Image: South Melbourne
Bulleen secured safety last night after a 1-1 draw with St Albans Saints at home, ensuring 12th placed Melbourne Knights mathematically can’t catch them. Meanwhile, all of the top four won on Saturday and Sunday in testing weather conditions, with South Melbourne still emerging top of the table, equal on points with Heidelberg and Bentleigh, while Green Gully sit in fourth. The biggest sliders this round were one-time league leaders Avondale, leapfrogged by Oakleigh in the top six.
Bulleen’s point against St Albans ensured their 2018 top-flight participation, meaning they sit 10 points above 12th-placed Melbourne Knights with three games remaining.
Jordan Templin had the hosts the lead with a pearler of an effort, picking up Lewis Hawke’s pass and hitting a shot with backspin and swirl which left
Rodrigo Covarrubias equallised with an eye-catching effort of his own, latching onto Joey Monek’s long ball before chipping Wyatt Chant.
It was no surprise both goals were scored with spectacular efforts, as that’s what was required to beat both custodians who had top performances between the sticks.
South Melbourne saw off Hume City 2-1 at ABD Stadium to keep their tenuous grip on top while further hampering the latter’s push for a finals place.
South took the lead early as Nick Epifano won a penalty, with Milos Lujic netting from the spot – the first of his two goals.
He had two for the half when individual errors cost Hume dearly as a backwards header wasn’t cleared, allowing Lujic a one-one-one, which proved easy pickings for the marksman.
But South were also prone to a lapse in the back third, as a stray pass playing out the back by picked off by Jayden Prasad, who advanced in on goal and tuck it past Nikola Roganovic.
Despite that goal giving the hosts a sniff at a comeback, it wasn’t forthcoming as the visitors held on against the wind for a priceless three points to keep the chasing pack at bay for another week.
The returning Andrew Cartanos was the hero for Heidelberg as the young forward propelled his side to a hard-fought 1-0 win over the in-form Pascoe Vale.
Despite coming off an unlucky 1-0 defeat at Hume City last week, and facing a Paco outfit enjoying strong recent results in their push for finals action, Heidelberg held on early as a wandering Chris Theodoridis left Steven Pace to clear Luka Prelevic’s shot off the line.
The hosts came the closest after half an hour as Michael Trigger won a free-kick on the edge of the area – up stepped Reuben Way, whose thunderous strike cannoned off the woodwork.
The winning goal came after the break as the heavens opened. Having missed a chance just moments earlier, Cartanos made amends minutes later by forcing the ball over the line from a corner despite plenty of congestion in the box.
It leaves Heidelberg equal top with South albeit one behind on goal difference for another week.
Bentleigh continued Avondale’s slide down the ladder by defeating the Avengers 3-1 at Somers Street.
After enjoying the better opportunities in the first half, the visitors burst out of the blocks in the second via Matt Thurtell, who took advantage of some lax defending to head himself in on goal before finish past Chris Oldfield.
It became 2-0 when Andy Brennan found Dimi Hatzimouratis in the box; despite being denied first time by Oldfield, his second attempt found the back of the net.
Evan Christodoulou bundled home what proved to be a consolation strike late as just before the final whistle Tyson Holmes released Brennan who finished with aplomb to seal the 3-1 scoreline.
Green Gully had it relatively easy compared to the others, securing a big 5-1 victory over bottom-placed North Geelong Warriors.
Doubles to Wade Dekker in the first half and Matt Breeze in the second half sandwiched a Bobby Vidanoski strike, while Nick Krousoratis capped off a bright attacking showing with a goal of his own late in the contest.