PS4 NPL Review Men's Round 26 / Women's Finals Week 1
PS4 NPL Victoria Round 26
By Ahmed Yussuf
Hume City 0 Bulleen Lions 2 (Nishimoto 22’, Nour 24’)
Bulleen Lions took a vital three points away at ABD Stadium defeating Hume City 2-0 to claim safety on the final day.
After a slow start Bulleen got into a groove midway through the first half scoring two goals in relatively quick succession. Takanori Nishimoto kicked off the scoring with a header to beat stand-in goalkeeper Jordan Franken. And within two minutes Sami Nour doubled the lead for the visitors.
However unlike Bulleen Hume had a raft of chances early on, two of which fell to wide-man Theo Markelis.
Markelis got his opportunity from a nicely timed Jeremy Walker ball into the area that the former Victory man volleyed on goal. But Bulleen’s shot-stopper Griffin McMaster was equal to it, saving his sides blushes early.
Moments later, Markelis would push Bulleen’s resolve further. This time a cross out wide from striker Craig Carley finds the diminutive Markelis who with his small frame finds space to header on goal. But the header is placed to central making the save simpler for McMaster.
The tide began to turn in the game. Bulleen started to put together passes and find space in behind the Hume defense. Matteo Ballan lobbed a lovely ball into Nathan Tidmarsh who beats Hume's offside trap but his effort is wide.
Bulleen challenged the Hume when they stretched the play wide. Davide Cardamone’s wayward cross finds Ersin Kaya on the opposite flank. The former Hume man finds Nishimoto with the cross who headers in the opener.
Bulleen started to play with a sort of swagger after breaking the deadlock. A neat string of passing between Josh Barresi and Nishimoto opens space for Nour to run into. Barresi saw the run of Nour and cleverly slid in a pass that helped Nour’s momentum for his nonchalant toe-poke finish.
Hume hit back immediately with a dangerous set piece but Bulleen ‘keeper McMaster was there to provide the buffer. Walker retrieved the ball and found space to fling in a cross. However Shane Rexhepi’s headed effort flew inches over the upright.
As the game went on Hume increasing grew more desperate to get on the score sheet. Things looked to have changed when Markelis swung a ball into the area that found the head of Carley. But as the ball found the back of the net the linesman’s flag rose, as the referee adjudged the goal to be offside.
Hume had a last roll of the dice to create a nervy last few minutes. Captain Nick Hegarty’s stood over the free kick but Rexhepi again was unable to direct his header into back of the net.
Melbourne Victory 1 (Derrick 26’) Heidelberg United 4 (Ellis 3’, Doumbalis 19’, Athiu 47’, McGilp 63’)
Heidelberg United secured second place in the NPL Victoria ladder finishing above last season’s champions and bitter rivals South Melbourne after a 4-1 victory against relegated Melbourne Victory.
Heidelberg started red-hot with two first half goals courtesy of Sean Ellis and Les Doumbalis before being pegged back by Luke Derrick. However, striker Kenny Athiu sealed victory with a goal early in the second half before a Victory own goal.
It didn’t take long for Heidelberg to let their presence tell on proceedings. The away side broke the deadlock within the opening three minutes of the game after a long-range curler of a free kick from Sean Ellis.
In no time Heidelberg doubled their lead with a power strike from Les Doumbalis found the bottom corner.
Despite being relegated Victory showed character grabbing a goal soon after Doumbalis made it 2-0 for Heidelberg. Victory’s Lucas Derrick struckin the midst of a scramble in the box, finding the net for the boys in navy blue.
Athiu instantly restored Heidelberg’s previous two-goal buffer in the restart of the second half.
The game was put to bed in bitter circumstance for the home side. Victory’s Cameron McGilp attempted clearance went into his own net.
Bentleigh Greens 4 (Paczkowski 17’ 45’, Archibald 54’, Olsen 76’) Port Melbourne Sharks 1 (Goodwin 19’)
Bentleigh Greens played their final home game of the season in style going out 4-1 winners against bottom half side Port Melbourne.
Bentleigh were on a high from securing the domestic double, the Dockerty Cup and NPL Victoria title. Ryan Paczkowski opened the scoring before Alec Goodwin pegged the home side back.
