SEAFORD United players walked off Edithvale Recreation Reserve pleased with the 3-2 away win that kept their promotion hopes alive in State 4 South.
It’s Friday 30 July, 2021 and no-one has the slightest inkling that this is Seaford’s last appearance in State League ranks for some time. Perhaps forever.
Peter Schwellinger was in his first full season as senior coach and along with assistant Andy Lancaster had embedded belief and structure in the squad.
When COVID-19 forced Football Victoria to call a halt to the league Seaford was third, one point behind second-placed Endeavour United after 12 games.
Everyone assumed that Schwellinger, Lancaster and almost all of the first team players would stay.
Schwellinger believed that with just a few additions to his squad it could mount a serious title push this year.
However two hurdles lay in his path and both involved negotiations with club treasurer Brian Johnstone who had been empowered to act on the committee’s behalf.
The first hurdle, an increased playing budget, was cleared but a stumbling block emerged when it came to discussing Schwellinger’s personal terms.
It was December now and Seaford was the only local club yet to name its senior coach for 2022.
A huge travel impost faced by Schwellinger who lived in Pascoe Vale and worked in Truganina was the basis of his request to have an extra $150 a week added to his 2021 coaching payment.
The club’s offer was understood to be just $25 short when negotiations stalled.
Doubts now surfaced as to whether or not Schwellinger would stay and they were realised on Boxing Day when he sent an email to club president Willie Lynn telling him of his decision to step down.
“We still don’t know what we’ve done wrong,” Lynn said.
“I’d love to find out.
“We’d like to get back into State League and we know there’s a lot of work to do but we’ve still got over 15 teams to look after.”
Schwellinger’s decision had sounded Seaford’s State League death knell as it triggered a mass player exodus from which the club would never recover.
Scott Morrison and Paul Williams were among names bandied about as possible replacements but what had become a poisoned chalice was handed to Paul Truman in early January.
“The club knew I wasn’t going to turn up with 14 or 15 players but they thought we’d maybe keep a core group,” Truman said.
“I think we lost around 18 players and in the end we simply didn’t have the numbers.”
Seaford forfeited its recent Australia Cup first round qualifying match and officially withdrew from State League competition last week.
It will run juniors and women’s teams under the FV banner and field teams in the Bayside League.
In Australia Cup news Peninsula Strikers came from a goal down at half-time to overrun visitors North Melbourne Athletic 3-1 at Centenary Park on Saturday.
Strikers’ coach Donn Delaney made two changes at the break bringing on Junior Mpota and Abe Kuol and a Kuol cross from the left in the 65th minute was headed back into the goalmouth by Cooper Andrews for Jai Power to beat the advancing keeper and tap in the equaliser.
Power’s second a few minutes later was a stunning piece of individual skill.
He was in a central position when he dragged down a long ball from the right and spun past two defenders before striking his shot low and inside the far post.
Kuol got the third after a solo run cutting in from the left and his deflected shot sealed the comeback.
Frankston Pines withstood a marathon Cup tie against Albion Rovers at Carrum Downs Recreation Reserve on Friday night winning 9-8 on penalties.
A fine finish from Liam Baxter after a Tommy Hawkins flick-on in the 66th minute put Pines ahead only for Habib Fleifel to level for Albion in the 80th minute heading home following a free-kick.
The deadlock couldn’t be broken after extra time and the decisive penalty was struck home by Pines’ Fijian import Thomas Dunn.
There’s been plenty of player movement at Pines in the last week.
Goalkeeker Aeseli Batikasa, defender Penni Tuigulagula and striker Tito Vodowaqa all signed with State 2 outfit Heatherton United.
And Pines welcomed Brodie Jones (from Doveton), ex-Pines captain Graham Hill (from Brandon Park) and Dylan Waugh (Seaford United).
Chelsea lost its Cup tie 5-4 on penalties against Lara United at Lara Recreation Reserve on Friday.
Vinnie Van Dyk put Chelsea ahead in the first half but the visitors conceded a goal in injury time and eventually lost the spot-kick showdown.
Chelsea had only seven senior regulars available and included four teenage debutants.
Both local State 5 sides lost their home ties last weekend, Aspendale going down 4-3 to Surf Coast at Edithvale Recreation Reserve and Mentone losing 4-0 to Moreland United at Waratah Reserve.
The winner in Aspendale’s seven-goal thriller came in the final minute of play.
Aspendale’s scorers were Kenny Nuhanovic, Dominic Paul and James Macnab and the best for the locals were Noah Berends, Paul, Kieran Hughes and Matt Leggett.
There’s no round of Cup matches next weekend but the national knockout competition resumes the following week.
There were a number of friendlies last Saturday involving local clubs.
Langwarrin lost 4-1 to Doveton at Lawton Reserve.
Jacob Brito scored for the home side who went into the contest without Kieran Dover, James Kelly, Lucas Portelli, Jay Davies, Marcus Holmes, Jeremy Min Fa, Slaven Vranesevic, Shay Alinejad and Rogan McGeorge.
Mornington lost 3-2 at home to Nunawading City.
Mornington’s goals in an open and competitive contest came from Josh Hine and Wayne Gordon.
Somerville beat Old Xaverians 2-0 at Somerville Secondary College with goals from Adrian Pace and Ronnie Krishnan.
Mount Martha defeated State 4 side FC Noble Hurricanes 3-1 at Civic Reserve last weekend.
The home side opened its account in the 7th minute when Connor Mooney stole in at the back post to finish from a Mitch Hawkins centre and 16-year-old Finn Tweedie made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute when he won the ball on the edge of the area and chipped the keeper.
The visitors hit back five minutes later but Tar Visalak restored the two-goal cushion following an Ethan Sanderson assist.