By Lance Jenkinson
The unthinkable has happened – Green Gully is headed for the National Premier League relegation play-off, where it will strive to save its top-flight existence.
The Cavaliers needed only a draw against Kingston City on the final day of the season on Sunday to avoid the relegation play-off, but they went down 3-1 in a miserable display at Green Gully Reserve.
Only eight weeks ago, Green Gully was fifth and in the finals mix. The Cavaliers have since gone into freefall, losing seven of their past eight games to fall to third last.
The Stephen Downes-coached team has a long wait for the September 23 play-off at AAMI Park while the NPL 2 clubs jostle for the right to tackle it.
Maybe the extended break between games will help the Cavaliers regain their lost form.
It was a tough week for the Melbourne Knights. The Knights had their destiny in their own hands at the start of the week, but consecutive losses saw them bow out of the finals race.
A near fatal blow to their top six hopes came on Monday night when they lost to Bulleen Lions, the cellar dwellers. The knock-out for the Knights came in a 2-1 loss to Dandenong Thunder on Sunday.
In NPL 2 west, St Albans Saints were hammered 5-0 by already promoted Altona Magic. The Saints had a chance to seal their ticket to the promotion play-off, but will have to wait another week.
A win over Brunswick City in the final round on Saturday will lock the Saints into second spot. But if the Saints draw or lose, they will come under threat from third-placed North Geelong Warriors, who have an easy game, on paper, against Ballarat City.
Sunshine George Cross’ last game in the NPL was a sour one – it lost 4-2 to Melbourne Victory. The Georgies have been relegated to state league 1 for next season.
In NPL women’s, Calder United had a comfortable 4-0 win over Box Hill United.
Calder is still in the hunt for the premiers plate heading into the final round, trailing South Melbourne by just one point. Calder will need to beat third-last Heidelberg United on Saturday and hope South Melbourne loses or draws with third-placed Bulleen Lions.