Foot of the table heats up with ‘new’ team
FC Essendon v FC Melbourne (4-9)
The opening game of round 10 of the NIKE V-League saw relegation rivals FC Essendon in 9th do battle with FC Melbourne in 10th. It was always going to be a hotly contested game as both sides sensed an opportunity to creep closer away from the dreaded automatic relegation spot. The inclusions for the reds consisted of utility Boza Lojanica and 2009 premiership winning keeper Batko Kalaba – playing his first game with Essendon since the 09-10 season. As for Melbourne, they were to be without their general in defence, Mus Eloor, but re-called Phil Robotis as cover. Often labelled a side which play negative football (lowest total of goals scored – 29) and tend to “park the bus”, it seemed that Melbourne had thrown their defensive style out the window as they raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening 5 minutes! They were well worked goals as too, with a double from midfield maestro Fabiano De Britto and a cheeky back-heel from Phil Robotis set the tone for the half. Player-Manager, Chris Gospel, who in his second game back from injury led by example for his side as he wanted his boys to keep attacking by adding a 4th and his first for the season. But Essendon were never going to lay down, as their experience and determination got them back in the game with goals from defenders Lubomir Erakovic and Boza Lojanica making the score a bit more respectable at 4-2. Then all of Essendon’s hard-work became undone as stand-in-captain, Elias Stavridis drove the ball into the top corner and David Fletcher completed the scoring with a fine finish under Kalaba’s legs – a return to the V-League Kalaba would love to forget! The second half saw an Essendon revival as they constantly tested Melbourne keeper Harry Kitharidis. It was only a matter of time until the reds achieved their breakthrough, and they got it, through a quickly taken Alex Stevanovic free-kick – followed by a second by Alex to make it 6-4. But from this point, the game was to take a massive turn as two red cards were awarded to Ivan Pajic and Stevanovic to severely deplete their already ailing squad. With the reds completely shaken, Melbourne were able to add another two goals from De Britto who claimed a hat-trick and tireless worker Mael Guilliou. With arguably the dark blues best performance of the season – their highest goal tally of 9 – Melbourne have shown that they are capable of just sitting back and if results go their way, they could be playing cup futsal by seasons end. The future isn’t as bright for Essendon, who are continually on the slide. Serious changes need to be put in motion, and sooner rather that later.
Albert Park FC v Fitzroy FC (8-9)
The second game of the night dished up a massive curve ball for both the spectators and for Fitzroy as Albert Park had changed management during the week and thus a completely new look side took to the pitch – not one of former manager Jason Ioanidis’ side were included. The new manager appointed was former Pascoe Vale hard-man Alex Areggin who brought along former league players in keeper Marcus Cobbledick, defender Chris Vithoulkas, utilities Anthony Hammer and Marko Nastic, along with debutants Joe Clarke and Same Wade. Deciding to throw a curve-ball of his own, Fitzroy manager Hamid Hassanikhoo re-called keeper Steve Cace and placed regular keeper Dianoosh Rasoulzadeh on the bench, not to play in goals… but on the pitch! When the first half began, Albert Park really took it to the 3rd ranked Fitzroy as both sides went goal for goal. New manager, Alex Areggin led by example as he scored the first two goals for ‘the oranges’ but the deficit was later reduced as Haider Noor hit a fine finish, followed by a Cameron Holmes double to make it 3-2. NIKE V-League first gamer, Joe Clarke, seemed right at home in as he composed himself to slot past Cace to level the game. But that lead was short lived as Fitzroy striker, Noor, bagged his second to make it 4-3 at half time. The new Albert Park boys had put in quite an impressive performance in the first half, and their form continued into the second as Areggin earned a hat-trick. But after Areggin’s goal, it seemed to flick Fitzroy’s switch as the piled on four goals in a row with Hamid and Holmes bagging two each and Holmes booting his fourth for the game. It seemed there would be no way back from 8-5 down for the newly constructed Albert Park side, but when defender Chris Vithoulkas added a further 3 goals it made for a very nervy ending for Fitzroy, but captain Hamid steadied the ship and sealed the 9-8 win and secured their 3rd spot on the ladder. It was a gallant performance from Albert Park who have the basis for a very good side, it will be interesting what manager, Alex Areggin chooses to do with his players. As for Fitzroy, they should consider themselves lucky as they certainly did “get out of jail”. Hopefully Dianoosh –one of the most talented keepers in the country- will be in between the sticks next week where he belongs and not waste his talent on the pitch.
