Ashburton FC v Albert Park FC (2-4)
The opening clash on the round 18 card dished up a bottom of the table clash as 9th placed Ashburton took on Albert Park in last position. Coming back into the Ashburton line up was steely defender Manny Karas and along with him was debutant John Petridis. Albert Park, almost for the first time in a long time fielded a full strength squad with a list of seven players. Coming into the side was bean-pole striker, Mili Muratbegovic and former Balwyn player – in the State League – Matt Italiano. The first half opened up with Ashburton’s Talisman, James Blackburn who was on hand to put away a poor clearance from Albert Park keeper, Kurt Fanourakis. Blackburn’s partner in crime – Dima Nichiforenco – went close to doubling their lead, only to be denied by the left post. Then in a surprising turn of events, Albert Park took the lead through Felipe Rilling and Mili Muratbegovic who showed what they were capable of with brilliant individual efforts. Albert Park’s good fortune continued into the second half, as second gamer, Nathan Long’s shot took a wicked deflection off Moe Alghorabi and caught Ashburton keeper, Jamie Tran, completely off guard. Manny Karas, almost through pure frustration, barraged toward the Albert Park goal and blasted through Fanourakis’ legs making it 3-2 mid way through the half. But from that point on that was as good as it got for Ashburton who are in a real mess at the moment. Nathan Long was again in the thick of the action as he struck the foot of the post and Rilling, who was set up for an open goal by Rodrigo, struck the crossbar. But to clinch the points, Rodrigo completed a quick 1-2 with Matt Italiano to make it 4-2 and earn only their second win for the season. It just keeps getting worse for Ashburton who have not had a win for seven consecutive games, while Albert Park have found some rare form ahead of their ‘winnable’ game against Essendon next week.
FC Prahran v Fitzroy FC (5-6)
The next game that the healthy crowd were treated with was between 4th placed Fitzroy and 5th placed Prahran. Fitzroy, after their narrow 7-5 win over Essendon last week welcomed back utility, Jack Dalla Via back into the line-up, while Prahran’s regular keeper from last season, Dima Shakhanov returned in between the sticks after months on the sideline. Michael Chami, this seasons regular keeper was left to man the pine as back up. Fitzroy were the more fired up of the two teams as they raced to a 3-0 lead, exposing the cobwebs that were still seemingly covering Shakhanov’s gloves. But it was Prahran’s mercurial striker, Maxi Avram who got his side back into the game with two quick goals by outsmarting his younger opponents and getting into some good positions. Jack Dalla Via, on his return to V-League action netted the last goal of the half by combining with Johnny Nikolakoudis for a quick 1-2 and then coolly slotted past Shakhanov and made it 4-2 before half time. Avram scored his third of the game at the opening of the second half with a swift run from defence and slotting from a ridiculous angle past Steve Cuce to give Prahran a fighting chance at 4-3. Then with a huge slice of fortune, Johnny Nikolakoudis was simply in the right place at the right time as he rebounded in Lucas Johns’ long-range strike, reinstating Fitzroy’s two goal buffer. Prahran finally, after peppering the goal of Steve Cuce, clawed their way back into the contest levelling at 5-5 with Avram’s fourth of the game and Cameron Holmes’ first who slotted away from close range. As the minutes ticked away, both sides pressed for a winner and in the end it was Fitzroy captain Shayan Rashidi who found the back of the net as he ran past Holmes and shot underneath Shakhanov’s arm. It was a well earned win for the roys who continue to get the job done week in week out, whereas Prahran look very short on quality (from the bench) in the closing rounds of the season. The red carding of Marcus Barbosa certainly didn’t help their cause this week and Shakhanov will only get better with time. There is hope for the battle hardened shot stopper.
