Can Bentleigh become the first ever NPL finalists?

It’s a first in FFA Cup history: a member federation club has qualified for the Semi Finals for the second time.

Backing up their run to the inaugural final four back in 2014 is NPL Victoria’s Bentleigh Greens, who knocked off divisional rivals Heidelberg United to get this far.

Their charge to the late stages this season has shades of that run in 2014, and this time around they might just have the players to go one step further.

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In their way is an Adelaide United side, looking to make history by becoming the first club to play in the FFA Cup Final three times.

There is so much to be said about this match and about Bentleigh’s chances – let’s begin to unpack it.

The season

Bentleigh Greens finished just one point off top spot in the NPL Victoria competition, ending up in second place behind consecutive premiers Heidelberg United.

They would have fancied their chances of a grand final berth in the NPL Victoria given their superb season in the league and spectacular FFA Cup form, but they were brought undone.

A 4-3 extra-time defeat by Avondale in the semi-final, where Avondale scored three times in the final ten minutes to come from behind and win, quickly brought those plans unstuck.

Despite that fantastic season in the league though, the FFA Cup is where they’ve shone and it all started with that incredible 1-0 Round of 32 victory over Hyundai A-League side Wellington Phoenix.

They backed it up in the following round with a 4-0 win over Northern NSW side Broadmeadow Magic, before meeting rivals Heidelberg United in the quarter-finals.

A late, late Jacob Alexander goal ensured Bentleigh locked up a Friday night clash with Adelaide United.

The history

It is the same Adelaide United club, don’t forget, which was beat 2-1 in extra-time by Redlands United in the 2015 FFA Cup.

What Bentleigh will be hoping Adelaide can’t conjure up is the same type of magic that Perth Glory did back when they met the Greens in the FFA Cup 2014 Semi Final.

Perth rolled Bentleigh 3-0 that day, which brought an end to the NPL Victoria’s side solid run to the final four of the competition. Glory were beaten to the trophy that year though – by none other than Adelaide United.

Bentleigh Greens Perth Glory 2014
Bentleigh were beat out by Perth in the 2014 Semi Finals.

They’d beat NPL NSW side Blacktown City 1-0 in the Round of 32, and backed it up with a 2-1 win over Sydney Olympic in the following round.

It took extra-time to overcome Adelaide City in the quarter-finals before they were beat out by Perth in the semis.

Friday night’s clash will be the first time Adelaide and Bentleigh have ever gone head to head.

The players

There’s been much made about the quality within the NPL Victoria, and indeed within the ranks of Bentleigh Greens.

Tyson Holmes is one man who has performed superbly throughout the club’s cup run, and has time and time again demonstrated his ability to unlock defences in key moments.

Chris Lucas Bentleigh Greens
Chris Lucas is one to watch for Bentleigh.

There’s goals in the likes of Matthew Thurtell and Christopher Lucas, who scored 16 and nine goals respectively in the league this season. Lucas scored a hat-trick in the Round of 16 win over Broadmeadow.

They have men at the back who can help keep things tight too – the likes of goalkeeper Ryan Scott who recently trialled with the Newcastle Jets, and captain Jack Webster.

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This article was originally published on the FFA Cup website.
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