The week's feature game came from Lakeside Stadium where South Melbourne hosted Hume City in the blockbuster clash of the round.
South Melbourne 2 (Lujic pen 45' 78’) Hume City FC 2 (Trajceski 33’, Markelis 80’)
With South crashing out of the FFA Cup at the hands of Bentleigh two weeks ago, the league has become a major priority for the former NSL powerhouse with Chris Taylor’s men needing at least a draw to guarantee holding top spot on the table for another round.
With both sides starting off in a positive fashion, both Milos Lujic for the hosts and Craig Carley for the visitors were guilty of missing one on one opportunities with two of the leagues premier keepers in Chris Oldfield and Nikola Roganovic making crucial saves early.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 33rd minute though by young attacking midfielder Kristian Trajceski who found space inside the area before smashing home past Roganovic who despite getting a strong hand to the ball, could only parry into the top corner to make it 1-0 Hume.
And just as it seemed as though Hume were going into the break with a 1-0 lead South Melbourne equalised with typically fantastic timing, winning a penalty in first half stoppage time.
Lujic made no mistake from the spot, showing composure to send Oldfield the wrong way to make it 1-1 with virtually the last kick of the half.
It was the home side who took charge in the second period, creating chances and dominating in possession as Hume struggled to create meaningful opportunities as the match wore on.
The introduction of Spanish import Manuel Herrero saw a change of system with South employing two strikers instead of the usual 4-2-3-1 system which has seen so much success in recent times.
Herrero’s impact was critical in creating the second goal for South with the former La Liga striker twisting and turning before putting an inch perfect cross into Lujic who slotted home to make it 2-1.
Hume’s response was instant though with the visitors taking all of 30 seconds to level up the game once again with a fantastic cross somehow finding its way to an unmarked Theo Markelis who made no mistake at the back post to make it 2-2.
Tempers flared just minutes later as a late tackle on Marcus Schroen saw a coming together of all 22 players on the field with a number of players at risk of being sent off.
Interestingly enough it was only Tim Mala of South Melbourne who was shown his marching orders alongside Hume assistant Zoran Markovski with Chris Taylor also seeing himself sent to the stands just moments later as the match threatened to boil over.
South, despite being down to ten men, looked the most likely to snatch a late winner with Lujic sliding a one on one just inches wide in the first minute of stoppage time before a sensational 25 yard drive from Schroen smashed against the cross bar with just seconds to play.
In the end neither side could be separated though with the final score 2-2 at Lakeside Stadium.
Port Melbourne Sharks 0 Green Gully FC 1 (Boland 9’)
Green Gully SC continued their surge up the NPL Victoria table with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Port Melbourne SC on Friday night.
Coming into the match just a few days after the FFA Cup round of 32 draw saw Gully drawn at home against Hyundai A-League side the Central Coast Mariners, Gully were focused on securing another vital three points following a draw against Northcote City last weekend.
Liam Boland proved to be the match winner with his strike in the 9th minute enough to secure the result for Arthur Papas men.
Port Melbourne, who have now lost four in a row pushed for an equaliser but were unable to find a way past one of the most experienced back four’s in the league anchored by skipper Rodrigo Vargas who continues to impress despite being just a few months shy of his 38th birthday.
The result means that Green Gully go level with Hume City on 34 points in 5th place on the NPL Victoria table whilst for Port Melbourne the result means that they continue to slide down the table with the Sharks now sitting in 9th place on 21 points with finals football looking increasingly unlikely for a second year running.
Melbourne Victory 1 (Theoharous 57’) Bentleigh Greens 2 (Lucas 50’, Honos 82’)
The Bentleigh Greens recorded a vital three points as they seek to take top spot off South Melbourne despite being pushed all the way by an improved Melbourne Victory outfit on Saturday afternoon.
With the Victory handed a six point deduction following the fan violence at Lakeside Stadium a few months ago, many expected the young side to be easily dismantled by one of the premier sides in Victoria but neither could be separated in an even first half.
Chris Lucas did open the scoring though just five minutes after half time to give the visitors the lead with a well taken finish.
Victory responded just seven minutes later though through youngster Christian Theoharous who scored against his former club for his first of the season as the Victory looked to cause one of the upsets of the season.
Those hopes were dashed just eight minutes from time though as veteran midfielder Lambros Honos scored his first goal for the club to secure the win despite being pushed all the way by the bottom side in the league.
