Three Saturday fixtures saw three sides claim three vital points at their respective ladder positions. Hume City’s win over Kingston strengthened their top-six credentials, allowing Port to leapfrog the latter into 10th place and making more distance over the 12th placed Knights with their late victory over North Geelong, while Green Gully finally ended a run of draws by taking a number of their opportunities to convincingly defeat Avondale 3-0 and keep in touch with the league leaders.
At ABD Stadium, both Hume and Kingston were exchanging opportunities early as Nick Hegarty was denied by Kile Kennedy and Liam Boland had a goal ruled out for a Hume handball in the build-up, while at the other end Michael Weier denied the likes of Chris Irwin and Sami Nour with important saves.
Hume eventually dealt Kingston the first blow in the 39th minute when Boland played in Atilla Ofli who finally made no mistake with the finish, giving the hosts the 1-0 lead as the break approached.
But that strike looked to be the straw that broke the camel’s back as a second deflating goal was added just before the whistle, as Hegarty also polished off another chance afforded to him.
It was all spiralling out of control for the visitors after the break when Erhan Yalaz was shown two yellow cards in quick succession for two challenges on Jayden Prasad, reducing the side to 10 men.
Boland rubbed salt into the wound with Hume’s third goal, while Weier didn’t let anything that come his way pass him into the back of the net, sealing a near-ideal performance for Ufuk Kubilayhan’s side.
Gully from the outset regularly managed to find a way in behind Avondale’s defence early, but for a long time were frustrated by Evan Markogiannis’s efforts in goal, who was stepping in for the absent Chris Oldfield (while Gully also had regular keeper Rani Dowisha out as ex-Victory man Lucas Spinella took his place).
Jay Davies found Dylan Smith twice, who was thwarted. Jeremy Walker also found Nick Krousoratis who was denied at the back post.
Josh Brindell-South finally had the ball in the back of the net from Krousoratis’ ball across the face but the linesman’s flag was up.
It looked like all those missed efforts were going to be punished as has been the case in recent weeks when Jeff Fleming had Germano through who took a tumble when in on goal, with the referee deeming Daniel Jones’ challenge a penalty. But to the relief of debutant keeper Lucas Spinella, who guessed the wrong way, Germano hit the left upright.
Gully finally had their goal in the second half and once more Avondale’s defence was sliced open as Krousoratis picked up a pass from Smith and a ball through the middle found Wade Dekker, who slipped the finish past Markogiannis. The deadlock was broken and the floodgates opened.
The second goal was a piece of class as Jonathan Bounas’ good work in midfield ended with him releasing Krousoratis via a long ball, which the latter finished via a delightful first-time chip.
The sealer came when the referee deemed Nick Symeoy’s challenge to end in a backpass after Markogiannis picked it up, with Jay Davies’ clever effort from a congested indirect free kick in the box finding the back of the net and three points for Gully.
The Warriors looked positive against Port Melbourne as Andrew Doig had an early shot in anger, while Matt Thorne had a header saved. Thorne had another opportunity from Nick Jurcic’s cross that missed as the visitors couldn’t capitalise on their early momentum.
The hosts then found some rhythm of their own as Oleksiy Khrapko called Marko Stevanja into action for the first time.
The Warriors custodian then bailed his side out when Francesco Stella and Andreas Govas got involved, pulling off a a string of saves to keep the deadlock intact as the half time break approached.
Once again the Sharks looked to bite as Stella’s free-kick was tipped onto the woodwork by Stevanja.
But he was finally beaten on the hour mark as Anthony Colosimo netted his first for the club, with some controversy in the build-up and he went past a prone defender from a previous passage of play.
The goal stood but the Warriors weren’t done yet and almost hit back when Matthew Townley struck the bar from Thorne’s delivery.
His efforts were finally rewarded as another Thorne free kick was eventually turned in by Townley after a scramble in the 84th minute.
From there the Warriors had a few sniffs to go in front but it were the Sharks who broke North’s heart, and it was Andreas Govas with a trademark spectacular effort to send the hosts into raptures.
That all but ends North Geelong’s survival hopes but it’s a crucial three points for Port to avoid 12th spot, adding some breathing space between them and the Knights while dragging Kingston back into the survival scrap.