Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
Group B is another one that features two BPL and two NPL clubs. The fortunes of Redlands and Western Pride in 2015’s NPL couldn’t be any more contracting. Pride looked like they could have been anything after being fast starters before going on a downhill slide while it was the complete opposite for Redlands who got off to a slow start before coming home like wildfire to claim a finals berth.
Rochedale in the BPL had a relatively steady season but were another to finish off well, undefeated in their last eight league matches while Holland Park have been the benchmark of Brisbane lower leagues, earning promotion in successive years to place themselves in 2016’s BPL.
Holland Park Hawks
By virtue of now being in the BPL, that has earned the Hawks an invitation to their inaugural tournament. Coach Ben Ryan has indicated that his side may be a little rusty to start off due to a delayed start to formal pre-season training.
Not returning will be 2015’s Capital 1 leading scorer Matt McNab but someone who will be is Marek Madle who claimed 10 goals in 13 games and will be called upon to provide the bulk of the goals this year.
Jono Burrowes, Matt Carr, Schon Hansen, Sam Roper, Jefferson Woodward previously from other BPL clubs as well as Ben Romyn from Brisbane City are amongst the recruits that coach Ryan has brought into the club.
Holland Park is yet to play a trial match.
As mentioned, it took a while for the Red Devils to find their groove in the 2015 NPL but finally lived up to the talent that was available in their squad.
Technical Director Matt Chandler has stated that key to their 2016 season will be stability with the majority of last year’s squad returning. Added to that are some top-shelf signings.
Shoheel Khan who was outstanding for Lions in 2013 before missing 2014 through injury got better and better through 2015 as his confidence grew transfer. Stephen Green comes from Moreton Bay United with good pedigree while Paul O’Brien from near-neighbours Capalaba comes with massive wraps.
Redlands were defeated by Capalaba 3-2 in a friendly held last week.
Coach Scott MacNicol will be looking to take the momentum gained from that eight match undefeated streak into 2016. With key defenders Phil Davies and Daryll Grant retained, the defensive unit will be further strengthened by the addition of Jake Reesby who joins from Peninsula.
Rovers made last year’s final at the tournament and will be looking to go one better this time round. They defeated Caloundra 3-0 over the weekend in their first pre-season hitout.
Pleasing from the club’s perspective is that Bon Scott, Ajdin Fetahagic and Harry Sawyer have moved onto bigger and better things but that means that coach Graham Harvey will need to find players coming through the ranks to replace them.
Amongst them will be Northern Fury recruit Sean Karambasis who was part of last year’s NPL under 23 All-Stars.
Pride defeated Peninsula 4-3 in a friendly in mid-December and more recently beat Capital 2’s Ipswich City 7-2.
Player to watch
Michael Lee (Redlands) – Lee makes a return to the bayside club after spending 2015 at Olympic. Word on the street is that he has been training the house down during pre-season.
Tip to progress to finals
Redlands and Rochedale find themselves in similar circumstances with both taking momentum and relatively unchanged squads into 2016. I’ll take Redlands though based on their recruitment but it could well be the meeting between the two sides that decides who continues in the tournament.
QSN has the BLK Silver Boot covered with full coverage over the tournament’s four weeks. Keep checking queenslandsoccernews.com for all the latest news.
Pool games (Wednesday)
20 Jan 6:30pm Holland Park v Rochedale
20 Jan 8:30pm Western Pride v Redlands
27 Jan 6:30pm Holland Park v Western Pride
27 Jan 8:30pm Rochedale v Redlands
3 Feb 6:30pm Holland Park v Redlands
3 Feb 8:30pm Rochedale v Western Pride