JOSH Hine’s hat-trick and Peninsula Strikers’ unblemished record were highlights of local State League fixtures last weekend.
In State 1 Mornington got its promotion chase back on track with a 4-1 home win over Bentleigh United Cobras on Friday night.
Assistant coach Nathan Peel resigned after the previous week’s 2-0 reversal against Casey Comets so it was important for the local club to bounce back immediately.
Hine scored a second-half hat-trick and is one of the leading contenders for the league’s Golden Boot honours while John Maclean was Mornington’s other scorer.
Strikers kept their faultless State 2 record intact with a fourth straight win, this time a 2-0 success over Knox City at Ballam Park on Saturday night.
Donn Delaney’s side sits on top of the league and has surprised many observers as it has overhauled its playing personnel in the off-season and has one of the youngest squads in the competition.
Huss Chehimi put Strikers ahead in the 29th minute after Cooper Andrews’ close ball skills left opponents in his wake before he delivered a through ball from inside Strikers’ half.
Chehimi ran onto it and slotted the ball past Knox keeper Mustafa Zahir.
In the 62nd minute Callum Bradbury was cautioned twice within a few seconds and Strikers were reduced to 10 players.
But that didn’t deter them and they went further ahead shortly after.
Darcy Purcell won the ball at the back then combined with Abbas Yaqobi before crossing to the back post.
Jai Power scuffed his shot but Andrews was on hand to slam the ball home.
Skye United lost 1-0 to Doncaster Rovers at Skye Recreation Reserve last weekend.
The decisive moment came in the 93rd minute when a free-kick struck Skye defender Alex Van Heerwarden and was deflected into the top corner.
In State 3 Frankston Pines came roaring back from indifferent recent form with a convincing 4-0 away win over Noble Park United.
Given that Pines were without central defender Ryan Ratcliffe, striker Liam Baxter (both injured) and central midfielder Thomas Dunn (in Fiji for family reasons) the win was full of merit against an unbeaten opponent.
Ratcliffe and Baxter are expected to train this week while Dunn returns to Melbourne in time for Pines’ round 6 away game against Bayside Argonauts.
On Saturday Pines scored twice in each half, the first from a quickly taken Dylan Waugh throw-in from the left in the 30th minute and a fine low strike from Aaran Currie.
The home side’s cause wasn’t helped four minutes later when Nikola Popetrov’s poor goalkick was met first time by Tom Hawkins who headed over a flat-footed defence to Dylan Waugh whose trusty left foot made no mistake.
Pines put the contest out of reach in the 56th minute but Currie’s penalty was saved before Hawkins tucked away the rebound to make it 3-0.
Substitute Chris Ojolo pounced on a defensive blunder in injury time then calmly slotted the ball in from close range before setting off on an elaborate goal celebration.
In State 3 Somerville’s derby fortunes took a turn for the worse when it went down 3-0 to Carlo Melino’s Chelsea at Tyabb Central Reserve on Saturday.
Piers Brelsford pounced on a goalmouth scramble in the 40th minute to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at the interval.
There was nothing scrappy about Brelsford’s second in the 65th minute courtesy of an excellent long-range strike that eluded Somerville keeper Sam Beadle.
Cramp forced Brelsford off in the 80th minute but his replacement Tom Kouroulis who usually plays at the back controlled Daniel Vella’s cross from the right in the 86th minute and lifted the ball over Beadle to complete the scoreline.
“We played really well in both halves – very different to our last match against Endeavour,” Melino said.
“I was really proud of the boys and this was a great bounce back win for us and we kept a clean sheet.”
The other State 4 clash saw Baxter go down 2-0 at home to league leader Dandenong South.
An early goal in both halves settled this and Baxter had nothing to show for its efforts especially in the second half.
In State 5 Mount Martha staged a remarkable fightback to overturn a three-goal deficit only to lose a seven-goal thriller against Hampton Park United.
The match was played at North Seaford Reserve while Civic Reserve remains unavailable and when the scoreline was 2-0 to Hampton Park after five minutes a whitewash was looming.
Mount Martha had no answer to former Pines striker Chris L’Enclume who did as he pleased inside the attacking third.
L’Enclume made it 1-0 after two minutes when he broke onto a long ball and chested it down then unleashed a low drive that gave Mount Martha keeper Derren Elliott no chance.
Four minutes later Elliott had barely recovered when beaten by L’Enclume again.
This time the powerful striker rifled a superbly struck low drive inside the far post to make it 2-0.
L’Enclume completed his hat-trick in the 28th minute when he combined with Sebastian Castano via a slick one-two before unleashing a sweetly struck low shot that left Elliott helpless.
Slowly and methodically Mount Martha got back into the contest and captain Ethan Sanderson should have done better when heading over a Mitch Hawkins chip from the right in the 25th minute.
When Mount Martha went long and over the top to exploit Sanderson’s pace Hampton Park started to look fragile and so it proved in the 40th minute when Sanderson broke through and finished with aplomb.
Ten minutes into the second half it was 3-2 thanks to an outrageous Hawkins curler from wide left that struck the inside of the far post then went in.
Substitute Adam Martin put Sanderson through in the 79th minute and he had no problem striking the ball truly past advancing Hampton Park keeper Jack Lindsay.
It was 3-3 and as improbable as this scoreline seemed early in the contest it was Mount Martha that now looked the likely winner.
That was until it failed to deal with a long throw in the 85th minute allowing Hampton Park substitute Dylan Thomas to angle the ball first time through a group of players and inside the near post for the winner.
Here are the round 5 games to be played over Easter:
THURSDAY: Mooroolbark v Skye Utd, Esther Park, 8.30pm; Frankston Pines v Whitehorse Utd, Carrum Downs Recreation Reserve, 8.30pm; FC Noble Hurricanes v Baxter, Alex Nelson Reserve, 8.30pm.
FRIDAY: Chelsea v Dandenong South, Edithvale Recreation Reserve, 8.30pm; Noble Park v Somerville Eagles, Norman Luth Reserve, 8.30pm.
SATURDAY: Langwarrin v Moreland City, Lawton Park, 3pm; Fitzroy City v Mornington, Kevin Bartlett Reserve, 6.15pm; Monbulk Rangers v Peninsula Strikers, Monbulk Regional Soccer Facility, 1pm; Aspendale v Mount Martha, Jack Grut Reserve, 3pm.