CF Brunswick v North Melbourne FC (2-4)
The glamour clash of the round was, on paper, the encounter between top side North Melbourne and third placed Brunswick. This was almost the biggest game yet for North as they faced their last ‘major’ hurdle in their quest for league glory. If they could defeat Brunswick, without dropping a point, then it would be highly likely that the 2011 title would be draped in dark blue and black come seasons end. For the big game, North had no omissions from last week but added striker Alex Jankovic. Brunswick, who were looking for a big showing after last week’s draw with Hume added their star player, playmaker and Futsalroo in Danny Ngaluafe. Brunswick started on the back foot as North called keeper Brendan Chen into action very early on. Chen was lucky to keep a clean sheet as Fernando De Moraes hit the right post, but you can only keep Australia’s best player goal-less for so long, as moments later he gave North the lead with a wicked strike over Chen’s head. Dark Blues target man, Mirza Pedic, soon doubled his sides lead as he saw Chen off his line in no-man’s land and struck past him with ease. In a moment of managerial genius, Brunswick manager, Nikos Ignatiadis put on his star forward, Munya Nyadzayo just minutes before half time to have almost an immediate impact as he struck past keeper, Christos Apostolakis from a tight angle to send his bench and the crowd into raptures. There was a great sense of belief within the Brunswick camp going into the second half, and they almost capitalised on their window of opportunity as Munya struck the left post, which North failed to clear properly, resulting in the ball then falling to the feet of Damir Marusic whose strike rattled the other post and rolled safely into the arms of Christos – breathing a little sigh of relief. Then, in an act of pure desperation, reds captain, Mathieu Piga threw himself at a loose ball that was rolling out of play to land perfectly at the feet of Munya who was able to slot into an open net and level the game at 2-2. It was a great piece of leadership by the hardened captain. But the equalising goal seemed to really put North into another gear – or put Fernando into another gear – as their most valuable player, Fernando gave them back the lead with a strike into the top corner and then set up Pedic in the “D” to seal the three points and even possibly the 2011 title? It was a brave performance by Brunswick who fought for the entire duration of the game, but in the end the quality of North was too overwhelming for the leagues third ranked side.
FC Essendon v Metropolitan FC (1-10)
The game that was to follow the top four blockbuster was the 6th placed side in Metropolitan and Essendon in 7th. Essendon regained regular keeper in Anthony Cianflone, while Metropolitan had no new inclusions, yet lost striker Ivan Zilic due to work commitments. The first half began with Essendon’s Lubomir Erakovic missing an open goal as he blasted over the bar from close range, he was to be left ruing his golden opportunity as Metro then went 2-0 up in a matter of minutes through Jusuf Avdic and Tomo Grgic. Robert Shekari’s long range strike which hit the outside of the left post from distance almost pegged a goal back, but again it was Metro who had the finishing touch as Avdic bagged his second with an absolute thumper from the right side line and Dino Redzepovic’s back post tap in made it 4-0. The sky Blues were completely dominating their opponents as Grgic and Dino were both denied by the crossbar late in the half. The only other real action Metro keeper, Yane Coceski had to do was a quick scramble to his goal line for a last ditch save of Hooman Shekari’s strike – which he got to quite easily in the end. The second half saw more domination by last seasons league and cup runners-up, as the Metro lads scored the opening three goals through Avdic – for his third thumper – Dino and Alija Redzepovic. Alex Stevanovic who was being shut out of the game, pulled one back for his side making it 7-1 as he was left unmarked at the back post, but Avdic’s fourth goal of the game brought the reds back down to earth. Esendon were finally put out of their misery when Grgic and Alija both completed their braces for the game and also completing the 10-1 score line – a margin that no one would have guessed before kick off! With that win, Metro climb back to the position they should have been around all season – 5th – and Essendon who seem to look fresh out of ideas will have to regroup before their massive clash against a resurgent Albert Park next week, and with 22 points and four games remaining, safety is not assured for the reds by any means!
