Pascoe Vale recorded their third successive victory to move well clear from the relegation pack with a convincing 3-0 triumph over a struggling Port Melbourne side at CB Smith Reserve on Friday night.
Pascoe Vale 3 (van’t Schip 13', 27', Prelevic 75') Port Melbourne Sharks 0
The deadlock was broken early on when Davey van’t Schip latched onto a loose pass from James Riccobene before firing home from just outside the edge of the penalty area.
The Dutchman soon doubled his side’s advantage with a stunning turn and volley in one motion to notch up his second brace in the space of seven days and his sixth goal of the season overall.
The former Richmond forward had a golden opportunity to complete his hat-trick early on in the second half only to butcher his penalty kick much to the amusement of those in attendance who braved the wintery conditions.
However the Rams would get their third of the evening late on when Luka Prelevic scored against his former club having recently returned from international duty with New Zealand, helping the Kiwis claim the 2016 Oceania Cup.
For the Sharks, the defeat was their sixth in seven outings and raises concerns of whether they will get caught up in the relegation scrapheap after falling away from finals contention and without the services of star striker David Stirton who is currently serving a five game suspension.
Oakleigh Cannons 2 (Zoric 25', Bosnjak 38') Bentleigh Greens 3 (Pilkington 3', Thurtell 45', Wallace 75')
The Bentleigh Greens continued to heap pressure on front-runners thanks to a hard-fought 3-2 victory away to rivals Oakleigh Cannons at Jack Edwards Reserve on a rain-soaked Friday evening.
The visitors got the ball rolling in the third minute when a Ryan Paczkowski free-kick was forced home by make-shift centre-back Luke Pilkington.
A moment of individual brilliance saw Oakleigh level the scoring when winger Goran Zoric bamboozled his way past a number of Bentleigh defenders before chipping goalkeeper Ryan Scott for his first goal of the season.
The Greens custodian then gifted Oakleigh the lead when squandering possession to Dimitri Hatzimouratis before fouling the forward inside the penalty area with a carless lunge.
Playmaker Dusan Bosnjak stepped up to give his side the lead by sending the goalkeeper the wrong way for his 11th of the season.
The hosts nearly grabbed a third just a minute later when a near post shot by ex-Greens attacker Dean Piemonte was forced onto the post by Scott.
John Anastasiadis’ side pushed for an equaliser before the break and were duly rewarded when Matt Thurtell scored in the dying seconds of the half for his fourth in as many games.
Bentleigh brought on Kamal Ibrahim at the half-time break with both sides having a goal ruled out on each end for infringements on the goalkeeper.
With each side pressing for the lead, the Greens got it in the 75 minute when captain Wayne Wallace collected a loose ball in the box to hammer home past John Honos as his side recorded their second straight away victory over the Oakleigh Cannons having not won at Jack Edwards Reserve in their six previous outings dating back to 2004.
South Melbourne 3 (Lujic 54', Kecojevic 66', Manolo 77') Richmond 2 (Niagorian 62', Cileli 81')
League front-runners South Melbourne four home wins on the bounce following a narrow 3-2 win over relegation battlers Richmond at Lakeside Stadium on Friday night.
As expected, the hosts had the better of the opportunities in a goalless first-half with the competitions top goalscorer Milos Lujic and the re-energised Andy Kecojevic seeing their efforts denied by Gian Tapia in Richmond goal.
However Lujic found the back of the net nine minutes after the restart with an ice cool finish after a goal-mouth scramble in the box where the visitors failed to clear their lines.
South’s nemesis from the 6-3 defeat earlier in the season was to come back to haunt them once again as substitute Nicolas Niagorian scored the equaliser after being played through.
South found their way back in front minutes later when 18 year-old Kecojevic chipped Tapia with teammate Marcus Schroen making sure of it by tapping home on the line although the referee’s report credited the teenager with the goal.
He was replaced a short time later by new Spanish signing Manolo Herrero who made an immediate impact with a debut goal for the club in his third competitive appearance.
Mid-season Richmond signing Ratip Cileli halved the deficit to set up a standing finish to the contest with the hosts once more unconvincing in victory while Rick Mensink’s side can be pleased with their performance although bitterly disappointed not to have picked up a point as they look to stay clear of the automatic relegation spots.
Northcote City 1 (Karvouniaris 39') 1 Green Gully (Davies 43')
Northcote City and Green Gully shared the spoils in an entertaining 1-1 draw at John Cain Memorial Reserve on Saturday afternoon.
The away team had a number of opportunities inside the opening twenty minutes without ever really testing former Sydney FC goalkeeper Anthony Bouzanis in Northcote goal.
Despite their early dominance, the hosts settled into the contest and were rewarded six minutes from the half-time whistle when Greek defender Michalis Karvouniaris nodded home from the corner to give his side the lead.
However the joy was to be short-lived as Gully equalised just before the break when mid-season signing Jay Davies flicked the ball into the net from close range for his second goal since joining the club from State League One outfit Cairnlea.
