Two of the competition’s lowest scoring teams failed to find the back of the net in a disappointing 0-0 draw between the Port Melbourne Sharks and Bulleen Lions at JL Murphy Reserve.
Bentleigh Greens 3 (Ibrahim 65, Wallace 76, Ruthven 90+4) Green Gully 0
Bentleigh extended their lead on top of the PlayStation 4 NPL ladder to eight points after a dominant second half saw the Greens defeat Green Gully 3-0 at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex on Friday night.
With both sides having one eye on Tuesday’s crucial Westfield FFA Cup fixtures, chances were few and far between in the opening half with Chris Lucas hitting the post and Anthony Ragusa seeing his effort well saved by Ryan Scott.
The visitors have been plagued by injury in recent weeks and rested several starters with the toll taking its effect in the second-half as reigning Gold Medallist Kamal Ibrahim opened his Greens account with a splendid curling effort outside the box which dipped over Rani Dowisha and underneath the crossbar.
One soon became two in similar fashion as Captain Wayne Wallace set himself up before unleashing past Dowisha for his third goal in as many games and ninth overall for the season.
Gully’s woes were compounded in injury time as goalkeeper Dowisha saw red for handling the ball outside the area with Troy Ruthven converting the resulting free-kick into the bottom corner of the net.
Pascoe Vale 2 (Lazarides 20', Gasparis 76 pen.) Oakleigh Cannons 1 (Piemonte 81')
Pascoe Vale have ended Oakleigh’s five game winning streak by defeating the Cannons 2-1 at CB Smith Reserve on Friday night.
The hosts had much of the early ascendancy and opened the scoring when Davey van’t Schip’s shot was saved by John Honos only for Matthew Lazarides to tap the ball home at the follow-up.
Vale almost doubled their lead immediately after only for Honos to force Carl Recchia’s header over the bar after a delightful free-kick into the box from Marino Gasparis.
Ioannis Georgopoulos did his best to level the scores only to be denied by Alex Pavlidis who also did well to deny Dean Piemonte from netting an equaliser in the second half.
Those saves proved pivotal as mid-season signing Gonzalo Munoz was brought down in the box allowing fellow new arrival Marino Gasparis to step and double the host’s advantage.
That lead was reduced not long after as Dean Piemonte netted his eight goal of the campaign with a well taken shot outside the box, however that strike proved to be mere consolation as Vitale Ferrante’s men collected their sixth victory from the past eight fixtures.
Port Melbourne Sharks 0 Bulleen Lions 0
With both sides desperate for the win to edge closer to relegation safety, Andreas Govas’ low-hit free-kick was saved by Sharks shot-stopper Luke Gavalas early into the contest.
The hosts nearly opened the scoring when David Stirton’s header was scrambled away only for the striker to launch a follow-up shot which was cleared off the line much to the relief off the Bulleen defence.
Eric Vassiliadis’ side got even closer to breaking the deadlock when Alan Kearney’s curling effort had Griffin McMaster beaten only to smash against the crossbar.
In an end-to-end opening half, the last major opportunity of the half fell to the Lions Japanese attacker Takanori Nishimoto whose well-hit half-volley was tremendously saved by the fingertips of Gavalas.
Both sides attempted to make the breakthrough in the second period only to be frustrated as both moved a step closer to avoid automatic relegation with the Sharks ending a barren run of seven straight defeats.
South Melbourne 1 (Herrero 88’) Avondale FC 3 (Flemming 5’, Germano 9’, 53’)
South Melbourne’s title chances may have taken one final blow, going down 3-1 against an impressive Avondale FC outfit at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Avondale got themselves off to the perfect start with veteran midfielder Jeff Flemming getting on the end of a fantastic set piece by Massimo Murdocca, flicking the ball past Nikola Roganovic to put the visitors in front.
South had a few chances to equalise moments later with Matthew Millar going close on a few occasions but he was unable to find the finishing touch to get South level.
