To kick-start proceedings to one of the most openly contested relegation/promotion series in recent history, the Victoria St stadium was treated to one of the more entertaining encounters of the night as Melbourne, who finished in 10th in the V-League, was pitted against the dangerous and very talented Mickleham who finished 3rd in the State League. There was only one new inclusion to the Melbourne line-up as ‘man-mountain’ Daniel Wilson made his debut as one of a squad of eight players. Mickleham on the other hand had ten lads on their bench, notably including the likes of Jacob Colossimo, Anthony Colossimo, Ryan Filipovic and Matty Theodore. Mickleham had signalled their intentions to the dark blues by bringing their best players, but as they had done in the league all season, Melbourne were not intimidated and just went about their business as they raced to a 3-0 lead with a double from Fab De Britto (inc. a 5th foul penalty) and a single from Lee Dore. Looking like a bunch of stunned rabbits in front of headlights, Mickleham were forced to go for goal a lot more frequently and their attacking flair came to fruition as they hit back with three of their own as Jacob Colossimo claimed two and Minh Nguyen’s goal from a corner made it 3-3. Melbourne could have dropped their heads and blamed each other for losing their comfy lead, but with so much on the line it would have proved too costly. The dark blues patience would soon pay off as Lee Dore’s 2nd spot penalty and second goal of the half would restore their lead and also settle the nerves. Daniel Wilson got his debut off to an impressive start with a darting long range strike which just beat keeper Baz Fezjulovski and Melbourne soon regained their three goal lead when Leonardo Correa thumped in De Britto’s cheeky cross from close range and make it 6-3 at the break. The second half was a lot less open as both teams looked to control the game and gain the early momentum and it was Melbourne who struck first (and second for that matter) as second gamer, Stef Papaluca and Lee Dore both scored within 5 minutes to make it 8-3. As Mickleham’s frustration began to increase, Melbourne’s confidence began to grow as De Britto, Correa and Dore were linking up brilliantly! The defensive partnership of Stavridis and Andrew Skoullos was also going strong as they were keeping the usually spirited Mickleham at bay. That was only until the final ten minutes of the game when Matty Theodore and Anthony Colossimo cracked the Melbourne defensive strong hold with brilliant individual efforts to make it 8-5. Similar to the first half, Mickleham gave away more than five fouls to gift Stef Papaluca the chance to undo all of their hard work, but luckily their keeper, Nguyen (who replaced Fezjulovski) stood his ground and turned his shot away. In the dying seconds of the game, it really heated up as Ryan Filipovic was dealt a second yellow – and resulting red card – for a dangerous slide tackle which also meant that Melbourne, through Lee Dore had another chance to extend their lead with a spot kick after the whistle. But as he did just moments before hand, Nguyen stood firm and denied Dore his fourth of the game and kept his side in touch of their opponents before next weeks second leg.
FC Balwyn v FC Collingwood (9-3)
The next game on the card saw Balwyn, who finished 9th in the V-League take on the State League’s 4th ranked side in Collingwood who just managed to scrape into the playoff’s on goal difference in front of Carlton. Balwyn managers, Matt Obeid and Mario Roza opted to retain their original squad and not bring in any panic signings as the whites looked to continue their impressive late league form. Collingwood, who played in the V-League last season had some very familiar faces in Tom Brooks, Carl Zabel, Freddy Orozco (formerly Ashburton), Jason Cheong and Mohamed Badawy. Wanting to assert their authority on Collingwood early on in the peace, Balwyn scored three unanswered goals through Jason Barrientos, Ben Bodo and Rob Zadwarny to really let their lesser opponents know what they were up against. Big defender, Tony Saric, who is known for his big tackles and presence in defence, was streaming forward and instrumenting counter attacks that North Melbourne would be proud of. The only flaw in Saric’s first half was that when gifted an opportunity to extend his sides lead with a second spot penalty kick, he blasted over the cross bar by a fair margin. In the latter half of the first period, Collingwood seemed to gain some new found confidence as Mohamed Badawy, big target Tom Brooks and Carl Zabel were threatening Frano Saric’s net. Collingwood’s endeavour was soon rewarded as Badawy scored a sweet volley from an unlikely angle which was timed to perfection to give his lads a fighting chance with a 3-1 deficit at half time. The second half opened up with both sides striving to gain the upper hand over one another, but it was Felipe Van De Wyngard who struck first, giving the Collingwood boys a great boost of confidence when he cooly sent his strike between Frano’s legs, but ‘the woods’ jubilation was short lived when Ben Bodo registered Balwyn’s first of the half as he timed his run to perfection with a beautiful finish past keeper, Duy San. Rob Zadwarny soon made it 5-2 claimed his second of the match. After having somewhat of a quiet performance, the State Leagues top scorer, Tom Brooks bobbed up for his sides third of the night when he capped off a brilliant 1-2 with Felipe to make it 5-3 midway through the final half. But that would be as good as it got for the woods, because from that point on Balwyn shifted into another gear and never looked back, scoring four majors without reply. Tony Saric added two, along with singles from Tony Imeri and a beautiful deft chip from Jason Barrientos off both the left and right post capped off an impressive performance from the 9th ranked V-League side, which in all honesty was well worthy of a cup position. But it seems that they have done enough in the first leg to make it back to the top flight, but they cannot become complacent or Collingwood will surely be there to make them pay!
