DESPITE having a raft of senior players sidelined through injury Mornington defied all odds to record a 2-1 away win over high-flying Malvern City on Saturday.
The Dallas Brooks Park club reacted to its injury plight with a clutch signing leading up to this contest.
The Seagulls agreed terms with 27-year-old central defender Keagan Sheridan from Dandenong Thunder and his central defensive combination with the towering Josh Heaton was an important element of Saturday’s success.
Campbell Steedman put Mornington ahead in the 27th minute when he broke clear and finished well but a knee injury forced captain Wayne Gordon to be replaced in the 39th minute.
On came Colombian striker Leandro Salazar who had been signed from Bentleigh United Cobras a fortnight earlier and had played in the reserves the previous week.
It was Salazar’s cool finish into the bottom corner in the 60th minute that gave the visitors breathing space and Malvern’s reply in the final minute of normal time was of no consequence.
“We went out with a plan – knowing a bit about how they would play – and the boys executed it well,” Mornington assistant coach Gerry McDonagh said.
“The key was being able to take our opportunities. We probably only had three or four opportunities and we took two of them.”
Mornington now faces another huge challenge when it hosts title favourite Boroondara-Carey Eagles this weekend.
In NPL2 Langwarrin’s winless season continued when it drew 1-1 with Kingston City at Lawton Park last Friday night.
Both goals came in the first 10 minutes with Kingston getting off to a flyer thanks to Marc Latsis on the left delivering an inch-perfect cross for Giuseppe Marafioto to effect a glancing header that gave Langy keeper Fraser Maclaren no chance.
Three minutes later a Slaven Vranesevic free-kick from the left was headed home by Mawien Nielo for the equaliser.
Vranesevic was in charge in midfield in the first half, Langy’s back five looked comfortable and youngster Nielo looked capable of hitting the target a few times.
But Vranesevic was much less effective after the break and the second half developed into a stalemate with both keepers rarely called into action.
Langy could have snatched the points with the last play of the contest as a Vranesevic free-kick struck the bar before being cleared.
In State 2 Peninsula Strikers stretched their lead at the top of the table with a 1-0 away win over Berwick City last weekend.
It was the late, late show that sunk the home team with Jai Power’s all-important strike 15 seconds from time sealing Berwick’s fate.
Mohsen Chehimi won the ball then played it to Power who drilled a low shot from just outside the area through a couple of players and into the bottom left-hand corner just out of the reach of Berwick keeper Patrick Lejman.
At the start of the season there were doubts about the revamped Strikers squad under new senior coach Donn Delaney given that so many experienced players had left but seven wins in the first eight rounds have silenced the critics.
Strikers have now set up a mouth-watering round 9 clash at Ballam Park on Saturday night against second-placed Collingwood City.
Skye United had to settle for a point when it drew 0-0 away to Old Scotch last weekend.
It’s been a frustrating season so far for Skye as the only team to beat Strikers is now nine points behind the league leader.
In State 3 it took Frankston Pines 52 seconds to assert its superiority against Hampton East Brighton at Dendy Park on Saturday eventually cruising to a 5-1 win.
An Aaran Currie throw-in on the left was flicked on by Callum Batey across Hampton keeper Nicholas Chin and into the bottom corner.
Fijian midfield maestro Thomas Dunn scored his first goal for Pines with a surging solo run in the 30th minute.
He left defenders in his wake then delivered a precise low finish past the advancing Chin to make it 2-0.
It was 3-0 in the 38th minute and the home side was staring down the barrel.
Ryan Ratcliffe played a long ball forward and Pines striker Dylan Waugh had timed his run to perfection to get in behind the defence before dinking the ball expertly over Chin.
Four minutes into the second half Liam Burford reduced the deficit and Pines were forced onto the back foot for the next 15 minutes.
Pines keeper Thomas Hull made two stunning saves before the visitors restored their three-goal cushion in the 77th minute.
Dunn split the defence with a superb pass allowing Waugh to break clear and grab his second.
In the 88th minute Jordan Avraham’s free-kick into the area was headed towards goal by Daniel Taylor and substitute Liam Baxter smashed it into the roof of the net from point-blank range to complete the rout.
In State 4 an Adam Bartosy hat-trick and a four-goal second half underpinned Chelsea’s 6-0 whitewash of promotion hopeful Sandown Lions at Edithvale Recreation Reserve on Friday.
Bartosy opened his account in the 14th minute with a tap-in from a Piers Brelsford cross and Max Timuska-Carr reacted well from a scramble in front of goal to make it 2-0 in the 42nd minute.
Brelsford’s neat flick-on was finished by Bartosy with a first-time strike into the far corner in the 65th minute and Bartosy was felled inside the area in the 68th minute and converted from the spot to make it 4-0.
Brelsford’s customary goal came in the 78th minute after good work from captain Luke D’Allesandro down the left but the goal of the contest came from Sam Dunn in the 90th minute.
The central defender won the ball on the right side of defence and burst forward before unleashing a long-range strike from 40 metres that sailed into the top corner of the Sandown net to complete a memorable night for the home side.
In contrast Baxter’s winning run ended on Saturday losing 2-0 at home to Springvale City.
Baxter had been hit hard with injury and illness and James Foster, Nathan Yole, Nat Daher and Daniel Fernandez were unavailable while Izaak Barr, Charlie O’Connell, Robbie O’Toole, Dan Disseldorp, Jack Buttery and Luke Grant were all unable to train last week leading into the Springvale clash.
Baxter now faces a rampant Chelsea at Baxter Park this weekend with the visitors’ recent form pushing it into third spot on the ladder.
In State 5 Mount Martha lost 4-1 away to Bunyip District while Rosebud lost 5-0 away to title contender White Star Dandenong.
Here are this weekend’s round 9 games:
FRIDAY: Frankston Pines v Middle Park, Carrum Downs Recreation Reserve, 8.30pm.
SATURDAY: Goulburn Valley Suns v Langwarrin, John McEwen Reserve, 3pm; Mornington v Boroondara-Carey Eagles, Dallas Brooks Park, 3pm; Skye Utd v Berwick City, Skye Recreation Reserve, 3pm; Peninsula Strikers v Collingwood City, Ballam Park, 7pm; Baxter v Chelsea, Baxter Park, 3pm; Springvale City v Somerville Eagles, Ross Reserve, 5pm; Endeavour Hills v Mount Martha, Power Reserve, 3pm; Rosebud v Bunyip District, Olympic Park, 8pm.