The match of the round was saved until last with a classic at the Veneto Club.
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The Bentleigh Greens bounced-back from last week’s disappointing loss to South Melbourne by defeating the Melbourne Knights 3-1 at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex on Friday night.
A double from captain Wayne Wallace and a further strike from substitute Matt Thurtell sealed the three points on a night where the goal of the night went to Knights playmaker Marijan Cvitkovic.
The hosts forced visiting goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers into two fantastic saves early on with Chris Lucas and Kamal Ibrahim denied by the in-from Queenslander and former Brisbane Roar shot-stopper.
A swinging corner from Jason Hicks met the head of Knights skipper Milan Batur whose header struck the crossbar and bounced back out before being cleared away the Greens defence.
That missed opportunity proved crucial as Bentleigh opened the scoring minutes later through a powerful header from Wallace who latched onto a cross from Ibrahim to head home past Chalmers.
The Englishman almost doubled his side’s lead soon after as the ball was cleared off the line only to fall into his path as he struck the post with another header as the teams headed into the break at 1-0.
The Greens started the second half in familiar fashion as Lucas teed up Ryan Paczkowski at the back post only for a Knights defender to heroically clear away and prevent a certain goal.
But a failure in defence to clear their lines saw the visitors punished when Wallace blasted the ball into the back of the net to notch up his third goal in five days to double Bentleigh’s lead.
Undeterred by the setback, the Knights pushed on and a cross from Stipo Andrijasevic was met by a flying kick from Cvitkovic who reduced the deficit in spectacular fashion to give his side hope.
But a miss-timed challenge from the experienced Ben Surey saw the Englishman pick up a second booking, leaving the visitors to finish off the contest with ten men.
The numerical disadvantaged immediately showed when a corner from the left was flicked on into the back of the net by half-time substitute Thurtell with Chalmers helpless to prevent his former Roar Youth Team teammate from making it 3-1 and ensuring Bentleigh picked up all three points.
Bulleen opened the scoring from a set piece against the run of play before the latest piece of Sami Nour magic had the home side two goals ahead at half time.
With it all to do, Heidelberg got the crucial next goal with Harry Noon’s volley.
Bulleen continued to repel the visitors and had the lead with five minutes to go but a wonder-strike from Sean Ellis sparked an amazing finish for George Katsakis’ side.
They added two more through substitute Kaine Sheppard and a Kenny Athiu header to keep pace at the top and make a statement about their title credentials.
South Melbourne 4 (Lujic 8’, Millar 30’, Minopoulos 53’ 68’) Oakleigh Cannons 1 (Hatzimouratis 50’)
South Melbourne remained at the top of the table with a comfortable win over Oakleigh at Lakeside Stadium.
First half goals from Milos Lujic and Matthew Millar set the tone before the visitors gave themselves a chance through Dimitri Hatzimouratis.
But a brace for Leigh Minopoulos on his first league start this season continued South’s perfect record on home soil.
Hume City 1 (Markelis 74’) Pascoe Vale 0
In a tense affair at ABD Stadium it took a bit of brilliance from Theo Markelis to break the deadlock as the winger stepped inside and released a 20-yard missile into the bottom corner to give his side the lead, after Kofi Danning had seen his volley smack the crossbar earlier.
Pascoe Vale fought for an equaliser and a golden chance fell to Adrain Talarico, but Chris Oldfield came up with a fantastic save to ensure Hume got back to winning ways.
Port Melbourne Sharks 3 (Honos 25’, Stirton 45’, 85’) Northcote City 0
Port bounced back from a loss to Heidelberg four days earlier against bottom-placed Northcote who had Assistant Coach Duly Abdul Karim temporarily taking the reins following the departure of Alex Gymnopoulos.
An unstoppable Lambros Honos strike that went in off the post opened the scoring before David Stirton was clinical on the stroke of half time. Northcote responded in the second half but couldn’t find a way past Stjepan Gal, as a penalty on the break won and converted by Stirton sealed the result.
Avondale FC 2 (Riccobene 64' 70') Melbourne Victory 1 (Dover pen 42')
Melbourne Victory stuck first against the run of play in this crucial early-season battle to move away form the relegation zone.
Kieran Dover's first-half penalty sent Victory to the rooms in front in spite of Avondale's control of the contest.
Lucas Spinella appeared to be keeping Avondale at bay with a top solo performance, but htere was nothing he could do to keep out Phil Riccobene's crashing header in the 64th minute.
Riccobene then completed the Avondale comeback when he met Oleksiy Khrapko's cross from the right to head in his second of the game.
Richmond 1 (Caniglia 22') Green Gully 2 (Christodoulou 28' 68')
Richmond's struggle to break free of the drop zone continued after giving up the lead at home against Green Gully.
Alex Caniglia curled in the opener but Gully were back on level terms soon after Evan Christodoulou ran onto a long ball to finish.
Christodoulou then netted the winner in the second half when his well-placed left-foot shot from the top of the box found the bottom right corner.
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