The equalizer was short lived as Paczkowski completed his brace. Second half exploits from Ross Archibald and Fin Olsen rounded out Bentleigh’s victory.
Former Port man Kamal Ibrahim almost made his former employers pay when he rounded the keeper in opening minutes of the game. However, the former Melbourne Heart junior wasn’t able to finish on an acute angle.
Not long after Bentleigh were awarded a penalty after a foul on Dion Kirk. The Greens man stepped up to take the penalty but hits the bar. Paczkowski’s quick feet saved Kirk’s blushes, as he was first to the deflection to open the scoring for the home team.
Port clawed their way back with a peach of a shot from Alec Goodwin who equalized with great effect.
But moments before the break Paczkowski was Johnny on the spot again with a smartly timed run to finish a tap in.
Port was vulnerable at set plays, and Greens defender Ross Archibald’s header proved just that.
The game was rounded off with Fin Olsen grabbing his first goal on debut for Bentleigh after a run into the box and sliding finish.
Melbourne Knights 1 (McGarry 80’) Pascoe Vale 2 (Lazarides 47’, Prelevic 68’)
Pascoe Vale grabbed all three points away from home against Melbourne Knights.
Paco opened the scoring in the first minute of the second half through Matthew Lazarides, before Luka Prelevic doubled their lead midway through the half. A late McGarry goal caused a nervy few minutes as Paco held on.
Former Northcote man Marino Gasparis puts in his free kick in a dangerous position troubling Knights ‘keeper Fraser Chalmers. Luca Santilli capitalizes on the loose ball but his header hits the crossbar.
Knights trouble Paco with an attack of their own, and if not for intervention Paco would be starring at a deficit. Knights man Jurkovic bundled the ball over the line but the referee calls for offside.
Lazarides tested Chalmers, getting around the Knights shot-stopper and into a vacant net. Lazarides would make no mistake putting the away side in front right after the break.
Lazarides found himself involved again with Paco. This time with some neat play with Gonzalo Munoz before finding Prelevic who rifled the ball to make it 2-0.
With less than ten minutes to play plus stoppage time Paco concede. Knights midfielder James McGarry hit the target to beat Paco ‘keeper Dennys Martin from his right.
Richmond 1 (Barker-Daish pen 30’) Avondale FC 1 (Khrapko 52’)
By Brandon Galgano
On a day where three sides could get relegated from the top flight of Victorian football, we turned our attention to one of those in Richmond FC who took on an in form Avondale side at Kevin Bartlett Reserve on Sunday afternoon.
With the visitors coming to the match on the back of a four match winning streak but with virtually nothing to play for it was always going to be interesting to see just how seriously the side from North-West Melbourne would handle the clash against a side fighting to stay in the division.
The match itself was a somewhat dour affair though as neither side really clicked into gear throughout an injury riddled first half.
The hosts opened the scoring with virtually the first shot on goal, all be it from the penalty spot, after big man Nick Niagioran was brought down in the area via a clumsy challenge from the usually ever reliable Michele Crazia in the 30th minute.
Jake Barker-Daish, who has established himself as one of the leading spot kick takers in the division this season, made no mistake from the spot, sending Chris May the wrong way to open the scoring.
Both sides were hit by injuries just before the break though with almost nine minutes of time added on at the end of the first half after extended injury breaks first coming after Jacob Williams went down with a suspected knee injury, then young right back Declan Lambert was collected by a stray boot from Oleksiy Khrapko with a suspected shattered nasal bone the result of the nasty collision.
After those two injuries had taken place just minutes before first half stoppage time it was then Avonalde who were struck by the injury curse as Abraham Yango went down clutching his calf and had to be replaced with seconds to go before half time.
Avonalde were forced into a second change at the break as Phil Riccobene was substituted meaning both sides went into the final period with just a single change up their sleeves.
It didn't take long for Avondale to level things up though as they punctured the Richmond defence with virtually their first attack of the match with a low cross finding Khrapko who slid home the finish into the bottom corner.
With news around the grounds filtering through that Bulleen were ahead of Hume and Northcote were behind against Oakleigh the intensity of the match seemed to drop right off as Richmond knew despite what they did in the end on the day, they would be playing in the relegation playoff in a few weeks time.
