Photo: Pascoe Vale
While some of the league’s sharpest shooters have struggled to capture form, others have led their side’s charge up the ladder from the front. From youngsters like Damian Iaconis and Elvis Kamsoba to tried-and-tested stars like Kenny Athiu, Matt Thurtell and of course Davey van ‘t Schip, here are the top 10 frontrunners for the 2017 NPL Victoria Golden Boot over one-third of the season.
1. Davey van’t Schip (Pascoe Vale) – 10 goals in 9 games (2 assists)
The Dutchman has been in devastatingly deadly form in front of goals this term and is enjoying a career best return. Like compatriot Arjen Robben, he loves to cut inside from either flanks and has been directly involved in 80% of Paco’s league goals this campaign. His form reportedly saw him lined up to sign on as an injury replacement for Fernando Brandan at Melbourne City although that move fell through with the 26-year-old now sitting on 31 goals from 101 VPL/NPL games.
2. Damian Iaconis (Kingston City) – 7 goals in 9 games (1 assist)
Arguably the revelation of the season, the 20 year-old had not featured in the Victorian top flight before this campaign but is making the most of his time in the top tier. Has 6 goals from his 5 games, becoming the main source of goals for Nick Tolios’ men having occupied a central position for much of the season. His goal tally at the 2016 NPL2 Champions now stands at an impressive 27 goals in 54 league matches – on average a goal every two games.
3. Kenny Athiu (Heidelberg United) – 6 goals in 8 games (2 assists)
The reigning NPL Players’ Player of the Year winning frontman had a slow start to the season by his own high standards but is beginning to assert himself once again. The South-Sudanese born forward scored a sensational double against the Melbourne Knights in Round 8 and at 24, is entering the prime of his career. Having spent much of his first season at Olympic Village in 2015 playing as an understudy to Daniel Heffernan, the former Box Hill forward now has 28 league goals in 53 games for the Bergers.
4. Matt Thurtell (Bentleigh Greens) – 6 goals in 9 games (2 assists)
The Queenslander appears to be back to his 2015 pre-ACL injury best having regained his fitness and form in front of goal. His combination work with his fellow attackers has been noteworthy as he like Athiu looks to force himself into the A-League shop window. A former Brisbane Roar youth product, the 24 year-old enjoyed an exemplary strike rate at the Brisbane Strikers which he has continued at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex, having netted 26 goals in 43 games.
5. Elvis Kamsoba (Melbourne Knights) – 5 goals in 9 games (2 assists)
One of the most exciting young talents in the competition, the 20 year-old made the move to Melbourne in the summer having dazzled in South Australia’s top flight in recent years. The winger has trialled with both Adelaide United and Melbourne City previously and has stated that he has aspirations to play in the A-League. A keen dribbler, the winger has also shown his astute eye for goal and currently leading the goalscoring charts at Somers Street.
6. Sean Ellis (Heidelberg United) – 5 goals in 8 games (1 assist)
The Scottish wide forward has scored in just one of Heidelberg’s opening 8 league matches, having netted five against a sorry North Geelong Warriors at the start of the month. A Ross County junior, Ellis made a name for himself in Victoria thanks to his goalscoring exploits with the Goulburn Valley Suns in 2015. The 27-year-old also had his penalty saved in the Round 3 0-0 draw with St Albans but has performed well across the board and has now scored 15 goals in 32 league games for the Bergers.
7. Milos Lujic (South Melbourne) – 5 goals in 9 games (1 assist)
Like much of his teammates, the four-time reigning Golden Boot winner has not had the happiest of starts to the 2017 campaign. Upon until Monday’s Melbourne Derby, the 27 year-old had scored all four of his league goals to date from the penalty spot but opened his account from open play in spectacular fashion following a long range lob. Has now netted 77 league goals in 93 matches since joining the South in 2014 although an A-League opportunity appears to have passed him by.
8. Jonatan Germano (Avondale) – 5 goals in 7 games
A-League audiences might remember him as Melbourne City’s injury-prone defensive midfield hardman but the Argentine has reinvented himself in the NPL as an all-action attacking midfielder with an eye for goal. Having been sidelined at the beginning of the campaign, the 28 year-old eased himself back into the starting eleven and is the Avengers regular penalty and free-kick tacker. Has now scored 19 goals in 26 league games for Anthony Barbieri’s men and is an Australian citizen.
9. Liam Boland (Hume City) – 5 goals in 8 games
The tall forward turned 25 last week and has hit his straps at ABD Stadium having made the move from Green Gully in the off-season. Having struggled to find the right number nine in recent years, Dean Hennessey and his coaching staff appear to have found a winner in the Perth native who scored a brace in his first game for City after coming on a substitution against St Albans. He has combined well with captain Nick Hegarty and has 35 goals in 53 NPL Victoria appearances.
10. Alex Khrapko (Port Melbourne Sharks) – 5 goals in 9 games
The Ukrainian-born forward was a surprise deadline day signing for the Sharks who tasked him with filling the goalscoring boots of the departed David Stirton. Having arrived in Australia aged 12, the former Avondale attacker is now in his third spell at JL Murphy having first featured for Port almost a decade ago in the third tier. Has already matched the five goals he scored for them back in the 2012 State League One season and struck 28 times in 76 league games since NPL implementation in 2014.
Meanwhile in the second tier, reigning Golden Boot winner Brandon Barnes has continued his explosive form in front goal having netted 13 goals in 10 league games to take his tally up to an extraordinary haul of 55 goals in 37 matches. Ballarat City’s talismanic attacking midfielder Michael Trigger is in outright second place having scored 9 times, with 5 of those goals coming in last week’s 7-0 drubbing of the embattled Bendigo City. Veteran Moreland City forward Trent Rixon is experiencing a renaissance of sorts with the 2010 VPL Golden Boot winner netting 7 goals with welsh pair Josh Knight (Northcote City) and Adam Wright (Brunswick City) also occupying joint third on the goalscoring charts.
The womens competition – fresh off a weeks break over Easter – sees a straight shootout at the top between South Melbourne’s Melina Ayres and bolter Kyra Cooney-Cross from the Senior NTC. Ayres is no stranger to the upper echelons of NPLW goalscoring as the current holder of the Golden Boot award. The youngster has already registered 58 goals in her blossoming career, sitting on 11 goals from the opening seven fixtures at a rate of 1.57 goals a game. The fledgling Cooney-Cross has stormed into Golden Boot contention after registering six goals in her last three fixtures to take her tally to eight for the season from as many games – already four times her tally from last year.
Galaxy United trio Caitlin Pickett (six), Laura Spiranovic and Leigh Gray (both five) have shared the goalscoring load for the ladder leaders, while Hayley Geurts and Melanie Camilleri are responsible for 82% of Box Hill United’s league goals for 2017 with hauls of five and four respectively. Joining Camilleri on four are Caitlin Friend (Bulleen Lions), Cortnee Vine (Heidelberg United), Caitlin Greiser (South Melbourne) and Courtney Hueston (Southern United)