Image: Mark Avellino
Altona Magic and Langwarrin both took massive steps towards promotion while the likes of Geelong, Caulfield Cobras and Banyule City kept up the chase with big victories themselves. Elsewhere, the John Markovski resurgence at Sydenham Park continued while new signings helped both Mornington and Malvern City earn much needed three points.
Billed as the clash between the league heavyweights, Saturday afternoon’s battle at Larissa Reserve proved to be anything but that as top-of-the-table Altona Magic swept past the North Sunshine Eagles to record a comprehensive 6-0 victory. A first-half goal to Jon McShane was followed up by second-half goals to Melvin Becket and Adamson Ajayi, before substitutes Klim Dimitrieski, Nikola Markovski and Jason Hayne grabbed a goal each to secure a famous triumph on enemy soil which all but extinguished the home side’s promotion hopes.
Second-placed Geelong are eight points behind with a game in hand and secured a convincing 3-0 win over Yarraville at Stead Park thanks to goals from Harry Hillary-Jenkins, Daniel Kuczynski and Joshua Talev.
Banyule City were the week’s other big winners as they overtook North Sunshine into third following a 4-0 destruction of Preston Lions at Yallambie Park. A Troy Pennycooke-Morgan hat-trick and a further strike from Massamba Dione did the damage in a result which has ended any slim chances the Lions might have had of mounting a late promotion charge up the table.
Three goals inside the opening 15 minutes from Stevce Dimcevski, Zoran Petrevski and Matt Sesay saw John Markovski’s Sydenham Park side secure a 3-0 win over the Essendon Royals at Ormond Park.
Deang Aguek’s eighth goal of the campaign cancelled out Velibor Pavlovic’s opener as near neighbours Western Suburbs and Westgate shared the points at Ralph Reserve, with the visitors debuting new signing Ante Kozul in the starting XI after his recent move from Hoppers Crossing. Furthermore, former Werribee coach Tony Trifunov is the new Westgate gaffer, replacing interim player-coach Gino Defeo.
The weekend’s feel-good story occurred at Paisley Park, where new manager Alan Davidson helped Altona East Phoenix move off the bottom of the ladder thanks to a 2-1 triumph over Keilor Park. Phoenix forward Anthony Giannopoulos scored and assisted Julien Cassano as the former Socceroo made an immediate impact in the dugout. The visitors scored a consolation through Supreet Sangha.
In the South-East, league leaders Langwarrin bounced back from last week’s shock defeat to last-placed Mooroolbark by edging out a John Kuol-inspired Morwell Pegasus 4-3 at Ronald Reserve. Gus MacLeod’s men went into the break with a 3-0 lead thanks to strikes from Caleb Nicholes, Connor Belger and veteran Boris Ovcin, before the aforementioned Nicholes grabbed his second early in the second half. However, a 13-minute hat-trick from Kuol sparked a Pegasus revival which was ultimately extinguished by the referee’s full-time whistle as results elsewhere pushed the hosts back into the relegation zone despite their improved performances of late.
At Victory Park, Caulfield United Cobras secured a 3-1 triumph over Manningham United to stay within reach of Langwarrin, six points behind in second place. Goals to Benjamin Woischuk, Thomas Rankin and Joe Summerbell steered the Cobras to victory, with the Blues finding themselves on the scoreboard through recent arrival Rudi Saglam, who netted his maiden goal for the club.
Over at Elwood Park, a brace from another new arrival in Sam Orritt and a Wayne Gordon opener helped Mornington put their recent form slump behind them to beat St Kilda 3-0 and move back into third place.
A Michael Catalano goal five minutes from time was enough for Clifton Hill to earn all three points over Warragul United in a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Quarries Park.
Substitute Liam Seaye netted three minutes from time to ensure Mooroolbark earned a share of the spoils in their 1-1 draw away to South Springvale, with Michael Kariuki putting himself on the scoresheet for Aris.
Finally, a pair of former Kingston City players guided Malvern City to a 2-0 home win over the Casey Comets in a result which allowed the Kooyong-based outfit to claw their way out of the relegation zone at the expense of Morwell. New signing Slaven Vranesevic opened the scoring in the first half before substitute Arthur Papadopoulos put the icing on the cake late on.
In the race for the Golden Boot, reigning holder Diellon Memishi continues to lead the charge in the North-West with 11 goals, while Bulls striker Troy Pennycooke-Morgan moves into second, his hat-trick taking him up to 10 goals for the term. Altona Magic’s Adamson Ajayi and Yarraville Glory forward Keith Burch have nine while Deang Aguek, Joel Nikolic and Robert Stambolziev are on eight.
Down in the South-East, Ryan Paczkowski leads the way on 11, while Langy’s English marksman Connor Belger and Cobras target man Cort Kibler-Melby are in joint second on nine goals for the campaign. Barkers striker Sam Klepac has seven goals while a host of players have six.