PS4 NPL Review Men's Round 13 / Women's Round 11
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PS4 NPL Victoria
By Brandon Galgano
This weekend saw a number of critical fixtures in the PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria calendar with crunch matches at both ends of the table meaning there wasn't a dull moment over any of the games.
Pascoe Vale 1 (Santilli 91’) Melbourne Knights 3 (Andrijasevic 28’, 90+5’, Hicks 57’)
In our Friday night feature game, it was the Melbourne Knights who took home an impressive 3-1 win against a reactive Pascoe Vale side who despite being second best for the majority of the contest, made a game of it at the end.
With both sides missing a number of key players, it was the Knights who were on top in the opening period, dominating in possession and creating key chances going forward.
Central midfielder Jason Hicks was central to Knights going forward showcasing a fantastic passing range while linking up fantastically with Knights skipper Andrijasevic who was prominent all evening.
After spurning a number of chances to take the lead early, the visitors finally made Pascoe Vale pay in the 28th minute as a Hicks corner was volleyed home by Andrijasevic to make it 1-0.
Despite the dominance, Pascoe Vale was still threatening on the counter attack but that lead was doubled just over ten minutes into the second period as Andrijasevic turned provider for Hicks who strode into the area, cut onto his non-preferred right foot before slotting past Alex Pavlidis for 2-0.
Knights keeper Michael O’Farrell pulled off a fantastic save to deny substitute Yusei Kitade, with the Japanese midfielder spurning a great chance after to get one back for the hosts.
Pascoe Vale, seemingly out of the match for the vast majority had then picked up and started pushing to get back into the match and the side got its goal back in the first minute of stoppage time with a well-taken free kick dispatched into the bottom corner by Luca Santilli
The midfielder was shown his marching orders straight after for what appeared to be his celebrations towards a few of the Knights players.
Determined to get an equaliser, Pascoe Vale continued to push and it looked like it had pulled off the impossible as Carl Recchia deflected a free kick into the goal in the 94th minute, but it was disallowed for handball and the veteran shown a second yellow for his troubles.
Down to nine men, Pascoe Vale was then caught on the counter as Andrijasevic popped up to slot home with almost the last kick of the game to secure a 3-1 victory for the Melbourne Knights.
Port Melbourne 0 Bentleigh Greens 1 (J.Webster 37’)
Bentleigh Greens continued its charge towards top spot with a solid 1-0 victory over Port Melbourne on Friday night.
With the win taking them to the top of the table for less than 24 hours before South Melbourne’s clash with Green Gully, it was a Jack Webster header which made the difference just seven minutes before half time for the visiting side.
Despite going behind Port Melbourne continued to heap pressure on the Bentleigh defence but the Sharks were unable to break through as John Anastasiadis men held on to claim a vital three points.
The result means that Port Melbourne sits just outside the top six in seventh place following indifferent form over the last month, while Bentleigh continues to heap pressure on South Melbourne at the top of the table.
Avondale FC 2 (Germano 10' pen., 90+2’) Richmond SC 2 (Baker-Daish 17’ pen., Caniglia 28’)
Avondale FC scraped a last-gasp draw against relegation battlers Richmond in a dramatic affair at Knights Stadium on Friday night.
With both sides in desperate need of a win coming into the contest, it was the home side who took an early lead as former Melbourne City utility Jonathan Germano slotted home from the penalty spot to make it 1-0 after ten minutes.
That lead was cut out just seven minutes later as Jake Baker-Daish stepped up to convert a spot kick of his own to level the scores, before Alex Caniglia continued his fine goalscoring form with a second in two weeks to give Richmond the lead going into the break.
Avondale pushed hard for a leveller and got it in the form of a stoppage time equaliser by Germano, who showed all his class with a clinical strike into the bottom corner to rescue a point for the home side with the final score 2-2.
Green Gully 0 South Melbourne 1 (Epifano 42' pen.)
By Matt McNamara
South Melbourne returned to winning ways but was forced to work hard for its tenth victory of the season following a 1-0 triumph away to Green Gully on Saturday afternoon.
A laboured first-half saw chances few and far between with there being plenty of physicality on display between two of the in-form teams of the competition.
A foul on South right-back Amadu Koroma by Gully defender Yohei Iwasaki presented Nick Epifano with a chance to score from the spot minutes out from the half-time break.
The exciting winger ensured there would be no repeat of last week's penalty mishaps by converting past Rani Dowisha much to the protests of the Gully goalkeeper, and his teammates who were incensed in their belief that Epifano's spot-kick should have been re-taken as he appeared to stutter his final step.
The physcial nature of the contest continued on in the second half with ten yellow cards being dished out by referee Shaun Evans with goal-scoring opportunities being limited.
