Bentleigh sneaks past resilient North Geelong
By TONCI PRUSAC
Photo IVAN DUGANDZIC
Bentleigh Greens came, saw and conquered Elcho Park on Saturday afternoon, running out 1-0 winners at game’s end but not before a solid, hard fought duel with bottom side North Geelong.
The Warriors lived up to their name and took it right up to the high flying Greens, with the only goal of the game coming in the 48th minute, courtesy of Matthew Thurtell amidst much controversy.
The visitors came to Geelong intent on intimidating the cellar dwellers. The fact that John Anastasiadis’ men racked up five yellow cards during the course of the afternoon and North received three cautions was a testament to the physical nature of the contest.
The Greens had their best chance to open the scoring in the 18th minute when Thurtell bounced a rebound to the impressive Christopher Lucas, whose shot was magnificently blocked by North custodian Daniel Zilic.
The home side had to wait until the 37th minute to have their best chance of the opening period, with defender Darren Lewis crossing inch perfectly to Michael Anderson in the goalmouth. The speedy attacker turned deceptively in the box, beat the keeper, but was unable to conquer the crossbar.
The spectators were just settling into their seats for the second half when the Greens scored the only goal of the game in the 48th minute.
As a long searching ball was pumped upfield from the Greens’ defensive half, the entire North defensive unit stopped as they appealed for an off-side, along with the Warriors bench and the parochial crowd on the terraces.
Nonetheless, the assistant’s flag stayed down and Thurtell kept going. Easily rounding Zilic, he calmly slotted the ball into an empty net to give the visitors the lead.
New Warrior, Gareth Richards, recruited from NPL1 outfit Moreland City during the week, came on to replace another recent signing, Yusuf Yusuf, in an effort to ignite a spark into North’s attacking game.
Unfortunately for the local supporters, the scoreline remained 1-0 to the Greens, although Micky Colina’s men showed enough to suggest they won’t go down to NPL1 next year without one almighty fight.
North Geelong 0 lost to Bentleigh Greens 1 (M. Thurtell 48’) at Elcho Park
North Geelong: 1 Daniel ZILIC, 16 Michael GRGIC, 3 Matt TOWNLEY, 2 Darren LEWIS, 17 Nicholas JURCIC, 4 Nikola JURKOVIC, 18 Stipe TRBUHOVIC, 10 Yusuf YUSUF (19 Gareth RICHARDS 64’), 9 Ridvan SAGLAM, 11 Juso JULARDZIJA, 23 Michael ANDERSON.
Subs not used: 6 Josh PUGH, 5 Anthony BANOVAC, 31 Antonio BARESIC
Yellow Cards: Julardzija 14’, Jurkovic 34’, Grgic 42’.
Red Cards: None
Bentleigh Greens: 21 Alistair BRAY, 4 Troy RUTHVEN, 5 Jack WEBSTER, 6 Liam McCORMICK, 9 Christopher LUCAS, 10 Tyson HOLMES, 11 Dion KIRK, 18 Matthew THURTELL (23 Austin WONG 84’), 19 Daniel VISEVIC (7 Jamie DEBREU 62’), 24 Luke PILKINGTON, 36 Steven TOPALOVIC
Subs not used: 1 Ryan SCOTT, 17 Ryan LOVE,
Yellow Cards: Topalovic 20’, Webster 43’, Visevic 52’, Ruthven 57’, Pilkington 87’.
Red Cards: None