2014 NPL Queensland Finals Race

We’re coming to the business end of the NPL Queensland season, just two rounds to go and a sprinkling of catch-up matches thrown in. We run our rule over the finals contenders and potential permutations of who will make the final series.

Palm Beach Sharks – Currently 1st, 51 points.

Run into the finals –

  • 23 August – Moreton Bay United (Home)
  • 30 August – Redlands (Away)
  • 3 September – Olympic (Home)
  • TBA – Brisbane Roar (Away)

Analysis

Already confirmed for finals action and can finish no worse than 2nd, needing four points from their remaining four matches to be crowned Premiers. Olympic are the only side that can overtake them.

Verdict

They will be Premiers; it’s just a matter of when that is finally made official. The problem is likely to be once they get to the final series with the number of games they have played and will play. Including FFA Cup commitments, it could be as many as eight matches in the space of three weeks.

 

Olympic – Currently 2nd, 42 points

Run into the finals –

  • 23 August – FNQ Heat (Away)
  • 27 August – Harimau Muda (Home)
  • 31 August – Northern Fury (Home)
  • 3 September – Palm Beach (Away)

Analysis

Have been the form team in the competition recently, winning their last six in a row but the Strikers win against them in the Cup Final last weekend proved they can be beaten.

On current form, should collect wins against Harimau Muda and Northern Fury and that would take them to at least 48 points. The only side that could challenge for 2nd place on that basis is FNQ Heat who would need to win both of their remaining games to equal Olympic. However, Olympic have the advantage in that race through a far superior goal difference

Verdict

We think they’ll finish 2nd and host a home semi-final but will encounter a similar issue to Palm Beach that once in the finals, tired legs from the burden of midweek matches could prove a factor.

FNQ Heat – Currently 3rd, 42 points

Run into the finals –

  • 23 August – Olympic (Home)
  • 30 August – Brisbane City (Home)

Analysis

It could have gone pear-shaped with confidence potentially being dented after the FFA Cup defeat but the ultimate bounce-back occurred against the Western Pride last weekend with only 12 fit players. That win, combined with the midweek victory against Harimau Muda, was absolutely critical in ensuring the finals tilt remained on track.

Four points from their final two games will be sufficient to see finals action.

Verdict

A draw against Olympic and a victory over Brisbane City is more than feasible on current form and we predict we’ll see the Heat in post-season action.

Moreton Bay Jets – Currently 4th, 40 points

Run into the finals –

  • 23 August – Palm Beach (Away)
  • 30 August – Brisbane Strikers (Home)

Analysis

Have probably the toughest run home of the finals contenders but potentially catch Palm Beach at the right time with the Jets having a relatively easy game against the Thunder last week while the Sharks will maybe suffer the effects of a tough midweek FFA Cup match.

It is looking very likely that it is a race between themselves and the Strikers for the final position in the finals. 46 points is the magic number to ensure finals action and if they win their remaining matches, mission accomplished.

Verdict

Too tight to call. The match against the Strikers is looking very likely as a semi-final come one week early.

 

Brisbane Strikers – Currently 5th, 39 points

Run into the finals –

  • 24 August – Brisbane Roar (Home)
  • 30 August – Moreton Bay (Away)

Analysis

With the Brisbane Roar squad travelling to the Townsville Football Cup, it is more than likely that they will put out a younger line-up for their remaining NPL matches. If that is the case, the Strikers should claim the three points this weekend to take them to 42 points with the match against Moreton Bay remaining. That would shake out the following ramifications:

  • If Moreton Bay lose to or draw with Palm Beach, Moreton Bay would need a win against the Strikers to claim a finals spot.
  • If Moreton Bay defeats Palm Beach, the Strikers would need to win against the Jets to claim a finals spot.

Verdict

As per the verdict for Moreton Bay, it’s looking like an early knockout final between the Strikers and Moreton Bay in the final regular round. We’ll know exactly what the two teams will need to do once this weekend’s round 25 matches are completed.

Redlands – Currently 6th, 36 points

Run into the finals –

  • 23 August – SWQ Thunder (Away)
  • 31 August – Palm Beach (Home)

Analysis

With two games left, the maximum points they can reach is 42. Olympic and FNQ Heat in 2nd and 3rd respectively already sit on this number but Redlands have inferior goal difference. Therefore, realistically, the highest they can finish is 4th.

It would usually be safe to ink in three points against SWQ Thunder but as the Thunder proved in the clash between the two sides on Tuesday night and their other results in recent weeks, they are improving and potentially on the verge of claiming their first points of the season.

The wildcard is the match against Palm Beach. The Sharks may have claimed the Premiership by the time that match rolls around and with their heavy schedule, may rest players. If that happens, that will obviously play into the Red Devils hands.

Verdict

We’ll give them the win against the Thunder. If they defeat Palm Beach, they would still need results from the Strikers and Moreton Bay’s remaining matches to go their way. It’s a similar story to 2013, Redlands just missing out on finals action again.

Brisbane City – Currently 7th, 34 points

  • 23 August – Sunshine Coast (Home)
  • 30 August – FNQ Heat (Away)

Analysis

Their chances can be summed up in two words – ‘miracle required’. With only two games to go, the maximum points they can obtain is 40, which current fourth place Moreton Bay already sit on. So they will need to win both of their matches, the Jets and Strikers to lose both of their remaining matches, Redlands to win only one of their two games left and significantly boost their own goal difference (City sit on plus 5 while Strikers are on plus 11 and Moreton Bay on plus 28). Quite a lot of variables that need to be satisfied.

Verdict

GONE! – Made the finals in 2013 but won’t be back in 2014.

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