FC Melbourne v Hume FC (4-3)
The final encounter of the night saw 8th side Hume pitted against a Melbourne side who are sitting just above the direct relegation spot in 11th. Hume, who were unlucky not to defeat Brunswick last week injected a few new faces into their line-up as regular keeper, Con Makris, defenders George Harrison and Enrique Iglesias and debutant Sacid Cicek all featured. Melbourne on the other hand who have been struggling for goals and motivation in the past few weeks were without striker David Fletcher, but in his place came first gamer Christian Safko. Melbourne got off to a flying start as defender, Mus Elorr streamed forward from defence and smashed his toe poke underneath keeper, Con Makris and against the right post. After a long period of both sides trying to gain possession, Melbourne player/manager Chris Gospel broke the dead lock with a perfectly timed strike which just beat Makris on the inside of the right post and gave his side a valuable lead. Melbourne keeper, Harry Kitharidis then made two top shelf saves before turning Haider Noor’s strike onto the cross bar, still maintaining the dark blues slender lead. Then to complete the scoring for the first half, Mus Elorr claimed Melbourne’s second when he hit his toe poke straight at Makris who got a hand on the ball but was unable to keep the ball out of the net. Hume raced out of the starting blocks and into the second half as Mehmet Parlak got forward and hit the left post, than seconds after, George Harrison missed an open goal and hit the right post. To rub a bit of salt into the wound, Elias Stavridis made it 3-0 as he completed a neat 1-2 with Lee Dore to slot into an unattended net. When Dominik Rafati hand-balled in the “D” to gift Hume a penalty, it seemed that the favourites would peg a goal back, but Kitharidis dove the right way and pulled off a miraculous save. It would be minutes until Hume got their first goal, but when they did, it was a goal of pure quality! Enrique Iglesias, with a dashing run from defence blasted his toe poke from half way and into the top corner of the Melbourne net. Diego Assaeda then made it 3-2 soon after with a cheeky shot with the outside of the right foot which bobbled past Kitharidis. Lee Dore soon restored a comfortable two goal cushion for Melbourne when he was able to get around Parlak and blasted past second Hume keeper Fethi Goren. To make for a nervy ending, Iglesias bagged his second of the game as he slotted from close range, but the biggest heart-stopper came from the second penalty spot, only 30 seconds from fulltime and Hume where a goal down, Iglesias had a golden opportunity to level the game and salvage a point, but it was not to be a Iglesias blasted over. The missed penalty meant that Melbourne earned a 4-3 win and are now only one point out of the top 8 with a game in hand! Things are looking up for the dark blues at this point in time – an important time too! Hopefully they can continue and give the cup a red hot shake.
Pascoe Vale FC v FC Balwyn (T.B.A)
Unfortunately the game between Pascoe Vale and Balwyn could not take place on Wednesday night. A rescheduled time slot will be reached by the NIKE V-League commission within the next few days, as the 11th placed side, Balwyn try to overcome the juggernaut that is Pascoe Vale who are currently sitting 8 points behind ladder leaders North Melbourne. Balwyn will also be desperate to claim the three points off Pascoe Vale as they have found themselves in a rugged relegation battle where they are now 3 points behind rivals FC Melbourne and yet a further 4 points away from playing in the FOz Cup. So with both teams vying for glory, it is surely going to be a match played with fierce intensity.
Top Goal Scorers:
- A. Stevanovic FCE – 40
- M. Avram FCP – 36
- J. Blackburn AFC – 35
- A. Redzepovic Metro FC – 34
- M. Nyadzayo CFB – 29
Round 18 Wednesday August 31
- 6:30 Ashburton FC v Albert Park FC 2 – 4
- 7:15 FC Prahran v Fitzroy FC 5 – 6
- 8:00 CF Brunswick v Nth Melbourne FC 2 – 4
- 8:45 FC Essendon v Metropolitan FC 1 – 10
- 9:30 FC Melbourne v Hume FC 4 – 3
- TBA Pascoe Vale FC v FC Balwyn
Round 19 Wednesday September 7
- 6:30 FC Melbourne v Nth Melbourne FC
- 7:15 FC Prahran v Metropolitan FC
- 8:00 CF Brunswick v Ashburton FC
- 8:45 Pascoe Vale FC v Fitzroy FC
- 9:30 FC Essendon v Albert Park FC
- 10:15 FC Balwyn v Hume FC
Go to futsaloz.tv to see video highlights of all the matches.