THE first qualifying round of the 2022 Australia Cup was held last weekend and of the six local clubs in action just two survived this Victorian section of the national competition.
The rebranded knockout tournament replaces the FFA Cup and last weekend’s opening involved local State 4 and State 5 clubs Baxter, Chelsea, Somerville Eagles, Rosebud, Aspendale Stingrays and Mount Martha.
Seaford United was involved in the Cup draw but forfeited its away clash with Westside Strikers Caroline Springs FC.
Peninsula Strikers, Skye United and Frankston Pines participate in the Cup next weekend but the draw had not been conducted as we went to press.
Langwarrin and Mornington participate in later rounds.
The only locals to survive the Cup opener were Chelsea and Aspendale Stingrays.
Chelsea got the ball rolling with a 2-0 home win against St Kilda on Friday night thanks to super sub Vinnie Van Dyk.
Early in the contest Chelsea striker Piers Brelsford was taken off with a suspected hamstring strain and on came Van Dyk who opened the scoring in the 23rd minute.
Chelsea keeper Rhys Davies made three clutch saves and Van Dyk effectively put the visitors away in the 86th minute.
Davies went long downfield and Mitch Hammond headed on before Van Dyk chipped St Kilda keeper Connor Henderson from outside the box.
Aspendale trounced Deakin University 5-0 at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex on Saturday evening.
Goals from Matt Bruce (2), James Macnab, Justin Lampert and Ben Garside ensured an easy passage into the next round for the side jointly coached by Gregor Macnab and Tony Guedes.
Both coaches cited the appearance of 17-year-old Liam Norris and 18-year-old Felix Hampson as match highlights while Matt Leggett, Dominic Paul, Matt Bruce and Kieran Hughes were Aspendale’s best in a dominant display.
A Nathan Yole goal in the 10th minute gave Baxter a 1-0 lead against Mount Waverley City at Baxter Park last weekend.
The visitors hit back later in the half with two goals in two minutes from Evan Devlin and eventually ran out 2-1 winners.
A Bryce Ruthven penalty was the sole response from Somerville Eagles who went down 3-1 to FC Tullamarine at ABD Stadium in Broadmeadows on Saturday.
Despite the loss the extensive squad makeover overseen by Somerville senior coach Lee Barber continues and last week he made another four signings.
Midfielders Jack Carter, Almand (Chris) Thomas and Josh Simmons and striker Tom Simmons all made the move from North Seaford Reserve.
Newcomers announced previously were goalkeeper Nick Bucello, left-winger Adrian Pace and right winger Guil Ribeiro and it’s believed that the club is looking at bolstering its central defensive stocks.
“‘All these signings are quality and bring their own skill set to the squad,” Barber said.
“The four Seaford boys already know each other’s game and it’s been a seamless transition integrating them into the squad.”
Mount Martha bowed out of the Cup with a 3-0 home loss to Glen Waverley who led 2-0 at the break with both goals coming from the spot.
Despite a much improved second-half display by the home side a 73rd minute goal from Nick Higgins completed the scoreline.
Chris Sanderson’s side will host FC Noble Hurricanes in a friendly this Saturday at Civic Reserve (reserves 2pm, seniors 4pm).
Rosebud suffered a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Surf Coast at Banyul Warri Reserve in Torquay last weekend.
Despite being down 6-0 at half-time Rosebud battled away in the second half and Blake Hicks ended the barrage of goals when he scored in the 73rd minute.
A surprising aspect of Rosebud’s matchday squad was the appearance of ageing striker Mark Pagliarulo and the versatile Cal Richardson.
“Pags” quit as player-coach late last year and was understood to have left Rosebud while Richardson was believed to be heading to Frankston Pines.
“I was looking for another club and never had any options apart from Somerville … until Rosebud came back in,” was how Pagliarulo explained his u-turn.
In friendly games NPL2 contender Langwarrin had a solid hit-out at Jack Edwards Reserve on Friday night against Oakleigh Cannons, one of the NPL’s premier clubs.
Langy had a few senior players unavailable and went down 1-0, the winner coming from the penalty spot.
Hours before the game Langwarrin announced the signing of star Green Gully midfielder Jay Davies, another coup in a busy off-season.
Englishman Davies, 30, joined Gully in 2016 and lists Woking, St Neot’s Town and Bishop’s Storford among others on his football CV.
The NPL transfer window closed last Thursday and although clubs can still sign players 23 years old and under it’s unlikely that the Lawton Park outfit will make any more major signings.
Davies joins other newcomers in Kieran Dover (from Bentleigh Greens), Jacob Brito (Dandenong City), James Kelly (Essendon Royals), Ryan Paczkowski (Oakleigh Cannons), Mawien Nielo (Heidelberg United) and Lenny Gregory (Oakleigh Cannons).
Langwarrin takes on Doveton at Lawton Park this Saturday with the under-21s at 1pm and the seniors at 3pm.
Mornington drew 2-2 with NPL3 side Box Hill United at Dallas Brooks Park last weekend.
Josh Hine scored both goals for the locals.
Peninsula Strikers lost 2-0 to State 1 outfit South Springvale in a friendly at Centenary Park last Saturday.
Kiwi striker Riley Anderton was back in action and played a full game.
Strikers gaffer Donn Delaney was pleased with his side’s performance.
“One disallowed goal for us and two cracking saves kept us from scoring but they also had two very marginal offside goals disallowed,” he said.
“It was an open game where we tried to match them for as long as possible so we learned a lot as a squad.”
Frankston Pines continued its off-season makeover with news that Liam Baxter has been signed from Kingston City.
The former Inverness Caley striker arrived from Scotland in 2017 and has played for Goulburn Valley Suns, Langwarrin, Mornington, Casey Comets and Box Hill United.
Pines went down 1-0 to Skye United at Carrum Downs Recreation Reserve last Thursday night.
Marcus Anastasiou scored the decider after getting a flick-on from a Michael Bruzzese free kick.