Comfortable Bentleigh back in title contention after win over Port Melbourne
By Damir Kulas (@DamirKulas)
Bentleigh Greens has recorded a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Port Melbourne on Friday night, reiterating their place as a title contender.
Goals either side of the break from Chris Lucas and substitute Liam McCormick settled the contest as the Greens extended their unbeaten start to the season to nine games.
Heading into the contest, the hosts were looking to put the disappointment of being eliminated from the FFA Cup behind them while the Sharks were searching for their first win in four.
A timid opening half hour to the game saw a rare opportunity, with Lucas forcing Port goalkeeper Stjepan Gal into making a comfortable save early on as he tried his luck from distance.
The early periods of the contest featured some nice interplay from Lucas and fellow Queenslander Matt Thurtell, while the Sharks looked to threaten up the other without ever launching a shot at Bentleigh goalkeeper Alastair Bray.
Just as it seemed like the sides would head into the break after an uninspiring first period, forward Daniel Visevic played a clever through-ball over the top which was met by the stretching Lucas, who slotted the ball home to give Bentleigh the lead.
Just a few minutes after that, the goalscorer almost had a second as his shot from the edge of the box was spectacularly saved by Gal with the ball bound for the top corner of the net.
The visitors lost influential defender Shaun Kelly at half-time through an injury and almost began the second-half in perfect fashion only for fellow centre-back Conor Reddan to spurn Kamal Ibrahim’s set piece into the box, and put it wide of goal.
Up the other end, stand-in Greens skipper Jack Webster – filling in for the suspended Wayne Wallace who had accumulated five yellow cards - saw his goal-bound header tipped over by Gal from a corner kick as the home side intensified their pressure in the hope of adding a second.
Visevic went close on two occasions but was unable to fire the ball home past his former Richmond teammate Gal before the introduction of Liam McCormick from the bench had an instantaneous impact.
Brought on in the 70th minute for Dion Kirk, the number six played a neat one-two with Tyson Holmes before finding himself one-on-one with Gal and finishing the chance of expertly.
With the contest effectively wrapped up, the Greens went in search of a third as the rain poured down, with Visevic and Thurtell failing to trouble Gal as the visitor’s late efforts in snatching a consolation failed to materialise in what was another disappointing performance.
Bentleigh Greens 2 (Lucas 37, McCormick 72) defeated the Port Melbourne Sharks 0 at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
BG: 21. Alastair Bray (GK), 2. Tom Matthews, 4. Troy Ruthven, 5. Jack Webster, 9. Chris Lucas, 10. Tyson Holmes (7. Jamie de Abreu 82’), 11. Dion Kirk (6. Liam McCormick 70’), 18. Matt Thurtell, 19. Daniel Visevic, 24. Luke Pilkington, 36. Steven Topalovic
Unused Subs: 1. Ryan Scott (GK), 15. Kobbie Boahene, 20. Davide Cardamone
Yellow Card(s): Matthews 28
Red Card(s): None
PM: 1. Stjepan Gal (GK), 2. Andrew Viola, 5. Nick Tzoulis (8. Brent Fisher 73’), 6. Chris Grossman, 9. Trent Rixon (11. Nicholas Krousoratis 65’), 14. Kamal Ibrahim, 16. Alan Kearney, 17. Erhan Yalaz, 19. Shaun Kelly (3. James Riccobene 46’), 22. Ryan Oppermann, 23. Conor Reddan
Unused Subs: 25. Michael Stark (GK), 10. Andrew Milicevic
Yellow Card(s): Ibrahim 30, Grossman 39, Yalaz 88
Red Card(s): None