Northcote held at home by Oakleigh
By Lou Verga
Northcote City’s three game winning streak was snapped as Oakleigh Cannons held the side to a 1-1 draw at John Cain Memorial Park on Saturday.
Evan Kounavelis gave his side the lead in the 18th minute with a silky lobbed finish, but it only lasted eight minutes as Mirjan Pavlovic’s close-range strike earned Oakleigh a point.
Northcote fashioned the first clear chance after just three minutes.
In-form striker Calvin Mbarga dispossessed an Oakleigh defender and charged through on goal, only to be denied by a strong save from John Honos.
The home side had another golden opportunity in the ninth minute when Mbarga squared the ball to James Kalifatidis, but Honos again got his body behind the strike to keep it scoreless against the odds.
Goran Lozanovski’s side were making all the inroads and were rewarded with the opening goal.
The ball fell to Kounavelis near the corner of the box, and the winger spotted Honos advancing before lifting a sublime lob over the Oakleigh stopper that dipped into the top corner.
Though the joy was short-lived for Northcote as Oakleigh equalised with its first meaningful opportunity.
Winger Kofi Danning put in a low cross from the right which Pavlovic controlled before prodding into the net to make it 1-1 after 25 minutes.
The rest of the first half was a tight affair as the sides went in level at the break.
Shortly after the restart Kounavelis looked for a second spectacular goal, curling the ball from a tight angle but seeing the effort whistle just wide of the far post.
Arthur Papas introduced Sean Rooney in search of a goal as Pavlovic continued to threaten, but still it was Northcote who looked most likely to find a winner.
In the 78th minute Mbarga’s pace once again got him in behind the defence but rather than shoot, the striker cut the ball back to the middle where Marino Gasparis arrived to whack his shot against a defender.
The Northcote players and fans claimed a handball, but the referee was not in agreement.
Oakleigh nearly pinched it in the final minute as substitute Rooney got good purchase on a volley inside the area, but Chris Theodoridis stood firm to palm it away as the contest finished in a draw.
Northcote City 1 (Kounavelis 18’) drew with Oakleigh Cannons 1 (Pavlovic 26’) at John Cain Memorial Park
Northcote: 22. Chris THEODORIDIS, 4. Jacob ELIOPOULOS, 19. Ryan GO, 8. James KALIFATIDIS, 12. Jordan WILKES, 6. Aaron WARD (17. Aron HANDAKAS 66’), 7. Bonel OBRADOVIC, 5. Greg LOMBARDO, 11. Evan KOUNAVELIS (18. Nikola MARKOVSKI 80’), 9. Calvin MBARGA, 10. Marino GASPARIS (23. Jonathan BOUNAS 85’)
Unused substitutes: 30. Jordan GIFKINS, 14. Anthony RAMZY
Yellow card(s): Kalifatidis 89’
Red card(s): None
Oakleigh: 76. John HONOS, 6. Steve PANTELIDIS, 21. Jakob WILLIAMS, 11. Kofi DANNING (16. Sean ROONEY 64’), 5. Aron WILFORD, 15. Jake McLEAN, 18. Adam LE CORNU, 14. Mirjan PAVLOVIC, 12. Tremayne SADLER (3. John BLACK 62’), 26. Lambros HONOS, 10. Dean PIEMONTE
Unused substitutes: 2. Rowan McNAMEE, 35. Lajos HUN
Yellow card(s): Black 70’
Red card(s): None