Hume FC v Brimbank FC (2-4)
The final encounter of the night saw the lowest placed V-League qualifying side in Hume who finished in 11th going up against Brimbank who finished 2nd in the State League. Hume who brought along a very talented squad with the likes of Leigh Minopoulos, Nejdet Sahin, Andrew Nabbout and the long awaited return of their estranged manager, Amin Keddad made for a unit to be reckoned with. Brimbank are no strangers to the pressure and demand of V-League qualifiers as they have been involved in no less than four occasions and certainly know what it takes to make it through. They also have many former V-League players in Nurettin Kalkan, Admir Kablar, Fikret Causevic, Emir Ameti, Alija Karic and Elvo Klancevic who have been together for a long time and know each others game inside-out. It certainly was one clash that could have gone either way and the two questions that remained to be answered were: Would Hume’s individual brilliance get them over the line? Or would Brimbank’s solid team play and sturdy game plan give them the edge? The first half opened with the latter question being the answer as the State League’s second top scorer, Emir Ameti sent his toe-poke off the right post and past Fethi Goren for a 1-0 lead. Brimbank seemed very content with sitting on their slender lead as they decided to sit back and soak up all of the pressure that Hume was throwing at them. As time kept ticking away, both Goren and Brimbank’s Mohamed Kuzucu made crucial saves to the delight of their managers and team mates alike. But it was Goren who folded first as Ameti claimed his second by beating the Hume shot stopper to a loose ball in the ‘D’ with a desperate slide and make it 2-0. Hume bit back soon after with only 3 minutes on the clock through Andrew Nabbout when he toe poked from distance and just get his strike underneath Kuzucu to make it 2-1 before the break. The second period of play got off to a slow start as both teams aimed to avoid conceding sloppy goals and possession. Solid Brimbank defender, Fikret Causevic almost got his boys off to a flying start, but his thumping strike was denied by the crossbar. Although soon after, it was the Brimbank captain, Admir Kablar, that led by example for his troops when he put his close range finish beyond Goren for a 3-1 lead. Nurettin Kalkan soon followed suit when he also converted at the right back post from close range for a dream 4-1 lead. Hume, after being completely outplayed seemed to really flick the switch as Nabbout was denied by the left post and defender, Diego Assaeda also saw his double strike saved by the impressive Kuzucu. Then finally, as only minutes remained, Hume registered their second of the match through Nejdet Sahin (who was sent forward in a good move by manager Amin Keddad) who thumped home his first strike which rebounded back to him after Kuzucu had done well to get low to make a save. That was the last major play of the game as the score was locked at 4-2 to Brimbank who will be quite content with their hard earned two-goal advantage. Hume on the other hand have a lot to think about and many internal issues to address before the second leg next sunday.
Relegation/Promotion Battles: Wednesday October 5th
- 8:00 FC Melbourne (10th VL) v Mickleham FC (3rd SL) 8 – 5
- 8:45 FC Balwyn (9th VL) v FC Collingwood (4th SL) 9 – 3
- 9:30 Hume FC (11th VL) v Brimbank FC (2nd SL) 2 – 4
FOz Cup Round 1 Wednesday October 12
- 7:15 North Melbourne FC (1st) v FC Essendon (8th)
- 8:00 Pascoe Vale FC (2nd) v Ashburton FC (7th)
- 8:45 CF Brunswick (3rd) v FC Prahran (6th)
- 9:30 Metropolitan FC (4th) v Fitzroy FC (5th)
Relegation/Promotion Battles: Sunday October 12th
- 8:00 FC Melbourne (10th VL) v Mickleham FC (3rd SL) 3 – 0 agg.
- 8:45 FC Balwyn (9th VL) v FC Collingwood (4th SL) 6 – 0 agg.
- 9:30 Hume FC (11th VL) v Brimbank FC (2nd SL) 0 – 2 agg.
Go to futsaloz.tv to see video highlights of all the matches.