This weekend saw a number of critical fixtures in the PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria calendar with crunch matches at both ends of the table meaning there wasn't a dull moment over any of the games.
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By Brandon Galgano
Pascoe Vale 1 (Santilli 91’) Melbourne Knights 3 (Andrijasevic 28’, 90+5’, Hicks 57’)
In our Friday night feature game, it was the Melbourne Knights who took home an impressive 3-1 win against a reactive Pascoe Vale side who despite being second best for the majority of the contest, made a game of it at the end.
With both sides missing a number of key players, it was the Knights who were on top in the opening period, dominating in possession and creating key chances going forward.
Central midfielder Jason Hicks was central to Knights going forward showcasing a fantastic passing range while linking up fantastically with Knights skipper Andrijasevic who was prominent all evening.
After spurning a number of chances to take the lead early, the visitors finally made Pascoe Vale pay in the 28th minute as a Hicks corner was volleyed home by Andrijasevic to make it 1-0.
Despite the dominance, Pascoe Vale was still threatening on the counter attack but that lead was doubled just over ten minutes into the second period as Andrijasevic turned provider for Hicks who strode into the area, cut onto his non-preferred right foot before slotting past Alex Pavlidis for 2-0.
Knights keeper Michael O’Farrell pulled off a fantastic save to deny substitute Yusei Kitade, with the Japanese midfielder spurning a great chance after to get one back for the hosts.
Pascoe Vale, seemingly out of the match for the vast majority had then picked up and started pushing to get back into the match and the side got its goal back in the first minute of stoppage time with a well-taken free kick dispatched into the bottom corner by Luca Santilli
The midfielder was shown his marching orders straight after for what appeared to be his celebrations towards a few of the Knights players.
Determined to get an equaliser, Pascoe Vale continued to push and it looked like it had pulled off the impossible as Carl Recchia deflected a free kick into the goal in the 94th minute, but it was disallowed for handball and the veteran shown a second yellow for his troubles.
Down to nine men, Pascoe Vale was then caught on the counter as Andrijasevic popped up to slot home with almost the last kick of the game to secure a 3-1 victory for the Melbourne Knights.
Port Melbourne 0 Bentleigh Greens 1 (J.Webster 37’)
Bentleigh Greens continued its charge towards top spot with a solid 1-0 victory over Port Melbourne on Friday night.
With the win taking them to the top of the table for less than 24 hours before South Melbourne’s clash with Green Gully, it was a Jack Webster header which made the difference just seven minutes before half time for the visiting side.
Despite going behind Port Melbourne continued to heap pressure on the Bentleigh defence but the Sharks were unable to break through as John Anastasiadis men held on to claim a vital three points.
The result means that Port Melbourne sits just outside the top six in seventh place following indifferent form over the last month, while Bentleigh continues to heap pressure on South Melbourne at the top of the table.
Avondale FC 2 (Germano 10' pen., 90+2’) Richmond SC 2 (Baker-Daish 17’ pen., Caniglia 28’)
Avondale FC scraped a last-gasp draw against relegation battlers Richmond in a dramatic affair at Knights Stadium on Friday night.
With both sides in desperate need of a win coming into the contest, it was the home side who took an early lead as former Melbourne City utility Jonathan Germano slotted home from the penalty spot to make it 1-0 after ten minutes.
That lead was cut out just seven minutes later as Jake Baker-Daish stepped up to convert a spot kick of his own to level the scores, before Alex Caniglia continued his fine goalscoring form with a second in two weeks to give Richmond the lead going into the break.
Avondale pushed hard for a leveller and got it in the form of a stoppage time equaliser by Germano, who showed all his class with a clinical strike into the bottom corner to rescue a point for the home side with the final score 2-2.
Green Gully 0 South Melbourne 1 (Epifano 42' pen.)
By Matt McNamara
South Melbourne returned to winning ways but was forced to work hard for its tenth victory of the season following a 1-0 triumph away to Green Gully on Saturday afternoon.
A laboured first-half saw chances few and far between with there being plenty of physicality on display between two of the in-form teams of the competition.
A foul on South right-back Amadu Koroma by Gully defender Yohei Iwasaki presented Nick Epifano with a chance to score from the spot minutes out from the half-time break.
The exciting winger ensured there would be no repeat of last week's penalty mishaps by converting past Rani Dowisha much to the protests of the Gully goalkeeper, and his teammates who were incensed in their belief that Epifano's spot-kick should have been re-taken as he appeared to stutter his final step.
The physcial nature of the contest continued on in the second half with ten yellow cards being dished out by referee Shaun Evans with goal-scoring opportunities being limited.
However the contest burst into life in the final five minutes as Nikola Roganovic made two fantastic saves to deny Nick Krousoratis and Liam Boland before Krousoratis saw his shot beat the shot-stopper but not the man on the line in Marcus Schroen who cleared away.
The final whistle sounded soon after as South return back to the top of the ladder while Gully were left to rue their fourth defeat at home this season.
Northcote 2 (Ramzy 34', Crowley 39') Oakleigh Cannons 3 (Piemonte 26', Bosnjak 32', 84')
A Dusan Bosnjak inspired Oakleigh Cannons defeated Northcote City 3-2 at John Cain Memorial Reserve on Saturday afternnon.
The hosts were looking to put a couple of disappointing performances behind them having lost their previous two fixtures 5-0 while the visitors looked to push on after an impressive win over Heidelberg the week before.
Former Melbourne City youth team player Anthony Taranto made his debut for Goran Lozanovski's side but is was former Northcote forward Dean Piemonte who slotted home the opener in the 26th minute.
Bosnjak then doubled the lead soon after leaving many to wonder whether the home side would experience another drubbing this time around.
However Northcote roared back into the contest when Anthony Ramzy scored with their first good opportunity at goal before new recruit Braedyn Crowley joined his teammate on two goals for the season as the sides went into the break level.
With both sides doing their best to claim the lead in the second half, it took a moment of class from the in-form Bosnjak to drive home the winner and firmly entrench Oakleigh in the finals spot on the ladder while their hosts continue to languish in last position on the ladder.
Heidelberg United 4 (K. Athiu 10', 62', L. Doumbalis 14', J. Petrie 80') Melbourne Victory 2 (Katebian 74', 84')
Heidelberg United claimed its first three points in four fixtures after a comprehensive 4-2 display over the Melbourne Victory at Olympic Village on Sunday afternoon.
Kenny Athiu and Sean Ellis returned to the starting eleven as young goalkeeper Jack Evans made his league debut in place of the suspended Chris Theodoridis and departed Pasquale Gioffre.
The hosts began the contest on the front foot and found themselves up 2-0 inside the opening 20 minutes as Ellis combined with Athiu as the latter opened the scoring before the lead was doubled through the unlikely source of Les Doumbalis who's driving effort beat Lucas Spinella.
Victory hit the woodwork in its attempts at reducing the deficit while Evans was kept busy by making a number of saves to keep the visitors scoreless at half-time.
However the game was put to bed as a contest when Athiu netted his second of the afternoon to move up to joint-top scorer with Chris Lucas and Milos Lujic on nine goals for the campaign.
Victory marksman Joey Katebian then ensured his side would not go down without a fight by netting a double in quick succession to take his season tally to eight.
But Jack Petrie's strike late on ensured Heidelberg the win to put behind a poor week which saw the side also knocked out of the Westfield FFA Cup by Green Gully.
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