FTZ: B. Monteleone 3, M. Burton, J. Ortiz, J. Silveria
ASH: S. Gustus, J. Jiminez, M. Alghorabi, M. Matar
The first game to kick start the penultimate round of the 2013/14 NIKE VLP saw Fitzroy take on an in form Ashburton. The confidence was high throughout the Green Machines’ squad after defeating the Vipers last week and looked to claim their second big scalp within two weeks. But there was no separating either side as the half time score read 2-2, with goals from Fitzroy’s Jeremy Ortiz – in his final game before heading back to America – and Joao Silveria cancelled out strikes from Stephen Gustus and Joaquin Jiminez. The second half was also played in close quarters as early goals from Ashburton’s Moe Alghorabi and Fitzroy’s Mark Burton suggested that this clash was destined for a stalemate. But in the dying minutes, up stepped Fitzroy youngster Ben Monteleone who blasted an unlikely hat trick to secure an important three points to keep their slim title hopes alive. There was time for a late consolation goal from Ash’s Moe Matar but it was too little too late, as Jeremy Ortiz ended his NIKE VLP journey on a high note. It certainly will be a blow to Tod Myle’s side right before the end of the end of season FOz Cup.
Man of the Match: Ben Monteleone (Fitzroy)
In recent weeks, Fitzroy have enjoyed an impressive run of results including a thumping win over league giants Pascoe Vale. This has largely coincided with the white hot form of Brazilian star Fernando De Moraes. With the Brazilian’s absence against Ashburton, all eyes were on the Fitzroy squad to see who would step up and deliver in such a crucial match. Enter Ben Monteleone, a young player who has never given less than 100% at any given time. With the scores level and time ticking away, Monteleone kept on pushing for the winner and scored three times in quick succession to seal the win.
MET: D. Redzepovic
PV: A. Caro, S. Soufi, J. Da Silva, B. Polatti, A. Battaia
The second game on the Round 20 card saw old foes Metropolitan and Pascoe Vale take to the pitch. With the final round looming, all eyes were on these two greats of the game to see who would take a step closer to claiming the final FAFL Cup spot. With Pascoe Vale winning the first two FAFL Cups’s it would be almost unimaginable to have one of the best sides in the land not taking part. But that idea was soon becoming a reality as Metro’s Dino Redzepovic scored to put his side into an unlikely 1-0 lead at the break. But with only one sub on the bench – debutant Edvin Sejranovic – it was only a matter of time before Pascoe ran over the top of the Royal Blues. Putting up quite a fight in the early stages of the half calling opposing gloveman Felipe Bley into a string of fine saves, goals from Pascoe’s Andre Caro and Alessio Battaia broke Metropolitan’s back. Although Blues keeper Michael Chami did his best to keep his lads in the game, strikes from Sofiane Soufi, Brenno Polatti and Joao Da Silva delivered a confidence boosting win and has ultimately sealed their entry to the FAFL Cup to defend their title.
Man of the Match: Felipe Bley (Pascoe Vale)
With Italian keeper Giobatta Bianchini still yet to find his feet in the league, the stage was set for Pascoe Vale’s Felipe Bley to show what he is made of. Although under an injury cloud, Bley rose to the challenge to only concede one goal against one of the highest scoring sides in the league. His energy and encouragement was a welcome asset to the Pascoe squad which has been lacking plenty in that department in recent weeks. It was a delight to see the Brazilian back to his best.
HME: P. Montagna
VV: M. Barrigos 2, M. Avram 2, Jas. Barrientos, K. Machoy
The next game on the card was by far and a way the biggest of the night as the Vic Vipers looked to claim their third title – their first since the 2011/12 season – against Hume. In the first half, the Vipers who were without influential defender Adam Cooper didn’t have everything their own way as they found themselves in a narrow 2-1 lead at the break. Strikes from Jason Barrientos and Maxi Avram were able to cancel out Paul Montagna’s solitary effort for Hume. After a stern talking to at half time by manager Spiro Kargas, the Vipers responded in kind by scoring four unanswered goals to run away with a 6-1 win. After conceding early on in the half, Hume seemed to drop their heads and the absence of captain and hard tackling defender Resit Culculoglu was felt. A Miguel Barrigos double, along with singles from Avram and Konrad Machoy delivered the ladder leaders their seventeenth win of the season. The Army tried their best to spoil the Vipers day in the sun but it seemed there was going to be nothing that could get between the Vipers and the 2013/14 title which they were so deserving of. It’s fair to say that the now current champions have gone through a rather dramatic transformation in comparison to last season. Finishing just above the relegation playoff spots and missing the FOz Cup, then becoming league champs in the next season is a mind blowing feat. Every single player in a Vipers shirt played their part when called upon, they truly are to be held as an example to all teams that wish to build a successful franchise. Two of the most passionate and knowledgeable managers in the league – Milton Sakkos and Spiro Kargas – a strong, tight knit squad and squad players taking the next step into some of the most talented in the league have been major factors in the Vipers success. Congratulations to all of those involved as preperations for the FOz Cup begin.
Man of the Match: Miguel Barrigos (Vic Vipers)
Talented winger Miguel Barrigos has always been a good player, but this season he has really taken the next step to become one of the best in the league. Scoring goals for fun all season, Barrigos was twice on the scoresheet against Hume and has been a major reason of the Vipers rapid rise to the title this season. Combining physicality and skill, Barrigos has been a crowd favourite with some breathtaking strikes and will certainly be a big factor in the upcoming FOz Cup as the Vipers look to claim the double.
MICK: H. Hassanikhoo 2, M. Lunt 2, I. Filipovic, V. Zoric, L. Campbell, A. Mesinovic, L. Erakovic
APK: G. Paschalidis 2
The final game for Round 20 saw the two bottom placed sides in Mickleham and Albert Park go head to head. With neither side being able to up or down on the ladder, their was only pride to play for. After being on the wrong end of some heavy defeats, it was no wonder that Mickleham found themselves leading at half time. Individual strikes from Vlado Zoric, Lachie Campbell, Miroslav Lunt and Lubomir Erakovic ensure that George Paschalidis’ double was overshadowed. The second half saw Mickleham extend their lead even further as debutant Hamid Hassanikhoo impressed with a double, while Ignat Filipovic and Arin Mesinovic also got onto the scoresheet to register their sides third win of the season. Vlado Zoric’s lads still have plenty of work to do if they are to topple either of the State League’s Balwyn or Brunswick. But if Mickleham turn up with their full strength squad, they will certainly be in with a shout of playing in the top flight next season.
Man of the Match: Hamid Hassanikhoo (Mickleham)
The winger who last played for Melbourne in the State League has re-ignited the fire within to try his skills out in the V-League and on debut for Mickleham he didn’t disappoint. Adding quality passing, moving and strikes on goal, Hassanikhoo will be a major player in Vlado Zoric’s side if he can keep up this kind of form. Although the opposition was only bottom placed Albert Park, his two goal performance will not go unnoticed as a clash with the Vipers looms next week.
Photo: Mickleham’s man of the Match Hamid Hassanikhoo (R) made a welcome return to league action with an impressive double.