The full time whistle was almost music to the ears of viewers at the match with the dour affair ending at 1-1 meaning Richmond have avoided relegation, at least for the time being, to NPL2 next season.
Oakleigh Cannons 3 (Hatzimouratis 53’, Bosnjak 78’, 84’) Northcote City 0
Northcote have been relegated along with the Melbourne Victory out of the top flight of Victorian football for the 2017 season following a 3-0 final day defeat to Oakleigh on Sunday afternoon.
Having almost single handedly resurrected the clubs season since taking over half way through the campaign, embattled coach Goran Lozanovski claimed his side would go into the match ‘’with nothing to lose’’ as they sought to overtake either Richmond or Bulleen provided they won their match and hope other results on the day went their way.
The first half was a tense affair though as Oakleigh looked the most likely to open the scoring.
Goalkeeper Phil Petrovski, who now has been relegated with three seperate clubs (Moreland Zebras 2012, Goulburn Valley Suns 2014, Northcote 2016) was determined to keep his side in the match with a number of important stops but it was to no avail as Oakleigh opened the scoring just before half time through Dimitri Hatzimouratis.
The former South Melbourne man was then substituted shortly after with injury which paved the way for Dusan Bosnjak to take charge and potentially give his own Gold Medal hopes a massive boost.
The big striker made Northcote pay twice in the last twelve minutes with two composed finishes to seal the result meaning Northcote would be relegated to the second tier of Victorian football for the first time since 2009 at the hands of the man who took them up from State League two all those years ago in Peter Tsolakis, now manager of Oakleigh.
The result also sees Oakleigh lock in fourth position and a home final against Green Gully on Friday night.
South Melbourne 4 (Lujic 57’, 76’, Konstantinidis 66’, Schroen 84’) Green Gully 2 (Christodoulou 24’, Shannon 90’)
South Melbourne have entered the finals on a winning high, defeating a gritty Green Gully side 4-2 at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
With the club needing to get a result and hope that Heidelberg go down against bottom placed Melbourne Victory to attain second position on the table, things took a turn for the worse just before the half hour mark as Evan Christodoulou slotted home at the back post to make it 1-0 Gully, a lead which they held going into the break.
With the home supporters clearly getting frustrated up stepped who else but Milos Lujic to turn the match on its head, equalising just before the hour mark for his 24th of the season before defender Kristian Konstantinidis also got in on the act with his second of the campaign.
Lujic then extended that lead with just under a quarter of an hour to play, racing onto a Marcus Schroen through ball to slot home his 25th of the season before the provided turned scorer to seemingly round up the points as Schroen turning and blasting home past Rani Dowisha in the Green Gully goal to make it 4-1.
A late Lewis Foster volley, which was arguably one of the best goals we've seen in recent weeks, with the Gully man simply smashing the ball into the corner past Nikola Roganovic, was merely a consolation as South Melbourne secured the result, but with Heidelberg doing the job against the Victory it means that South will host Hume in a do or die elimination final next weekend.
PS4 NPLW Victoria - Finals Week 1
Qualifying Final - Calder United 2 (Barilla 52' Lay 54') Alamein FC 1 (Cordner 20')
Calder United advanced to the Grand Final thanks to a quick-fire double in the second half to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Alamein.
Windy heavily favouring one end of Keilor Park meant the game was severely compromised in terms of standard, with Alamein with it at their backs in the first half and Calder in the second.
Hannah Keane's shot from the top of the area in the 19th minute forced a good save from Calder goalkeeper Bethany Mason-Jones. The resulting corner was headed in for the opening goal by Harriet Cordner.
Alamein could not capitalise further on the wind assistance and took a 1-0 lead to half time.
Calder capitalised almost immediately at the start of the second half, with Enza Barilla running through the Alamein defence to equalise in the 51st minute. A parry into the path of Cindy Lay provided a tap-in just two minutes later.
Calder would control possession and territory thereafter, with Alamein's best chance for an equaliser coming when Brittany Thomas volleyed wide of the left-hand post.