Metropolitan FC v Pascoe Vale FC (4-11)
The Metro vs Pascoe Vale clash is normally a game that would usually have spectators frothing at the mouth, but of recent weeks, Metropolitan have not been performing at the standard that we have been used to in past seasons as they are now placed in 5th position. Their chances of over-coming 2nd on the ladder Pascoe Vale were hindered as they took to the pitch with the bare minimum of players (5) including a fill-in keeper in Evan Robotis. On the other hand, Pascoe Vale regained keeper Greg Lascaris from injury to share keeping duties with Jamie Tran and former Ashburton defender, Rodrigo Evangelista made his debut for last seasons champs. Defender Ahmed Azzam was the first to get on the score-sheet for Pascoe Vale as he ran onto Joao Da Silva’s pass on the edge of the “D” to easily slot past Robotis. Da Silva then scored a goal of his own by shooting from long-range, sneaking the ball just inside Robotis’ left post. Then just as the black and whites thought they were going to have everything their own way, Metro defender Tomo Grgic got forward to put away a much needed goal and close the gap to 2-1. But soon enough Grgic’s goal would seem fairly insignificant as Pascoe Vale would pile on the next four goals. Rodrigo in his debut game side footed a long range effort past Robotis, who to be fair was distracted by an advancing run from Azzam. The next two goals were scored by Azzam himself as he completed a rare first-half hat-trick. Pascoe Vale captain, Andre Caro, then wrapped up the half by running of his marker (Irzad Spijodic) and thumped home a side ball from Joao Da Silva leaving it 6-1 at the break. By this point the Metro boys seemed mentally and physically drained by the opening of the second half, and there was little wonder from the boys in sky blue when Pascoe Vale’s dominance over their once fierce rivals continued. Joao Da Silva claimed his 7th brace of the season as he linked with Caro to then find himself rolling the ball into an unguarded net. Ahmed Azzam signed off an amazing night by scoring his 4th and 5th goals of the night in a man-of-the-match performance. Amongst the mass of Pascoe Vale goals, the Metro boys did have opportunities to score, but were unable to take their chances. Sometimes half chances at best. Caro on the other end of the spectrum was taking (and making) his chances as he finished the night with a hat-trick of his own. It took all of almost half an hour for Metro to score their next goal, and it was a Jusuf Avdic thumper that did the job. With the game all but over, Irzad Spijodic (along with some lacklustre defending) was also able to add 2 goals to the tally making it 11-4. It was a win that the current champs desperately needed and it was good to finally see them enjoying their futsal again. Especially before the big game against North next week. Metro on the other hand will need to regroup quickly before they loose touch with the top four, as they are probably out of title contention! On tonights performance anyway….