However the contest burst into life in the final five minutes as Nikola Roganovic made two fantastic saves to deny Nick Krousoratis and Liam Boland before Krousoratis saw his shot beat the shot-stopper but not the man on the line in Marcus Schroen who cleared away.
The final whistle sounded soon after as South return back to the top of the ladder while Gully were left to rue their fourth defeat at home this season.
Northcote 2 (Ramzy 34', Crowley 39') Oakleigh Cannons 3 (Piemonte 26', Bosnjak 32', 84')
A Dusan Bosnjak inspired Oakleigh Cannons defeated Northcote City 3-2 at John Cain Memorial Reserve on Saturday afternnon.
The hosts were looking to put a couple of disappointing performances behind them having lost their previous two fixtures 5-0 while the visitors looked to push on after an impressive win over Heidelberg the week before.
Former Melbourne City youth team player Anthony Taranto made his debut for Goran Lozanovski's side but is was former Northcote forward Dean Piemonte who slotted home the opener in the 26th minute.
Bosnjak then doubled the lead soon after leaving many to wonder whether the home side would experience another drubbing this time around.
However Northcote roared back into the contest when Anthony Ramzy scored with their first good opportunity at goal before new recruit Braedyn Crowley joined his teammate on two goals for the season as the sides went into the break level.
With both sides doing their best to claim the lead in the second half, it took a moment of class from the in-form Bosnjak to drive home the winner and firmly entrench Oakleigh in the finals spot on the ladder while their hosts continue to languish in last position on the ladder
Heidelberg United 4 (K. Athiu 10', 62', L. Doumbalis 14', J. Petrie 80') Melbourne Victory 2 (Katebian 74', 84')
Heidelberg United claimed its first three points in four fixtures after a comprehensive 4-2 display over the Melbourne Victory at Olympic Village on Sunday afternoon.
Kenny Athiu and Sean Ellis returned to the starting eleven as young goalkeeper Jack Evans made his league debut in place of the suspended Chris Theodoridis and departed Pasquale Gioffre.
The hosts began the contest on the front foot and found themselves up 2-0 inside the opening 20 minutes as Ellis combined with Athiu as the latter opened the scoring before the lead was doubled through the unlikely source of Les Doumbalis who's driving effort beat Lucas Spinella.
Victory hit the woodwork in its attempts at reducing the deficit while Evans was kept busy by making a number of saves to keep the visitors scoreless at half-time.
However the game was put to bed as a contest when Athiu netted his second of the afternoon to move up to joint-top scorer with Chris Lucas and Milos Lujic on nine goals for the campaign.
Victory marksman Joey Katebian then ensured his side would not go down without a fight by netting a double in quick succession to take his season tally to eight.
But Jack Petrie's strike late on ensured Heidelberg the win to put behind a poor week which saw the side also knocked out of the Westfield FFA Cup by Green Gully.
PS4 NPL Victoria Women's
By Maisie Vachuska
Geelong Galaxy United 0 Box Hill United 0
Box Hill picked up a well earned 0-0 draw against Geelong Galaxy United on Friday night.
Neither team was able to find the upper hand but that was not for a lack of trying.
Galaxy had several outstanding attempts in the first half that which the side couldn't convert.
Annabel Martin was a standout player for the Geelong side, working tirelessly to set up a goal for her team while Box Hill 'keeper Emily Shields and defender Maren Heller kept their team in the game
Heidelberg United 0 FC Bulleen Lions 2 (Sernio 10' Privitelli 24')
Two early goals put Bulleen in control at Olympic Village. Tessa Sernio scored after 10 minutes and Lia Privitelli after 24 to give Bulleen an advantage it would hold until full time.
Bulleen enjoys a three-point lead at the top of table and also sports the strongest goal difference in the league at +23.
Calder United 2 (Alonso 36' 55') Bayside United 0
Goals for Rachel Alonso either side of half time ended Calder's mini-slump, while the struggle to find a third win of the season continues for Bayside.
Alonso's came courtesy of short, sharp passing through the right side as Enza Barilla, then Marie Rampal moved the ball to the striker's advantage for a close-range finish.
The second goal came from a scrappier build-up, with Alonso on hand to tap in as Bayside failed to clear their lines.
Alamein FC 1 (Ayres 22') Southern United 2 (Lines 53' Dudley-Smith 67')
Southern United broke through for their first senior win of the season after overturning a 1-0 half-time deficit against Alamein.
Tiff Eliadis was key to the turn-around, with both assists for the goals scored by Saprhi Lines and Brittany Dudley-Smith.
Melina Ayres had earlier put Alamein in front when a Chrstine Pfeiffer tackle in midfield ran on to play Ayres through one-on-one against Souther goalkeeper Freya Crocker.