That frustration was then compounded moments later as a loss of possession on the half way line saw Nick Symeoy clip the ball over the top towards Jonathan Germano who, despite being put under strong pressure from Tim Mala, got the ball down and half-volleyed an unstoppable strike into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
Germano was pulling the strings everywhere, with the former Melbourne City midfielder causing major headaches for the South defence with a wonderful through ball finding Mathew Sanders, who despite putting the ball into the back of the net had moved into an offside position.
South's day went from bad to worse just before half time as yet another Germano pass found the onrushing Jem Berkant who collided with Nikola Roganovic as the 'keeper tried to claim the ball.
With the South keeper unable to continue, Chris Taylor brought on Zaim Zenelli and within moments the substitute stopper made a telling contribution, tipping an attempted bicycle kick from just six yards out over the crossbar to keep his side in the match.
The hosts came into the second period looking to get themselves back into the contest but it was Avondale who struck the killer blow as another defensive lapse saw Nick Symeoy's cross not dealt with by Michael Eager, allowing Germano to rifle home into the top corner to make it 3-0.
South looked certain to have gotten one back through substitute Manolo Herrero, when his header came off the post before being incredibly battered off the goal line by an almost back-flipping Chris May, who adjusted his body expertly to jump over the ball yet still clear the ball away.
Herrero did eventually get his goal via a heavy deflection in the 88th minute but it wasn't enough as Avondale ran away 3-1 winners at Lakeside Stadium.
Northcote City 1 (Karvouniaris 22’) Richmond 3 (Roorda 80’, Niagioran 84’, Caniglia 89’)
Richmond recorded a vital 3-1 victory over fellow relegation strugglers Northcote City on Saturday afternoon at John Cain Memorial Reserve.
The home side got off to an early lead as centre back Michalis Karvouniaris headed home from close range to give the hosts a critical 1-0 lead.
Northcote could've doubled that advantage soon after the halftime break as Borbor Sam forced Richmond keeper Tony Foglia into a vital save while big man Jonathan Bounas also had a goal chalked off for a foul.
With the match ticking over into the last ten minutes, Richmond needed a spark and they got it courtesy of dutch maestro Geert-Arend Roorda who volleyed home past Phil Petrovski to make it 1-1 in the 80th minute after a great assist by Hamlet Armenian.
The goal seemed to spark Richmond into life and they punctured the Northcote defence again just a few minutes later as a great run and cross again from Armenian found the imposing Nick Niagioran who slotted home from close range to make it 2-1.
With the hosts still stunned at going behind Richmond added a third in the last minute of normal time as Alex Caniglia struck home through the legs of Petrovski to seal an absolutely critical three points for the visiting side with the final score 3-1.
Heidelberg United 2 (Athiu 1’, 34’) Hume City 1 (Markelis 28’)
Heidelberg United have moved into second position on the PlayStattion 4 NPL Victoria table, defeating Hume City 2-1 in a tense match on Sunday night.
With the visitors coming off a penalty shootout win against Marconi in the midweek FFA Cup Round of 32 fixture, some players seemed to look a little jaded as Heidelberg fired out of the blocks early.
Ken Athiu made the most of some sluggish Hume City defending to prod home the opener in the opening minute of the match.
Parity was restored just before the half hour mark as Theo Markelis curled the ball home into the top corner past Chris Theodoridis from the edge of the area to make it 1-1, bringing Hume right back into he contest.
The deadlock only lasted six minutes though as a fantastic through ball from Kostas Kanakaris found Athiu who yet again made no mistake, slotting home past Jordan Franken in the Hume City goal to make it 2-1 Heidelberg United.
Hume then had major cries for a handball waved away in the second period as a goal line scramble saw the ball very nearly going over but for some dramatic defending.
The visitors were adamant that a hand was used in the clearance but English Premier League referee Stuart Attwell (on exchange as part of an FFA program with the referees association in England) waved play on.
And despite some late pressure from the visitors it was Heidelberg who came away with a critical three points with the final score 2-1 for the home side.
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