CF Brunswick v FC Prahran (4-7)
The next game at 8:45 saw two of the most ambitious teams in the NIKE V-League in 4th placed Brunswick take on Prahran in 6th. There were no new inclusions to come in for either side, although there were BIG exclusions as Danny Ngaluafe was out for Brunswick, and last week’s 9 goal hero Marcus Barbosa was unavailable for Prahran. Two players that would have surely added plenty more fire-works to this fixture. Just as he did last week against Essendon, Brunswick defender Ignat Filipovic opened the scoring with a deft shot past keeper Michael Chami from a set-piece. It was then a case of goal-for-goal as Ernie Simsek levelled for Prahran, then cancelled out by a Mike Sharples top corner stunner, a strike which was worthy of goal of the week. Minutes later, magical Maxi Avram brought the match back to level terms when he dispossessed Sharples, danced around Filipovic and slotted past an advancing Brendan Chen. With the game in the balance, well known for his strong perfrmances on the big stage, Ernie Simsek got the advantage for his side when he combined with defender Adam Husseini to easily pass their way through the Brunswick defence to make it 3-2 at half time. After the break, the ‘Magical One’ – Maxi Avram – had his shooting boots on yet again as he scored 2 to complete his hat-trick and to give his side the upper hand. Ernie Simsek again bobbed up, also for his third major of the game to extend Prahran’s lead and increase the likelihood of claiming all three points, but Brunswick were never going to go down without a fight as Mike Sharples bagged his second when he latched onto a well-weighted through ball from defender Damir Marusic and then controlled the ball well to chip over the top of Chami. With time running out, Brunswick needed to desperately score the next goal, but tricky Prahran midfielder, Ahmed Muktar, made sure that a comeback never eventuated as the Egyptian blasted a toe-poke into the roof of Chen’s net. With three minutes left, and with a 4-goal deficit, striker and club top scorer Munya Nyadzayo could only manage a consolation goal as he pounced on a poor Chami clearance to slot into an open net to finalise the scoring at 4-7. It was a great win for Prahran who were able to overcome quality opposition, as they have struggled with getting wins over top-four in recent weeks – and all without the services of Barbosa. Brunswick on the other hand missed the defensive nous of Ngaluafe, whose experience and composure would’ve been welcomed by manager Niko Ignatiadis. Hopefully the reds can call on their Futsalroo representative for next week’s clash against Fitzroy, as the try to make 4th spot their own.
Ashburton FC v FC Balwyn (8-3)
The second last clash of the round 10 card saw Ashburton in 7th go head to head with a determined and disciplined Balwyn in 12th. It was a scenario that Ashburton have not been familiar with of recent weeks, and that scenario I speak of is having a full list of 8 players, a feat that they haven’t enjoyed since round 3 as Mark Burton, former Ashburton defender Manny Karas and debut keeper Damian Pappas were all included to the squad. Balwyn, who are coming off one of the performances of the season – a 6-5 loss to North – had regained regular keeper Mario Roza but were unable to call on forward Simon Menichelli. When play got underway, Ashburton made their intentions clear from the outset as regular forward pairing in Simon La Manda and James Blackburn combined for the opening goal as Blackburn’s spot on pass was faultless as it found La Manda who then turned the ball into the net. Blackburn was at it again only moments later as he then set-up Mark Burton to make it 2-0. Then just as Ashburton were settling in the game, Balwyn bit back through a wonderful long-range effort from young Balwyn defender Mark Saric. His first goal was very important as it was yet again game on, that was only until Mark Burton marked his return with a classy 1-2 style goal with Dima Nichiforenco to complete the first half. Ashburton’s manager, Paul Vidic, must have spoken words of wisdom at the half-time interval, as Ashburton came out and scored 4 unanswered goals. The first came from defender Manny Karas who showed that he was capable of finishing to go along with his strong defensive capabilities. La Manda then claimed his second and stretched the “green machine’s” lead to 5-1. You could really see the confidence growing in this new-look side, it was as if they had been together since round 1. Mark Burton seemed to thrive off the feeling of being with quality players as he was able to score one of the greatest goals the V-League has seen when he perfectly chipped Mario Roza. The whole stadium erupted in awe of the former New Zealand international and Werder Bremen man. Burton was still not finished yet, as he inflicted yet more pain on Roza by scoring his fourth. Trying to add a bit more respectability for his side on the scoreboard, defender Tony Saric joined his brother Mark on the scoresheet by blasting through Pappas from an amazing angle to make it 7-2. James Blackburn, after becoming provider for many of his team-mates goals claimed one for himself as he ran off his mark to easily put his sides 8th goal into the net. Then in the final minute of play, Balwyn captain Tony Imeri scored from a Ben Bodo corner to end the game at 8-3. It was a performance that Balwyn would rather forget as they have been known to be hard to overcome, but Ashburton -now with key defender Manny Karas- look like a formidable side with the likes of Blackburn, Burton and La Manda combining. Is there better things to come from Ashburton in the future?