Bentleigh now move just one point behind South Melbourne in second spot on the table with the two sides set to clash for the fourth time this season on Friday night in what promises to be one of the matches of the season.
Melbourne Knights 2 (McGarry 37’, 83’) Richmond SC 0
Melbourne Knights have temporarily dashed Richmond’s hopes of escaping the drop zone following their 2-0 win in a fiery clash at Knights Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
James McGarry scored at the end of each the first and second half to secure a brace and be the game winner for the Knights, keeping his team within touching distance of the finals; they still sit a win outside the top six and have built a six point gap on Pascoe Vale in eighth.
It was a vital win for Melbourne Knights in their hopes for a finals berth, especially considering four of their next five opponents are Hume City, Bentleigh Greens, Oakleigh Cannons and South Melbourne – all of whom occupy places in the top six.
Melbourne Knights are currently three points behind the Cannons, and a performance like this against an ever-plucky Richmond team will hold them in good-stead come the end of the season, even with their tough run of matches coming up.
The match saw two red cards flourished in a heated butting of heads at the end of the first half, with experienced campaigners Marijan Cvitkovic and Bryan Bran giving their marching orders on the 42nd minute.
Oakleigh Cannons 6 (Piemonte 15’, 33’, Bosnjak 50’, 54’, Hatzimouratis 65’, 90+2’) Avondale 0
Avondale have sunk to their fifth straight loss in the most devastating fashion, going down 6-0 to a rampant Oakleigh Cannons at Jack Edwards Reserve on Sunday.
The Cannons’ triple strike threat combination were the perpetrators of this demolition – Dean Piemonte, Dusan Bosnjak and Dimi Hatzimouratis each scoring a brace in perfect order to keep Oakleigh in the top six.
Piemonte secured his brace in the first half to see his time lead 2-0 at the break through two crackers; first a zinger of a shot from outside the box before he scored directly from the corner in the 33rd minute.
Bosnjak converted from two dead-ball situations within four minutes of each other, netting from a free kick then a penalty to put the game to bed.
But Hatzimouratis hadn’t had his fun yet, the striker bagging two goals in the final half hour of the match to help bridge the gap between Oakleigh’s goals for column to the other teams in the top six.
Heidelberg United 2 (Athiu 32’, Wilkes 55’) Northcote City 0
Heidelberg kept themselves on the heels of Bentleigh Greens and South Melbourne with another win at the Olympic Village, defeating Northcote City 2-0 on Sunday night.
An increasingly impressive Northcote made Heidelberg work for the full 90 minutes in this match, with Borbor Sam and Braedyn Crowley the main attacking outlets for GoranLozanovski’s men, while James Papadimitriou and Anthony Ramzy each contributed to throwing forays at a resilient Heidelberg back four.
It was Bergers striker Kenny Athiu which commenced the scoring when a swift end-to-end counter attack from their own defensive area, manufactured by Jack Petrie and John Lazaridis, ended with the 193cm-tall striker slotting it past Phil Petrovski to make it 1-0.
Former Northcote boy, Jordan Wilkes, scored against his former side in the 55th minute when he glanced a Sean Ellis corner in at the front post, and Heidelberg held on from there to keep a clean sheet and obtain all three points.
Northcote will have a good chance to get a win on the board next week when they take out an out-of-form Avondale, while Heidelberg will travel to Port Melbourne, who’ve lost their last four games on the trot.
FC Bulleen Lions 1 (Govas 15’) Pascoe Vale 1 (van’t Schip 41’)
Davey van’t Schip has continued his remarkable goal scoring form, bagging his sixth goal in five weeks to help Pascoe Vale take a point away from David Barro Stadium in a 1-1 draw with Bulleen Lions on Monday.
Coming off a three game winning streak, Pascoe Vale were brimming with confidence for the first time this season after an underwhelming year to date and expected nothing more than a win in this clash, but were apprehended by a Lions outfit desperate on avoiding relegation.
Van’t Schip netted just before the half-time break to cancel out Andreas Govas’ strike in the 15th minute when he pounced upon a Paco defensive error.
Both sides mounted opportunities for themselves in an attempt to find the winner at the start of the second half, but the match petered out in the final half hour as each team settled for a solitary point.
Alon Blumgart started for Bulleen in this match and will take on his former club, Green Gully, in next weekend’s Monday night football clash at the Veneto Club.
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