Northcote too strong for out of form Port Melbourne
By Brandon Galgano (@bgalgano94)
Northcote City has secured a vital three points in the race for a top six spot with a 2-0 victory against Port Melbourne on Friday night at JL Murphy Reserve.
Despite starting the game the stronger of the two sides, Port Melbourne fell away following an opener from James Kalifatidis and a long range free kick from Marinos Gasparis as the Sharks continue to search for a win in six matches.
The home side, without suspended coach Eric Vassiliadis, started the game off brightly but struggled to create any clear cut opportunities in the opening exchanges.
Northcote then had a golden chance to open the scoring as Kalifatidis was played clean through on goal but his effort was thwarted by the legs of Michael Stark who was quick of his line to deny the former Melbourne Victory youth striker.
It didn’t take Kalifatidis long to make things right for his side though, as he opened the scoring for Northcote in the 17th minute.
With Port unable to clear their lines the ball deflected back into the path of Kalifatidis who found himself one-on-one with Stark inside the six yard box.
There was to be no save this time though as the Northcote striker tucked the ball home into the bottom right corner to make it 1-0.
Kalifatidis was in the thick of the action for Northcote and could’ve doubled their lead just four minutes later but once again his finish was poor, hitting his effort straight at the goalkeeper.
The visitors did eventually get their second through Marinos Gasparis in the 37th minute.
Having won a free kick almost 30 yards out from goal, Gasparis elected to drive the ball straight at Stark, with the Port custodian spilling the ball through his legs and into the back of the net to make it 2-0 Northcote.
Port then suffered another major blow early in the second period as centre back Bryan Bran was forced off with a foot injury with the hosts already without suspended captain Shaun Kelly.
Calvin Mbarga then had two chances to add to the visitors lead, flashing the first opportunity just wide of the post before the second was bravely denied by Stark from point blank range.
Port begun to get themselves back into the game with the introduction of Kamal Ibrahim causing Northcote problems at the back but the former Melbourne Heart winger could only direct his effort on goal just over the crossbar following some neat build up play.
Gasparis was then close to adding his second of the match but his stinging low drive was well saved down low to his left by Stark.
And despite some late pressure from Port, Northcote held on to secure a vital three points against a Port Melbourne side who are in serious danger of slipping into a relegation battle.
Port Melbourne Sharks 0 Defeated by Northcote City 2 (Kalifatidis 17’, Gasparis 37’) at JL Murphy Reserve.
Port Melbourne XI: 25 Michael STARK, 3 James RICCOBENE, 4 Alan MULCAHY, 6 Chris GROSSMAN ©, 7 Adrian ZAHRA (20 Julius DAVIES 46’), 9 Trent RIXON, 10 Andrew MILICEVIC, 15 Kristopher KIOUSSIS (14 Kamal IBRAHIM 55’), 16 Alan KEARNEY, 21 Bryan BRAN (5 George KROMMIDAS 55’), 22 Ryan OPPERMAN
Unused Substitutes: 1 Stjepan GAL, 12 Alec GOODWIN
Yellow Cards: Kearney 33’, Ibrahim 67’
Red Cards: NIL
Northcote City XI: 22 Chris THEODORIDIS ©, 4 Jacob ELIOPOULOS, 5 Gregory LOMBARDO, 6 Aaron WARD (23 Jonathan BOUNAS 69’), 7 Bonel OBRADOVIC, 8 James KALIFADTIDIS (14 Anthony RAMZY 86’), 9 Calvin MBARGA, 10 Marinos GASPARIS, 11 Evan KOUNAVELIS (18 Nikola MARKOVSKI 90’), 12 Jordan WILKES, 19 Ryan GO
Unused Substitutes: 1 Mason INTERLANDI, 20 Nicholas KOKOLAKIS
Yellow Cards: NIL
Red Cards: NIL
VOTES: 3- Kalifadtidis, 2- Gasparis 1- Obradovic