Southern equalised when an Eliadis header bounced into the right side of the six-yard box for Lines to score against the post.
Dudley-Smith then held her feet in a pile-up of Alamein challenges to net the winner after Eliadis had played her through on goal.
PS4 NPL 2 East
By Marc Sudholz
Springvale White Eagles 0 Dandenong Thunder 1 (Sakhizada 17')
Dandenong Thunder proved that 13 is not always an unlucky number, maintaining its perfect record with a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Springvale White Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
In a tight, tense and physical encounter, it was a single header from the Thunder’s Afgan international Faisal Sakhizada that decided the contest.
The first chance of note fell to Springvale in the 9th minute, with John Pykett picking out Damir Stoilovic on the edge of the box, but the young forward looped his header over Maclaren, and wide of the post.
Brandon Barnes nearly broke the deadlock for the Thunder in the 15th minute, but his left foot volley flew wide of the post.
However the visitors didn't have to wait long to notch the only goal of the game.
Sakhizada rose highest from a freekick on the right wing to head home past the Springvale 'keeper.
Thunder nearly doubled its advantage in the 32nd minute, but Bennett’s shot was well saved by Hun in the Eagles’ goal.
John Pykett tested Maclaren in the final minute of the half, following a barnstorming run by Isaiah Joseph, and subsequent one-two with Stoilovic, the Thunder custodian saving down to his left.
Following the break, Barnes nearly scored within 30 seconds, however his left foot shot curled past the left post.
20 minutes later, Pykett again tested Maclaren as the home side pushed for an equaliser, before Barnes spurned a good chance down the other end just seconds later.
The game opened up from there, but chances were spurned at both ends of the pitch, and challenges flew in with unbeaten streaks at stake.
In the end it was Thunder's day, making it 13-straight wins to start the season, with their experience and size showing to grind out the 1-0 result.
Box Hill United 2 (Muriqi 87' pen., Kariuki 90+3') Dandenong City 0
Box Hill United left it late to break the deadlock against Dandenong City, opening a six-point gap from third place to fourth in the process.
Rinor Muriqi broke through with an 87th minute penalty before Michael Kariuki broke on the counter attack to steady and score from the left side of the area.
Goulburn Valley Suns 2 (Sellwood 36', Gaillard 78') defeated Eastern Lions 1 (Losty 45+1')
Goulburn Valley Suns continued their climb back up the mid-table by edging Eastern Lions 2-1 at McEwen Reserve.
Cody Sellwood capitalised on some apprehensive defending to break through the ride side of the box and score at the near post in the 36th minute.
But Goulburn Valley would cough up possession in their defensive third to allow Ryan Losty to run in and score on the stroke of half time.
The match was won by a touch of class from Anthony Gaillard. The Frenchman controlled a cross to the left side of the penalty area, before picking out the bottom right corner with a precise left-foot shot across the face of goal.
Nunawading City 3 (Damey 19', 57', Gathercole 90+1') defeated Murray United 1 (Greenwood 29')
Nunawading City posted the club's first NPL win as they powered past a Murray United unable to match the home team's commitment at Mahoney's Reserve.
Emile Damey netted the opener when he outmuscled the Murray defence to score from the left side of the penalty area. Lewis Greenwood pegged a goal back for Murray to have the teams level at the break.
Damey was on hand to tap-in the go-ahead goal early in the second half, and with Murray chasing an equaliser Dan Gathercole was able to capitalise and seal the points with a close range finish of his own in stoppage time.
Kingston City 2 (Mitrovic 3', Millar 17') Brunswick City 1 (Wright 90')
Kingston City may have established an early buffer against Brunswick City but had to toil thereafter to secure the three points at The Grange Reserve.
Velibor Mitrovic fired in from the right side of the penalty area to get Kingston rolling, before Hamish Millar was left unmarked at a corner as Brunswick failed to put a head on not one, but to aerial balls in the box.
Julien Chaumet still had to be sharp in goal to keep Brunswick from mounting a comeback, eventually beaten late by Adam Wright, who beat the offside trap to score one-on-one.
PS4 NPL 2 West
By Ahmed Yussuf
Moreland City 1 (Casey Thomas 62’) Moreland Zebras 0
Casey Thomas’ second half header ensured all three points for mid-table Moreland City in their 1-0 win against promotion chasers Moreland Zebras on Saturday afternoon.
The lone goal of the game came after a City breakaway move midway through the second period when Finn Huzzey found space in the Zebras defensive third to neatly weigh in a ball to Casey Thomas, who recreated Javier Hernandez’s famous backward header to pit his side in the lead.
