The race for the Premiership is as close as ever leading into Round 26 of the National Premier Leagues (NPL) Queensland, with only one point separating top two sides Peninsula Power and Lions FC.
Peninsula Power will host Redlands United on Saturday night and with Lions still having a game in hand, every match will be important in the ladder leaders’ Premiership quest.
The Redcliffe side have won their last three, following some surprising losses to fellow top four sides Olympic FC and Gold Coast Knights.
Second-placed Lions meanwhile will look to extend their unbeaten run and keep their Premiership chances alive as they host Magpies Crusaders on Saturday night.
Lions enter this match off the back of six consecutive wins, including two wins against top four sides Olympic FC and Gold Coast Knights in the last two weeks – sides that Peninsula Power have been unable to overcome in recent weeks.
Warren Moon’s side have scored 21 goals and conceded only six in their last six games, earning Moon the NPL Queensland Coach of the Month title for July.
Remaining only a point behind ladder leaders Peninsula Power, Lions will need to continue this impressive winning form if they are to claim the Premiership for a second straight year.
Magpies Crusaders meanwhile have only recorded two wins in their last five NPL Queensland matches, but did produce a surprise 4-3 victory against Olympic FC in their Round 2 catch-up game earlier this month.
The Mackay side have also progressed to the FFA Cup Round of 16 after winning their Round of 32 clash with Coomera Colts last week.
The last time the two sides met, in Round 11 this year, Lions secured a 6-0 win thanks to doubles from Jheison Macuace and Mitch Hore.
Lions FC v Magpies Crusaders
Saturday, 3 August, 6pm
Other matches to watch:
Brisbane City v Gold Coast Knights
After facing each other in a mid-week catch-up game on Wednesday night this week, Brisbane City and Gold Coast Knights will meet again this Saturday night in their Round 26 clash. In their mid-week clash, Knights came out on top to secure a 2-0 win and to extend their winning streak to three games. City meanwhile had also won three in a row before their mid-week loss at the hands of Knights and will seek to exact their revenge as they welcome the Gold Coast side this weekend.
Eastern Suburbs v Olympic FC
After recording losses in their last two NPL Queensland games against Lions and Magpies, Olympic will be desperate to get back into the winners’ circle this weekend. Their recent losses haven’t helped their chances in the Premiership race, however rediscovering their winning league form will be just as vital coming into the remaining rounds of the regular season. Olympic should bring confidence from last week’s dominant FFA Cup Round of 32 victory as they come up against an Eastern Suburbs side that hasn’t recorded a win since the beginning of June.’
Players to watch:
Mitch Hore (Lions FC): Hore will be a vital player in Lions’ quest for back-to-back premierships and earned himself a spot in Team of the Week last round for his double against Olympic FC.
Mitch Nichols (Gold Coast Knights): After a strong performance in his side’s Round 25 win over Eastern Suburbs, Nichols will need to continue his form for the remaining rounds of the regular season.
Chris Lucas (Olympic FC): Olympic will need to get back to winning ways ahead of finals, and Lucas will be a key player who can aid in this.
Image: Ian Judd/Lions FC