly through Jordan Lauton before a goal from Noah Holmes and a Dalibor Markovic brace secured a 4-1 win in May.

That was the first time United had come up against North Sunshine, with the sides missing both meetings in 2021 due to COVID-19 lockdowns and the eventual suspension of the season.

The Opponent

After winning one match in nine since the beginning of May, North Sunshine have scored four big wins in a row to not only distance themselves from relegation, but to remain in the hunt for the top four heading into the last two rounds.

Currently sitting in sixth place, North Sunshine are six points adrift of United and Victory in the playoff spots and will need to win both their remaining matches and overcome an inferior goal difference to finish in the top four.

Despite that 4-1 win earlier in the season, United will be on high alert after North Sunshine’s 4-0 win over Melbourne Victory last time out, and Frost will know nothing short of his team’s best will be enough to get the job done.

Calder United returns to league action after NIKE F.C. Cup triumph

Despite NPLW taking the week off last weekend, Calder United remained busy with a 3-0 win over South Melbourne clinching the club’s fifth straight NIKE F.C. Cup title on Sunday.

Mark Torcaso and his players will be eager to carry that momentum back into league action ahead of an important week, where three straight away could see Calder crowned NPLW Premiers for 2022.

The first of those comes against bottom-placed Bayside United on Saturday afternoon, but there will be no complacency from Calder who will be fully aware of the task at hand for the coming week.

The Under 19’s are locked in a Premiership race themselves, a race that they currently lead by two points from Alamein FC.

A win over Bayside on Saturday would be vital, with a big test against South Melbourne to come next week before a potential Premiership showdown with Alamein in the final match of the regular season.