Pascoe Vale FC 1-2 Avondale FC
Avondale are continuing to consolidate their strong National Premier Leagues (NPL) season, with yet another important win.
For a team that looked as if they were destined for third place, a position in the top two is now up for grabs after good couple of weeks and a few slip-ups from second-placed Bentleigh Greens.
An early 2-0 lead was enough to hold off Pascoe Vale, but there was little doubt that the red card to Pascoe benefited the Avengers.
It is always hard to come back from conceding in the opening seconds, with Elvis Kamsoba opening the scoring within 45 seconds.
Joey Katebian made it 2-0 for Avondale with a stunning goal in 29th minute, and it looked like it was going to be smooth sailing for the Avengers.
Luca Santilli’s goal for Pascoe Vale late in the opening period seemed as if it would be the catalyst for a good second half, but Pascoe Vale’s downfall was Santilli himself, as he saw red before half-time.
Pascoe Vale however still sit comfortably within the top six with just five rounds to go.
Oakleigh Cannons 1-1 Port Melbourne Sharks
Oakleigh and Port Melbourne are two teams that continue to fly under the radar – this was an important result for Oakleigh, who slightly extended the gap between themselves and the bottom few sides.
Wayne Wallace’s goal in the 46th minute was cancelled out later in the piece by Sam Smith’s second goal in two matches as the two teams shared the points.
Oakleigh will not want to dwell on their current form, with just one win from their last five putting them in the same category of teams such as South Melbourne and Hume City, who have been plagued by speculation of relegation for most of the season.
Port Melbourne could be one of this year’s surprise packets, as they hold their comfortable position in fifth place.
Bulleen Lions 1-4 Dandenong Thunder
It is getting closer to being official now; Bulleen Lions looked odds-on favourites for relegation at the end of the season.
They are seven points from direct safety, with their biggest chance being to claw their way up to 12th position.
This game was really one that they had to look at with optimism, especially with Dandenong’s lack of fire power in recent times.
But they were never really in the game, and the Thunder proved that they can be an attacking force without Brandon Barnes.
Goals from players that have needed to make more of an impact in recent weeks like Luke Gallo and Mohamed Feizi proved to be too much for a Bulleen side that looks better on paper than the team that is looking dead-straight at relegation.
A goal from Matt Groppo off the bench looks to show that the sky is the limit for the youngster, but for the team, it was merely a consolation.
The result saves Dandenong from any relegation threat and it was certainly an important one ahead of a tough end to the season.
Green Gully 0-1 Melbourne Knights
Green Gully could be the most out-of-form side towards the end of this season. Just one win from their last 11 league games has them in a position that they surely were not expecting to be in at the start of this season.
Their horrific run of form continued on Saturday night when they succumbed to Melbourne Knights, a team slowly that’s slowly climbing up the ladder.
Frustration seemed to be the theme of this game from a Gully perspective, which played into the hands of the Knights.
It was a penalty converted in the 18th minute from Milan Batur, his first goal for the club, which separated the two sides.
It’s hard to imagine Green Gully being relegated from here, but they are fifth from bottom and four points from the relegation playoff spot. They travel to Bentleigh this week, so things don’t seem to be getting easier for the Greens in the immediate future.
South Melbourne 2-1 Hume
A game punctuated by two penalties saw South Melbourne all-but escape their relegation scrap for 2018 – sighs of relief echoed around Lakeside Stadium as a Lujic slotted home a second half penalty.
Looking forwards, a top half finish is a genuine chance now, such is the tight nature of the league.
It is ridiculous how quickly things change; with South Melbourne able to move up to 7th if they win their game in hand against Heidelberg; they were in the bottom two not long ago.
Hume will feel unlucky to not have gotten anything from this game after taking the lead through a penalty of their own.
They are now just one point out of the relegation zone; they simply cannot escape the scrap for survival despite their recent upturn in form, with a must win home clash with Dandenong Thunder on the way this weekend.
Based on current form, it’s not hard to imagine that they would be the team in the relegation playoff spot come the end of the season.
Our very own Bilal Ali was behind the microphone for this game.
EXTENDED HIGHLIGHTS | You've read the report and you've heard from the manager, but now you can catch all the best moments from last night's match against South Melbourne FC.Commentary from Bilal Ali.Watch in HD
Posted by Hume City F.C. on Monday, 23 July 2018
Heidelberg United 3-0 Bentleigh Greens
This could possibly be the the game that sealed top spot for the Bergers.
It was a mouth-watering clash to say the least, as it saw the best two sides this season come up against each-other.
It was Heidelberg who took the ascendency early with a 3rd minute goal from Tom Cahill; his eleventh of the season, getting United off to the best possible start.
The form of Harry Noon must be noted, as he scored two goals in the second half to seal the victory; that’s five in three games for the in-form attacker.
He could not have dreamt of hitting this patch of form in a period of the season that is so crucial, yet it is the 25-year-old who is leading from the very front, as he helped heavily dampen any chance Bentleigh had of catching United.
The Bergers are now five points ahead with a game in hand against South Melbourne, and the two-horse race for first seems to be run and won.
The Greens may also need to start looking over their shoulder as Avondale quietly give chase in third.
Kingston City 2-0 Northcote City
It was a relegation six-pointer on a Monday night, with both sides going into the clash knowing just how crucial the three points were.
Kingston are going the right away about staying up this season, and it is their home form that may earn them another season in this league. The 2-0 win puts three points between their opponents Northcote, who are now extremely up against it.
In saying that, with how we’ve seen the equation of the league change in just two week, Northcote could be out of the zone by Round 23.
This week, Northcote host Avondale and Kingston travel to Sunshine to play Melbourne Knights. I’m sure Northcote will be watching that game with a keen eye.
It is as simple as this, one of these teams will be relegated.