The goal was just rewards for City who began the game the livelier.
South Sudanese international Apai Ukuno started the game as the lone striker, while strike partner Trent Rixon was seated on the bench.
Ukuno made the most of his time as the most central forward with the first real opportunity in the Moreland derby.
The striker was put in behind and only had Zebras’ gloveman Nikola Kostadinovski to beat, however, the Zebras' man was equal to it.
The Zebras struggled to match the form that saw them climb the table into second spot.
Their first look at goal came from a set play, when captain Mile Medjedovic rose highest to head on goal but his effort was clumsily saved by a shaky City backline.
But just as Zebras were finding it difficult to find any form, their star man Baggio Youssef came to the fore.
The attacker was tidily put through by Josh Sabidussi, but wasn’t able to find the necessary contact on goal.
At the other end, City hit back with a counter.
Striker Ukuno once again found himself one-on-one with Kostadinovski but was thwarted by the Zebras number one.
While City struggled to find that vital final ball, Zebras only port of attack was their danger at set pieces.
This time Milos Tosic was the danger man for City.
The defender found space in a congested penalty area and looked destined to put the Zebras in the lead, but right-back Emin Sele came up a vital intervention to clear the ball off the goal line.
After Casey Thomas’ lobbing header to beat goalkeeper Kostadinovski, Zebras were forced into action.
The away side sprung an instant attack led by James Papadimitriou, whose shot ricocheted off the post.
The follow up fell luckily to teammate Youssef, but he was unable to keep his shot from blazing over.
Sunshine George Cross 1 (Turer 34’) Melbourne City 2 (Ahmed 6’, Wong 57’)
Melbourne City’s 2-1 win away from home clinched a much-needed three points against Sunshine George Cross on Saturday afternoon.
After an early season slump with no wins in six games, City recaptured its form recording the side's fourth consecutive win.
Yusuf Ahmed put the visitors in the lead early doors, but with half time looming the Georgies found their way back into the game.
Veteran state league journeyman Ahmet Turer equalised with less than ten minutes to the break.
However City continued the form that’s seen them climb back up the PlayStation 4 NPL West ladder with a early second half winner from Austin Wong.
North Geelong Warriors 1 (Cichello 67’) Ballarat Red Devils 1 (Trigger 80’)
Michael Trigger grabbed a late equaliser for Ballarat Red Devils against North Geelong Warriors in their 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon.
The game began with the Red Devils testing North Geelong’s defensive abilities.
Warriors’ goalkeeper Daniel Zillic was put under pressure from the get-go but he was equal to the challenge, stopping a rampant Ballarat attack from making anything from its early dominance.
Midway through the second period Ballarat began to increase the pressure.
On a breakaway attack, Shaun Romein was set free to shoot on goal, the midfielder was unlucky hit the crossbar with his strike.
Ballarat was made to pay for their miss on goal after some neat interplay between North Geelong’s Anthony Banovac and Josh Pugh, Vito Cichello was found in space.
Cichello came up with a stunning strike from just inside the area to nestle the ball into the top corner.
North Geelong looked like collecting all three points until Ballarat’s Michael Trigger jinked his way to space in a crowded area to drive home a lovely finish to beat Zillic.
Whittlesea Ranges 2 (Brown 19’, Slefendorfas 85’) St Albans Saints 1 (McGuffie 90+5’)
10-man Whittlesea Ranges come out 2-1 victors against St Albans Saints on Saturday afternoon.
Whittlesea opened the scoring within 20 minutes when Saints ‘keeper Alex Baird palmed away a shot from distance which fell to attacker Jordan Brown, easily finishing from close quarters.
The Saints' best chance of the half fell to midfielder Joseph Monek, who tried to get on the end Josh King’s cut back at the far post.
But Monek mistimed his sliding run, watching as the ball trickle away from his grasp.
Ranges sealed the win late on with a goal from number nine George Slefendorfas.
The goal proved vital, as Andrew Taylor grabbed a second yellow and was sent off deep into stoppage time.
Ryan McGuffie did manage a consolation goal for Saint Albans late on.
Bendigo City 0 Werribee City 3 (Vidanoski5’ 73’, Marafioti (p) 65’)
Werribee City won its first game of the season on the side's travels against cellar dwellers Bendigo City 3-0 on Saturday afternoon.
The Bees opened the scoring early on through Bobby Vidanoski.
Bendigo then tightened up and held onto their 1-0 deficit, until having two players sent off in the space of seven minutes.
One of the players to be given an early shower was goalkeeper Donte Thomas, who conceded a penalty that was later dispatched by Domenico Marafioti.
Not long afterwards Werribee capped off the win with first half goal scorer Vidanoski grabbing his brace.