The Bentleigh Greens have triumphed in the PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria ‘clash of the titans’, defeating top of the table South Melbourne in one of the matches of the season to date.
Bentleigh Greens 3 (Webster 79’, Thurtell 85’, Holmes 90’) South Melbourne 1 (Minopoulous 27’)
With the Greens trailing South by a single point going into the round, there was plenty at stake for both with South Melbourne having been unceremoniously knocked out of the cup by Bentleigh with the sides having already played each other three times this season.
It was the visitors who made all of the early running though, fielding a change of structure from past years as Chris Taylor looked to make up for the loss of the suspended Milos Lujic by starting Manuel Herrero alongside Leigh Minopoulos up front with Nick Epifano sitting just behind as a number 10.
It was Minopoulous who struck home the opener just before the half hour mark, getting on the end of some fantastic work down the left from Marcus Schroen, who beat a man before his low cross was almost deflected into his own net by Webster but for a great save from Ryan Scott.
They couldn't keep out the rebound though as Minopoulous strode in to slot home, giving the visitors a deserved lead.
With Bentleigh seemingly unable to deal with the high press which South were applying they were dealt a major lifeline in the 41st minute with South Melbourne defender Luke Adams getting on the wrong side of the energetic Chris Lucas, bringing the striker down before being shown his marching orders after being deemed as the last man.
The decision seemed harsh at the time with South Melbourne players and coaches up in arms along with a vocal away support who all felt that a red card was not necessary.
Remarkably, South Melbourne continued to dominate the match early in the second period, despite being down to ten men and almost doubled their lead midway through the second half but for another great save from Scott who atoned for his error which cost the Greens an equaliser against the Melbourne Victory last weekend, keeping his side in the match.
Things seemed to go from bad to worse for the Greens in the 65th minute though as substitute Kamal Ibrahim was shown a straight red card for what seemed to be a stray elbow on Matthew Millar, sparking a coming together of both players on the half way line with even both goalkeepers facing off eye to eye on the half way line.
The red seemed to finally spark the Greens into life and they scored the equaliser in the 79th minute though centre back Jack Webster who powerfully headed home from a free kick to get Bentleigh back into the match as South begun to look vulnerable for the first time in the match.
That vulnerability was shown again just six minutes later as substitute Matt Thurtell latched onto a brilliant pass from former South man Tyson Holmes before lashing the ball home into the bottom corner past Nikola Roganovic to give Bentleigh a sensational lead with just five minutes to play.
With the visitors throwing numbers forward it seemed like more late drama was on the cards with South desperate to find an equaliser but Bentleigh struck the knockout blow in stoppage time with Holmes stepping up again to rifle home from the edge of the area with one of the strikes of the season to make it 3-1, securing top spot for the Greens on the NPL Victoria table.
Richmond SC 0 Defeated by Pascoe Vale 1 (Prelevic 59’)
Pascoe Vale have secured a vital three points, defeating relegation threatened Richmond by a goal to nil at Kevin Bartlett Reserve on Friday night.
With both sides in desperate need of a win, Richmond went into the match missing key defenders Bryan Bran and Kris Kioussis meaning Jacob Williams had to drop from midfield to central defence in a makeshift back four.
Goalkeeper Tony Foglia was in fine form for the hosts, with the new signing making a number of critical saves to keep the sides level as Pascoe Vale dominated the match from the outset.
There was nothing he could do about the winning goal though as newly capped New Zealand international Luca Prelevic found space on the edge of the area before curling the ball into the corner past Foglia to make it 1-0 Pascoe Vale.
Despite having chances to kill off the match for good, Pascoe Vale were denied by some desperate defending from the hosts but a second goal wasn't needed with the final score finishing at 1-0 for the visitors.
Port Melbourne Sharks 0 Defeated by Heidelberg United 1 (Ellis pen 44’)
Heidelberg United did their best to keep up with the top two sides in NPL Victoria, recording a 1-0 victory against an out of form Port Melbourne outfit at JL Murphy Reserve on Friday night.
With the hosts coming into the game on the back of five consecutive defeats, having failed to score in all five of those, it seemed almost a formality that Heidelberg would record another victory.
The first half saw few chances for both sides though as Port Melbourne restricted the visitors in front of goal.
It was the hosts in fact who did most of the attacking with Adrain Zahra proving dangerous in the final third along with wingers Erhan Yalaz and Jamie De Abreau but all three were lacking composure in the final third, a story which has summarised Ports season to date so far.
The Bergers did strike just before half time though courtesy of a penalty kick which was well taken by Sean Ellis, who slotted home past Luke Gavalas in the Port Melbourne goal.
The second half saw both sides come out looking to lift the tempo of the match with Ken Atihu proving a threat with his size and strength.
And despite some late pressure from the hosts, no equaliser could be found with Heidelberg United confirming a critical result with the hosts having now lost six matches in a row.
Oakleigh Cannons 1 (Bosnjak 48’) defeated Melbourne Victory 0
The Oakleigh Cannons continued their charge into finals football this season with a solid 1-0 win over the Melbourne Victory on Friday night.
Coming off the back of an incredible 6-0 victory over Avondale FC last weekend, the Cannons were looking to continue their hot goal scoring form against the bottom side in the league who were coming off a spirited 2-1 defeat against Bentleigh.
After last weekends improved performance against one of the premier sides in the comp, the Victory showed they were no easy beats, moving the ball around well on a flat surface at Jack Edwards Reserve as Oakleigh were forced to work hard when not in possession.
The Cannons finally took the lead though just after half time as Dusan Bosnjak continued to strengthen his own NPLV Gold Medal hopes with a well taken opening goal, slotting home past Lucas Spinella to make it 1-0.
The visitors didn't lie down though, with skipper John McLean working tirelessly up front alongside fellow youngster Josh Hope but there was no equaliser to be found with the final whistle singling a second straight Victory for the Cannons.
Hume City FC 3 (Cahill 59' 87' Markelis 73') Melbourne Knights 0
A second half double from Tom Cahill and goal for Theo Markelis delivered Hume City three points and put a major dent in Melbourne Knights' top six ambitions.
Cahill opened the scoring when Nick Hegarty's tricky run through the right ended with a square ball to the unmarked Hume marksman at the top of the area.
Hume doubled their advantage when Kristian Trajceski's run through the middle found Hegarty on the right flank again, this time teeing up Theo Markelis for a side-foot finish from the penalty spot.
Chill completed the scoring when a Trajceski tackle in the forward third deflected perfectly to play through the striker and catch the Knights defence flat-footed.
FC Bulleen Lions 0 Green Gully 1 (Taseski 33')
Kliment Taseski's quick reaction to a bouncing cross into the area provided the only goal of the match at the Veneto Club on Monday night.
Green Gully goalkeeper Rani Dowisha had to be sharp between the posts as he denied Bulleen's best chance for an equaliser, a close-range shot from Ersin Kaya.
CLICK HERE for a full match reports from PS4 NPL Victoria Women's and PS4 NPL 2 Victoria.