Image: Natasha Morello
Both Dockerty Cup finalists weren’t hindered by their 120-minute midweek encounter as Bentleigh bounced back to beat Bulleen 2-0, while Heidelberg once again broke away from South Melbourne at the top of the table with a narrow 1-0 win over the Melbourne Knights. The latter’s defeat wasn’t compounded by Kingston after they were defeated by St Albans Saints, who move off the bottom of the ladder.
Bentleigh moved to 39 points alongside South Melbourne by prevailing over the lacklustre Lions 2-0.
The visitors were using their third keeper in as many weeks, with James Burgess making a senior appearance after breakout Dockerty Cup star Jordan Gifkins was sidelined and incumbent first choice Ryan Scott was still suspended.
But Bulleen struggled to find a way to test the youngster as Bentleigh struck at the other end.
Kieran Dover’s cutback from Andy Brennan was tapped in by Trent Clulow for the first-half opener.
Clulow had a second in his sights before the break as Luke Pilkington’s low cross found him at the back post, but the strike into a near-open net found the woodwork.
Bentleigh weren’t made to pay for it as sloppy play around the back allowed Dimi Hatzimouratis to squeeze home the side’s second and sealing goal, ensuring they remain firmly rooted in the top four and still within touching distance of top spot.
Heidelberg were backing up their drought-breaking Dockerty Cup triumph and had to be wary of the threat posed by the Knights, but in a contest that summed up both clubs’ season to date, nothing went right for the Knights while Heidelberg turned over another three points at home.
The visitors ended up hitting the woodwork thrice, the first coming when Tom Cahill pounced in the box. His first effort was thwarted by Chris Theodoridis before the follow up bounced off the crossbar.
In a contest that saw chances hard to come by, it was perhaps fitting that the winning goal did come via a penalty when a bouncing ball in the box deep into first-half stoppage time struck the arm of the unknowing Ben Surey, with Kenny Athiu stepping up to bury the penalty.
The striker almost had another to his name but for the work of Fraser Chalmers who tipped his header over the bar.
Indeed the Knights were to strike the woodwork twice more in the second half as Luke Jurcic’s snapshot from distance came centimetres away from lodging into the back of the net, while a cross from Shaun Timmins also came agonisingly close to bundling into the back of the net after Danny Dixon and Theodoridis both contested for the ball.
In the end the Bergers held on to restore their three-point lead at the top of the ladder.
The Knights’ loss wasn’t Kingston’s gain as St Albans held firm at home to prevail 2-0 at Churchill Reserve.
In the type of performance that had eluded Dinamo most of the season, they frustrated the visitors to celebrate captain Ryan McGuffie’s 100th game in style.
After Nikola Kostadinoski denied Velibor Mitrovic from giving his side the lead earlier in the half, Rodrigo Covarrubias was released in on goal and made no mistake with the finish past an onrushing Kile Kennedy.
Michael Grgic added to that lead with a header from a set piece to ensure Dinamo notched up the 2-0 win, in the process denying Kingston from extending their four-point lead over 12th placed Knights and edging closer to safety.