Elimination Final - FC Bulleen Lions 0 Geelong Galaxy United 6 (Spiranovic 15' 16' Komijat 22' Elsen 41' Kuralay 69' Al-Huneidi 90+6')
Geelong Galaxy dumped Bulleen out of finals in emphatic fashion with a 6-0 triumph at David Barro Stadium.
Laura Spiranovic scored twice in just over a minute to break the contest open after 15 minutes. The first goal came from a corner that tumbled through the penalty area to an unmarked Spiranovic to turn in from close range. The second after Bulleen coughed up possession at the top of their defensive penalty area.
Kariah White had the assist for Geelong's second and third goals, again running down an errant pass in defence to play in Aneta Komijat for a tap-in.
Spiranovic broke into the attacking half to set up Geelong's four, her shot from the right was blocked, as was Komijat's follow-up, but Brit Elsen was able to score in the scramble.
In the second half, Sel Kuralay capitalised on another Bulleen turn-over to score Geelong's fifth, before Lulu Al-Huneidi rounded out the scoring in stoppage time.
PS4 NPL Victoria NPL 2 East Round 26
Dandenong City 0 Springvale White Eagles 3 (Pykett 14, 75, Stoilovic 48)
The Springvale White Eagles defeated local rivals Dandenong City after a dominant 3-0 triumph at Frank Holohan Soccer Complex on Saturday afternoon.
The scoring was opened 15 minutes into the first half when English forward John Pykett netted his tenth of the season to give the visitors an early lead.
The margin was doubled inside the opening few minutes of the second half when the prolific Damir Stoilovic scored goal number 15 of the season.
Pykett extended the deficit 15 minutes from time as his second of the afternoon ensured the White Eagles closed the gap on their rivals in fourth spot on the league ladder following their first away win against Dandenong City since 2013.
Murray United 2 (Greenwood 74, Pye pen 76) Eastern Lions 0
Murray United have secured their first home win of the season following a 2-0 victory over the in-form Eastern Lions at La Trobe University Sporting Fields on Saturday afternoon.
A quiet opening half hour saw chances few and far between before Lions striker Philip Ajao went close to opening the scoring when his shot cannoned off the woodwork which denied the Nigerian his third goal in as many matches.
The hosts improved in the second half and were duly rewarded when half-time substitute Lewis Greenwood launched a screamer into the top corner. The scoreline was doubled two minutes later when Sean Pye converted a penalty before marksman Zac Walker missed a golden opportunity to extend his side’s lead although the spurned chance didn’t affect the final scoreline.
The result means United will not claim the dreaded wooden spoon as they moved onto 10 points for the season, seven ahead of Nunawading who they meet on the final day of the season.
Box Hill United 2 (Simos 50, Boahene 53) 1 Nunawading City (Gathercole 67)
Box Hill United claimed their first win in five matches following a narrow 2-1 triumph over Nunawading City at Wembley Park on Saturday afternoon.
Having taken a 3-0 lead inside the opening ten minutes of their previous clash in Round 9, United found the going much tougher this time around as the City defence proved resolute throughout the first half.
However the scoring was opened five minutes following the resumption of play when teenage defender Thomas Simos netted the second goal of his senior career in his 17th start of the season.
The lead was doubled shortly afterwards when Kobbie Boahene found himself in the right place to convert a second and his fifth overall for the season.
Dan Gathercole reduced the deficit mid-way through the second half although the youngster’s fourth goal of the campaign proved to be only a mere consolation.
Dandenong Thunder 3 (Korcari pen 7, 78, Barnes 32) Kingston City 4 (Stamatiou 24, Koukal 33, 69, McNamee 84)
A late Rowan McNamee strike gave Kingston City a memorable 4-3 win over league leader Dandenong Thunder at George Andrews Reserve on Saturday night to keep the automatic promotion race alive in NPL2 East.
Returning forward Veton Korcari slotted in an early penalty after Brandon Barnes had been fouled in the box by George Stavridis.
City equalised mid-way through the first half as Nick Stamatiou’s brilliant volley bounced into the bottom corner of the net only for Barnes to restore Thunder’s advantage just after the half hour. Not to be outdone, midfielder Zdenek Koukal restored parity a minute later as his flick on bounced in of the woodwork. Koukal then handed Kingston the lead after a surging run from Hamish Millar saw him tee up the former Czech Republic youth international.
