By Rafe Griffin (@griffofootball)
Gold Coast City will open up proceedings in the 2016 NPL Senior Men’s competition at home against last year’s semi-finalists Redlands on Saturday 27 February with new City recruit Lyndon Dykes set to face the club he played for last year.
Other games that will feature as part of the first round are:
- SWQ Thunder will show off their high profile recruits as they host Northern Fury.
- An all-Perry Park derby with Brisbane Roar Youth hosting Brisbane Strikers.
- Former A-League coach John Kosmina will get an immediate taste of the standard of the Queensland competition as his Brisbane City entertains 2015 Premiers Moreton Bay.
- On a busy opening Saturday, two of the more youthful sides will go head-to-head in Ipswich when Western Pride and Sunshine Coast clash.
- The lone Sunday fixture sees FNQ Heat travel to Olympic’s Goodwin Park, the first time in four seasons that the northern club will meet an opponent other than neighbours Fury in round one.
The draw appears to have a number of blockbusters inside the first five weeks with the teams that competed in last year’s semi-finals playing against each other during that period. Here are some of the matches that shouldn’t be missed in the early part of the season:
- Round 2 – Brisbane Strikers v Redlands, Saturday 5 March 6pm, Perry Park. These two teams will have their traditional rivalry delayed by a week but it will be worth the wait if last year’s corresponding fixture is anything to go by where the Strikers looked to have had the game won scoring in the 90th minute before Redlands equalised in stoppage time through Igor Sao Jose.
- Round 3 – Brisbane City v Olympic, Saturday 12 March 6:30pm, Corporate Travel Stadium. Another edition in the history of these clubs that always provides for an entertaining affair despite ladder positions.
- Round 4 – Moreton Bay v Brisbane Strikers, Saturday 19 March 6pm, Wolter Park. The much awaited Grand Final rematch. Even though plenty of water has gone under the bridge since the controversial circumstances as to how last year’s regular season ended, there’s still sure to be a little extra bite in this one.
- Round 5 – Redlands v Olympic, Friday 1 April, 7pm, Cleveland Showgrounds. Plenty of goals last year in this fixture where Redlands came back from two down at the break to score five in the second half to stun the 2013 Premiers. Michael Lee returns to Redlands after a stint at Olympic last year.
- Round 5 – FNQ Heat v Northern Fury, Saturday 2 April 6:30pm, Barlow Park. The traditional Northern Derby between the only two clubs outside the south-east corner always brings an electric atmosphere to Barlow Park with the hosts looking to turn around last year’s loss.
The season commences on Saturday 27 February. FNQ Heat and SWQ Thunder are scheduled to round out the regular season on Saturday 20 August. A two-week, top-four finals series features again with the Grand Final to take place on the weekend of 3-4 September.
Football Queensland have taken feedback from last season’s end to the season where three catch-up matches were abandoned without a ball being kicked, ultimately delivering the Premiership to Moreton Bay. Additional catch-up weekends have been factored into this season’s draw but there is still a risk with the customary week’s break between the final regular season round and the finals series being removed and no allowance of a catch-up weekend in the final five rounds.
The full draw can be found here: http://bit.ly/1kbVqfX.
Here’s our club-by-club analysis of how each club has fared in the draw.
- Will play the majority of their home matches in the first half of the season, seven of their first eleven at the Corporate Travel Management Stadium and all played in the Saturday night timeslot.
- Welcome traditional rivals Olympic in round three.
- Incoming coach John Kosmina will meet former A-League rival Ian Ferguson in round seven when City travel to Ingham to meet the Fury.
- Open up the season in the first four weeks against three of the top four from last season (Strikers, Moreton Bay, Olympic).
- Will be based at Perry Park again for their home matches.
- First part of a double-header in round 15 hosting Olympic followed by the Strikers v Moreton Bay match. There will be another double-header in round 20 with Roar meeting Brisbane City and Strikers v FNQ Heat the later feature,
- Opponents in the first six rounds will see them coming up against the four other teams from last season’s competition.
- All home matches will be played at 6pm on Saturday night.
- Long travel trips take place in round 9 to Cairns and the penultimate round 21 to Townsville.
- Back-to-back home matches in rounds four and five and then again in rounds nine and ten.
- On paper, have one of the easier starts to the season taking on only two teams in the first seven rounds that finished above them on the 2015 table in 2015.
- Traditional derby against the Northern Fury in round five where they play host and then travel to Townsville in round 16.
GOLD COAST CITY
- Unlike previous seasons, just four of their home matches will be played on a Saturday afternoon with Sunday afternoons now the preferred timeslot.
- Play three 2015 finalists within the first five rounds, all of those at home.
- Get their long trips out of the way very early on, travelling to Cairns in round four and Townsville in round six.
- On the road between rounds five and eight with trips to the Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Olympic and Sunshine Coast.
- The Jets will host the Grand Final rematch against the Brisbane Strikers in round four.
- No double headers with their co-tenant Brisbane Premier League club, Albany Creek.
- Similar to 2015, on the road for the first part of the season with their opening three games away from their Townsville Sports Reserve base with trips to Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast,
- ‘Home’ matches in round seven against Brisbane City and Moreton Bay in round 11 will be played in Ingham and Ayr respectively.
- Unlike previous years where the opening match of each round has been played against Northern Derby opponents FNQ Heat, these matches will take place in rounds five and sixteen in 2016.
- Host the two northern teams in the opening two rounds resulting in back-to-back trips to Cairns and Townsville at the opening to the second part of the season.
- Three consecutive games from round five against the other three teams that made last season’s finals series (Redlands, Strikers, Moreton Bay).
- Play the first and second teams, Strikers and Moreton Bay prior to Easter. Olympic who finished fourth last year will travel to the Cleveland Showgrounds in round five.
- The majority of their home matches will be on Friday nights. Where the opposition have significant travel commitments, those games will be played on Saturday afternoon.
- Travel to Townsville in round nine and Cairns in round 19.
- At home for the first two matches hosting the Fury and Brisbane City respectively before three consecutive matches at home between rounds nine and eleven.
- Face a tough run of matches between rounds four and eight as they come up against the top five teams from 2015.
- Their match against the Brisbane Roar Youth in round 14 will be played at the Toowoomba Grammar School.
- Home matches split between Sunshine Coast Stadium and the near-by Kawana FC.
- Travel to Ipswich and Cairns in the opening two rounds.
- Make the trip down the M1 in round seven for the traditional rivalry with the Strikers.
- Have a favourable home draw in the first half of the season with their first three matches at home and seven in total in the first eleven rounds.
- Will be hoping to put last year’s 12-0 nightmare behind them when they go to Perry Park in round six against the Roar Youth.