After two wins in the first round of NPL since the league’s COVID shutdown, both Western United’s NPL team and the Calder United NPLW side are riding three-match winning streaks heading into this weekend.
United has a big clash at the top of the NPL table against Preston Lions, while Calder United will look to consolidate second spot with an away trip to Heidelberg United.
Preston Lions vs Western United
Friday, 6 August
B.T. Connor Reserve
Heidelberg United vs Calder United
Sunday, 8 August
Olympic Village – Pitch 1
Last time out
Western United had won back-to-back games for the first time this season, and Ante Moric’s men wasted no time in adding a third victory against Springvale White Eagles last Friday.
Second-half goals from Manny Aguek and Sabit James secured a 2-0 victory, with James Tountas and Nathan Dib earning their first starts in the senior team.
That win took advantage of results elsewhere in the division and has Western United in third spot, one point off joint leaders Preston and Doveton and with a small gap opening up below them to the likes of Box Hill United and Melbourne City.
Calder United record its biggest win of the season last weekend, trouncing Bayside United 9-0 in an immediate return to form.
Catherine Zimmerman scored a blistering hat-trick while Harriet Withers added a brace of her own to set the team on the way to a big victory.
Calder is also sitting in third place in NPLW, within a win of second-placed Bulleen Lions ahead of their third meeting in two weeks’ time.
Preston Lions have led NPL 3 for just about the entirety of the season, and at one point in the season it looked like they would pull away from the competition at the top of the table.
But after going undefeated through 10 games, including a 1-1 draw with Western United in the first meeting, Preston have won just one of the following four fixtures and lost twice, including their last match against Box Hill.
Buoyed by their raucous home faithful, Preston have been a drawcard in NPL 3 this season but with no fans in attendance this weekend, the game could have a different look to it.
Heidelberg have, for the most part, failed to find a consistent run of form throughout the NPLW season, indicative of them sitting sixth on the table – nine points off Box Hill below them and nine points adrift of FV Emerging in fourth.
It has been a difficult period of late for Heidelberg in particular, with three straight losses, 17 goals conceded and none scored, although two of those defeats did come against the league’s top two teams in South Melbourne and Bulleen.
Despite Calder winning the first meeting of the season 5-0, Heidelberg bounced back to win 1-0 in June and will be out to challenge Mark Torcaso’s side and earn an important win.
Western United is in its best run of form all season and kept a clean sheet for the first time in the victory over Springvale.
Aguek’s goal takes him to 12 for the season and maintains his position as the league’s top scorer, equal with Melbourne City’s Max Caputo.
Calder United is also unbeaten in four games, with the team’s last loss coming against Heidelberg in the previous meeting between the two sides.
Calder has not conceded in each of the three consecutive wins, consolidating the team as the league’s best defence with just 11 goals conceded.