Former Victory youngster who scored a Champions League goal & played in Japan is now starring in NPL

It was another entertaining weekend of football in the National Premier Leagues, and beyond, across Australia. KEEPUP brings you the best bits.

Waring puts on a show

Pierce Waring has emerged as one of the most prolific goalscorers in NPLM VIC this season following his four-goal haul for Green Gully.

The former Melbourne Victory youngster was on target in Gully’s 5-2 mauling of Altona Magic on Friday night, a memorable outing that took his tally to 13 goals in 2023, level with Jonas Markovski – the son of iconic former NSL and Socceroo John – in the Golden Boot race.

The 24-year-old has scored five goals in his past three games for Gully, who are sixth in the standings and 22 points off the pace after 18 rounds ahead of their showdown against league-leading Avondale FC.

Waring is a familiar face in Melbourne and one of three ex-Victory players in the Gully team, along with Gianluca Iannucci and Josh Hope.

Waring joined Victory’s youth team in 2015 and made his first senior appearance for the club in February 2018 – replacing Besart Berisha in a 3-0 win at home to Adelaide United.

He featured in four league matches that season as Kevin Muscat’s side won the A-League Men Championship.

His first goal for Victory came in the AFC Champions League – Waring capping his first start in April 2018 with a goal against Chinese powerhouse Shanghai SIPG, who were boasting Hulk, as the Melbourne team stunned Vitor Pereira’s visitors 2-1.

Born in Melbourne to an Australian father and a Japanese mother, Waring – who spent four years of his childhood in Japan – joined J1 League side Cerezo Osaka in 2018.

While he did not represent the senior team, he did play for the Under-23 side across two years before returning home to Victoria via Bentleigh Greens, though he did spend a brief period with Chinese second-tier club Sichuan Jiuniu in 2021.

Elsewhere over the weekend, Avondale eased past lowly Moreland City 3-0 thanks to a Liam Boland double. In round 15, he made history by becoming the first player to reach 100 goals in the NPL Victoria era – surpassing former Oakleigh Cannons and South Melbourne forward Milos Lujic.

Defending champions Oakleigh overcame St Albans 2-0, despite a red card in the second half.

Is this Eagle destined for the Liberty A-League?

Kurea Okino has well and truly taken NPLW VIC by storm this season, and her performance for Boroondara-Carey Eagles over the weekend.

The Japanese forward scored a hat-trick in Boroondara’s 7-0 demolition of Box Hill United.

Okino has now scored 20 goals in just 13 games. To put that into perspective, no other NPLW VIC player is in double digits – the next best are Asuka Doi (Box Hill) and Kayla Deaver (Bayside United), who have both scored eight apiece.

There was Deja vu at Veneto Club on Saturday, with Okino celebrating a three-goal haul against Box Hill, just like she did against the same opposition the last time they met.

Okino – who arrived following two successful seasons at ga FC Kunoischi-Mie in Nadeshiko League Division 1 – opened the scoring in the 17th minute and added to her goals in the 47th and 57th minutes as Emily Sutcliffe and Ellen Turner contributed two goals each.

The Eagles are second in the standings, a point behind leaders Bulleen Lions, who took down FV Emerging 2-1 thanks to goals via A-Leagues pair Tyla-Jay Vlajnic and Alana Jancevski.

Vlajnic starred as Western United reached the Liberty A-League Grand Final in 2022-23 and Jancevski was a standout for Perth Glory.

Bulleen’s side also boasts others who featured in the Liberty A-League last season – the likes of Tiffany Eliadis, Paige Zois and Maja Markovski.

In NPLW QLD, pacesetters Lions FC made might work of Souths United 4-0 while NPLW WA title challengers Fremantle City crushed Curtin University 12-0.

NPLW SA leaders Adelaide United were held to a 1-1 draw by WT Birkalla as West Adelaide humbled Fulham United 1-0.

Bend it like Sapsford

Zac Sapsford scored a stunning free-kick for Western Sydney Wanderers in their thrilling 2-2 draw at home to Wollongong Wolves in NPLM NSW.

After Ariath Piol put the Wanderers ahead in the 16th minute, Sapsford stepped up and curled a set-piece off the underside off the crossbar and into the back of the net eight minutes before half-time.

Wollongong did go on to overturn the deficit in the second half and earn a point.

It was another moment of magic from Sapsford, who also scored a gem of a goal in Western Sydney’s wild 6-3 victory against Sydney United the week prior.

The 20-year-old crossed the derby divide ahead of the 2022-23 season, swapping Sydney FC for the Wanderers.

Sapsford got his first of Isuzu UTE A-League football last term, making five senior appearances for Marko Rudan’s Western Sydney – who reached the Finals Series for the first time since 2016-17 but fell to the Sky Blues in the Elimination Final.

In the longest running derby in Australian football, rivals Marconi and APIA Leichhardt played out a 1-1 draw.

Jack Stewart’s 89th-minute equaliser salvaged a point for APIA, who are level on points with Marconi and Rockdale Illinden atop the standings.

Rockdale took down Sutherland Sharks 1-0.

Five-star Spanish fuels Strikers

Runaway NPLM Tasmania leaders Devonport Strikers put Launceston City to the sword in an 8-1 humbling and it was thanks to Roberto Fernandez Garrido.

Fernandez scored five goals to lead Devonport to a merciless performance against Launceston, who had only conceded 10 goals in their nine matches for the season prior to Saturday.

Defending champions Devonport are unbeaten through 10 rounds, with nine wins and a draw, while they are four points clear of Glenorchy Knights.

Elsewhere, NPLM SA leaders MetroStars routed South Adelaide Panthers 5-1.

Scott McDonald’s NPLM QLD-leading defending champions Gold Coast Knights drew 1-1 at Moreton Bay United as Gold Coast United accounted for Eastern Suburbs 3-0.

The title race is tightening up in NPLM WA after Kotaro Yamamoto’s hat-tricked inspired Balcatta Etna’s 4-2 win against Inglewood United.

Couple with Perth RedStar’s loss to Stirling Macedonia, Balcatta and RedStar are level at the top of the table.