North Melbourne FC v Hume FC (10-3)
The final game of the night saw top ranked North Melbourne pitted against 8th placed Hume. Stand-in manager, Spiro Kargas, was fortunate to have an un-changed and full-strength line-up, whereas his opposing manager, Amin Keddad was not so fortunate as he was without his entire starting side of Moe Tankir, Turhan Sumbol, Nejdet Sahin and Resit Culculoglu. Although forward pair Burukhan Koca and Adrian Fuscalzo returned. It was no wonder that the first half was a tight and defensive affair as depleted Hume battled to keep out the free-scoring dark blues, and as had as they tried to keep them at bay, it was only a matter of time until the back of the net was hit. In form play-maker, Tiago Priori fed Jonathan Barrientos for an easy tap-in to open the scoring, which was then followed by an unlucky Alex Husseini own goal and a typical Adam Cooper thumper to make it 3-0. One would have thought that Hume would have dropped their heads by this point, but manager Amin kept encouraging and had faith in his players. Amin’s faith was then repaid as new-look strike partnership of Koca and Fruscalzo made it 3-2. Hume could then sense they were back in the game and their confidence grew as they tried to see out the rest of the half without conceding. That was until Japanese import, Hara Yoshinao, in his second game gave his side some breathing space before the break with a quality goal as he danced around Koca and shot past a dazed Con Makris. Yoshinao then completed his brace in the second half as he opened the scoring with a slick move from a corner, as the Japanese dynamo seems to be slotting in just fine in his new team! Fruscalzo also bagged his second goal of the game as his weak and deflected shot trickled through Christos Apostolakis’s legs. Then killing off any chance Hume had of a comeback, North scored 5 un-answered goals. Cooper got his second by latching onto a Yoshinao long-ball, then Priori put his mark on the game by assisting Colby Waterfield and then scoring 2 himself. He really is fast becoming one of the most highly regarded midfielders in the league. With the result already dead and buried, Alex Jankovic finalised the scoring at 10-3 as he turned in Barrientos’ shot-cum-cross, albeit off his knee! With impressive performances from Alex Husseini and Diego Assaeda, this was not what Hume are capable of. With their regular side it would have been a closer contest. North Melbourne have been the team to beat to date, but they real test is next week when they lock horns with Pascoe Vale for the V-League ‘el-clasico’! A game not to be missed!
V-League 2011 Top Goal Scorers
- J. Blackburn AFC – 23
- M. Nyadzayo CFB – 21
- C. Holmes FFC – 21
- M. Avram FCP – 20
- A. Stevanovic FCE – 19
Round 10 Wednesday July 6
- 6:30 FC Essendon v FC Melbourne 4 – 9
- 7:15 Albert Park FC v Fitzroy FC 8 – 9
- 8:00 Metropolitan FC v Pascoe Vale FC 4 – 11
- 8:45 CF Brunswick v FC Prahran 4 – 7
- 9:30 Ashburton FC v FC Balwyn 8 – 3
- 10:15 Nth Melbourne FCv Hume FC 10 – 3
Round 11 Wednesday July 13
- 6:30 FC Melbourne v FC Prahran
- 7:15 FC Essendon v FC Balwyn
- 8:00 Nth Melbourne FC v Pascoe Vale FC
- 8:45 Ashburton FC v Hume FC
- 9:30 CF Brunswick v Fitzroy FC
- 10:15 Albert Park FCv Metropolitan FC
Go to futsaloz.tv to see video highlights of all the matches.