Will Green Gully SC stay in the top division or will Moreland City Football Club take their place?! Find out on Sunday!
The playoff is a battle of 12th place in the top division and the winner of a match between second-placed teams in NPL 2 East and West. Moreland City defeated St Albans Saints in that battle of second-placed teams at Jack Edwards Reserve in Oakleigh last weekend.
Green Gully were squeezed into 12th place on the final day of the NPL Victoria home-and-away season, as a 3-1 defeat to Kingston City meant they couldn’t leapfrog at-risk Hume City and South Melbourne to safety.
Moreland City, switched to the East in the off-season due to the geographic position of relegated teams from the top flight, may well be forgiven for wondering why they’re even here.
Not because it’s a surprise, but because the numbers tell a story of a team that maybe should have pushed champions Dandenong City closer than the penultimate round. Moreland City scored five more goals than Dandenong City, conceded nine less and lost the same number of matches (five).
They lost 1-0 to Dandenong City away early in the season, before beating them 5-3 in the return match. What cost them was the stalemate. Drawing 0-0 with last-placed Nunawading City, second-last placed Murray United and also Whittlesea Ranges, who finished sixth in the West.
Breach the net once, and Moreland City were a free-scoring team. Apai Ukuno won the NPL 2 Golden Boot for his 18 goals, while captain Corey Thomas and former Green Gully defender Matthew Reid are other players to watch.
Even if Green Gully wins today and preserves its top-flight status, their collapse this season will be spoken about as a cautionary tale for years to come. A squad packed with top NPL Victoria players and former A-League talent, nobody blinked when Gully sat fourth after 10 games, having beaten South Melbourne 3-0 at Lakeside.
What followed was one win in 16. Slowly but surely a seemingly “safe” number of points was eroded by the chasing pack.
Gully took just one point taken from the last 24 on offer. Gully has a wealth of talent.
Nick Krousoratis on the wing, Jeremy Walker at fullback, Kieran Dover and Jay Davies in the middle. But on this losing streak the killer has been giving possession away cheaply in the defensive third. Good enough to lead against Premiers Heidelberg in their August meeting, it’s the mistakes leading to goals that is why the team finds itself here today.