Korcari’s second leveled proceedings once more shortly afterwards but McNamee and Kingston had the last laugh to prevail in a enthralling seven-goal thriller.
Goulburn Valley Suns 0 Brunswick City 3 (Wright 45p, 84, Portillo 62)
Brunswick City have extended their undefeated run to 12 games with an impressive 3-0 away win over the Goulburn Valley Suns at McEwen Reserve on Sunday afternoon.
Welshman Adam Wright opened the scoring for the Spartans in first half stoppage time following a successful spot-kick.
Attacking midfielder Jose Portillo doubled their advantage just after the hour mark with his sixth goal of the campaign.
The three points were sealed six minutes from time when Wright scored his second of the contest and 15th for the season in what was Daniel Heffernan’s final game for the Suns with the former Heidelberg and Central Coast forward joining Bali United in Indonesia.
Brunswick’s dominant win sees George Karkaletsis’ men jump to third in the East standings as they continue late season assault up the ladder.
PS4 NPL Victoria NPL 2 West Round 26
by Mark Gojszyk
St Albans Saints 1 (McGuffie 40') Sunshine George Cross 0
In a low key contest at Churchill reserve, apart from a big save from Alex Baird early, a set-piece goal did the trick for St Albans at a point in the season where any type of win, regardless of how scrappy, is a good win.
It came five minutes before the break when Joey Monek provided another goalscoring contribution, with his corner kick finding Ryan McGuffie who emphatically headed the ball home – his ninth goal of the season at a rate of better than one every three games.
That was the way the game stayed, with chances otherwise at a premium for both sides.
North Geelong Warriors 0 Moreland City 0
There were no goals at Elcho Park but not for a lack of trying as it just wasn’t North Geelong’s day with the ball seemingly unable to find the back of the net.
Kieran McDowell also proved to be a big stumbling block, making a number of stops, including one early when Vito Cichello had a shot from outside the box that forces the custodian into a save.
The chances continued to build especially in the second when the likes of Kene Eze and Matt Thorne couldn’t take advantage of good opportunities.
Then came a 90th minute penalty which the Warriors thought was going to be their avenue to a crucial three points, but McDowell denied Matt Townley with a superb dive to his right to make the save, frustrating his opponents a final time.
Moreland Zebras 1 (Sabidussi 85') Whittlesea Ranges 0
Only one goal was shared by the top three as Whittlesea Ranges were held scoreless in a 1-0 defeat to Moreland Zebras.
One of the great enigmas of the league, the Zebras beat the Ranges, who last week beat Murray United, who this week went on to defeat Eastern Lions, who just last week defeated the Zebras.
Regardless of that sequence of results, the game was heading towards a scoreless draw, but an Andrew Milicevic red card seemed to have an effect on the game.
Not having Naum Sekulovski due to a red card the week prior didn’t help, and a Joshua Sabidussi goal in the 85th minute did the trick for Moreland, the hosts walking away with the 1-0 win.
Werribee City 3 (Mammone, Voulgaris, Weaver) Melbourne City 5 (Metcalfe x2, Sarwari, Ahmed, OG)
Melbourne City picked up an important three points to stay four points behind North Geelong with two games remaining.
Despite Werribee taking the lead twice, City rallied and ended up running out 5-3 winners.
A brace to Connor Metcalfe, singles to Mehdi Sarwari and Yusuf Ahmed, plus an own goal cancelled out goals to Werribee’s usual suspects in Ben Mammone, Jonathan Voulgaris and Shaun Weaver.
Ballarat Red Devils 1 (Karras 51') Bendigo City 2 (Basha 20', Sporle 40')
This game was essentially a dead rubber between Bendigo and Ballarat, with the former taking out the Goldfields derby.
Bendigo City enjoyed a 2-1 defeat of the Ballarat Red Devils at Morshead Park.
Dave King had a couple of early chances but Bendigo struck first through Godwill Basha.
Basha then set up fellow striker Matt Sporle with a cross and the scores were 2-0.
Pat Karras then scores from a scramble in the box after a Mitrovic shot saved for 1-2.
Despite opportunities to the likes of Romein, George, and King later on, Bendigo were able to hold on for their fourth win of the campaign