The home side almost hit the front once more early in the second half but Braedyn Crowley fired over the bar after being set up by Anthony Ramzy while Borbor Sam had his effort parried away by Gully custodian Rani Dowisha.
Bouzanis then had to be on guard to deny Rodrigo Vargas and Davies from claiming a second with both teams exchanging efforts for the remainder of the proceedings without any luck as they settled for a point each with Hercules undefeated in their past three home fixtures.
Hume City 6 (Carley 7', 63', P.Franjic 10', Hegarty 30', Trajceski 35', Cahill 57') Melbourne Victory 0
Hume City comprehensively dismantled a young Melbourne Victory outfit 6-0 at ABD Stadium on Saturday night.
The rout got off to a flying start when a long ball over the top from goalkeeper Chris Oldfield was met by compatriot Craig Carley who chip the ball home to open the scoring.
The lead was doubled three minutes later when the fit-again Petar Franjic headed home a Nick Hegarty corner-kick.
The Victory then had a number of chances to reduce the deficit only to be denied by an alert Oldfield and resolute Hume defence who were in no mood to get caught off guard.
Captain Hegarty added a third on the half hour mark following a sweeping counter to score in his 100th league game for the club on his 30th birthday.
A fantastic team-move then saw Lou Acevski’s men add a fourth with youngster Kristian Trajceski getting his second senior goal in consecutive outings to all but end the contest as the sides entered the half-time break.
Oldfield kept his clean sheet intact in the early minutes of the second period by denying Lucas Derrick and Christian Theoharous from grabbing a consolation strike.
However it was not to be as a Jeremy Walker cross up the other end was turned in by the head of Tom Cahill who got his name on the scoresheet before Carley grabbed his second from an acute angle to take his tally to six in his first four games for the club following his mid-season move from the Goulburn Valley Suns in NPL2.
He spurned an opportunity to net a hat-trick with Trajceski and Cahill also being denied their second on a night in which all the stars aligned for the resurgent City who are now unbeaten in their last five league fixtures.
Avondale FC 1 (Germano pen 24') 2 Heidelberg United (Pace 71', Ellis 73')
Heidelberg United retained third position on the ladder to stay within reach of the top two following a come from behind 2-1 win over Avondale at Knights Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The visitors had much of the early running but fell behind when Abrahim Yango was fouled in the penalty box, allowing Jonatan Germano to step up and score from the spot for the third game running.
Both teams exchanged chances for the remainder of the first period although the visitors were aggrieved on the stroke of half-time when a Kenny Athiu goal was disallowed much to the dismay of Heidelberg manager George Katsakis and his coaching staff.
More chances followed for the Bergers in the second half with Evan Markogiannakis doing well to have kept a clean sheet who did well to hold chances from Sean Ellis and Athiu.
However the Scotsman then delivered in a whipping free-kick which hit the crossbar and fell to Kosta Kanakaris who misfired only for veteran defender Steven Pace to bundle the ball home into the back of the net for the equaliser.
Two minutes had not surpassed before Heidelberg found their way in front when Athiu’s header downwards was flicked into goal by Ellis.
Despite their lead, the visitors continued to attack to no avail as Francesco Stella missed a last gasp chance for an equaliser as the Bergers collected their first three points in three to move seven points behind the second-placed Greens.
Bulleen Lions 1 (Cavallo 25') 1 Melbourne Knights (Cvitkovic 38')
The Bulleen Lions and Melbourne Knights played out a 1-1 draw on a cold Monday night at David Barro Stadium in a result which did neither side any favours.
Dominic Barba’s started the game the brighter of the two teams with Christian Cavallo tested Fraser Chalmers while midfielder Bardhi Hysolli was unable to keep his shot down.
Up the other end, Shayan Alinejad almost made an instant goalscoring return against his former club only to be denied by an alert Griffin McMaster.
The Lions took the lead not long after as Andreas Govas’ free-kick smacked the post and rebounded into the path of Cavallo who beat the offside trap to steer the volley into goal via a half-volley.
The lead could have been doubled in the following ten minute period if it were not for an inspired Chalmers in goal with the Queenslander making numerous saves to deny the likes of Cavallo and Govas from adding to the scoresheet.
A swift counter-attack saw the Knights find themselves on level terms as a Robert Zadworny ball into the danger area was met by Marijan Cvitkovic who converted at the second time of asking.
Right before the break, Bulleen missed a golden opportunity to take the lead when mid-season arrival Yahya Disasi elected to shot instead of squaring the ball across goal to an unmarked Ersin Kaya with his effort hitting the side netting.
The end-to-end action continued in the second half with neither team managing to produce the required end product to grab the winner.
Knights defender Ivan Grgic thought he had given his side the lead but was frustrated to find out he was ruled to offside when the ball was played through.
CLICK HERE for the match reports from PS4 NPL Victoria Women's and PS4 NPL 2 Victoria.