FRANKSTON Pines won promotion to State 2 last weekend despite a 0-0 draw against State 3 title challenger Hampton East Brighton.
And the $3.9m Monterey Reserve upgrade will be officially opened on Thursday even though the new clubrooms may remain unfit for purpose if problems with gas connection continue.
Pines have been forced to use the synthetic pitch at Wedge Road in Carrum Downs for much longer than anticipated.
That was the venue for the ladder leader to grind out a point on Friday night and with other results on the weekend going in Pines’ favour it was able to claim one of two promotion spots with three games to go.
“It was a bit of an arm wrestle and we didn’t play well but we handled everything they threw at us,” Pines head coach Kevin “Squizzy” Taylor said.
“(Goalkeeper) Tommy Hull was busy without having to make any great saves.
“I’m absolutely delighted we have secured promotion.
“It’s been four years in the making and is especially sweet after the disappointment of last season but we now need to concentrate on the last three games and hopefully bring home the league title.”
Come Thursday it’s expected that federal and state politicians and council luminaries will celebrate securing funding for and completing construction of a superb new facility albeit that the likelihood is that no-one can play there yet.
“It’s very disappointing as everyone involved with the club has been looking forward to a return to Monterey,” Taylor added.
“The facility is fantastic and it would be fitting if we were in a position to celebrate achieving both promotion and a league championship at our true home.
“Unfortunately we have also been forced to cancel a number of functions and events scheduled for Monterey and that will heavily impact the club.”
Pines still hope that their round 21 home fixture on Saturday 13 August against Rowville Eagles can be played at Monterey Reserve with 1pm and 3pm kick-offs for reserves and seniors.
In NPL2 news Langwarrin now finds itself embroiled in the relegation battle with the bottom two sides rumoured to face a relegation play-off with the third- and fourth-placed sides in NPL3.
That is yet to be ratified but is in the current NPL rules of competition (rule 10.3.6) and is expected to be implemented along with an NPL2 restructure for next season which should be announced shortly.
It makes Monday’s (25 July) clash between Kingston City and Langwarrin at Grange Reserve of crucial importance to both clubs given their current league positions in the bottom four.
In State 1 news Mornington lost 3-2 at home to Malvern City on Saturday in a match of great significance given the local side’s NPL ambitions and the tight race among the division’s top sides.
Malvern scored in the first minute but Mornington equalised 12 minutes later when David Stirton rose high with a great header into the top corner.
Right on half-time Malvern snatched back the lead but the second half was all Mornington.
A superb cross from the right in the 67th minute found Josh Hine whose brilliant header was matched by the save of the day from Malvern keeper Nathan Silver.
However the resulting corner was met by Josh Heaton who headed the ball back into the traffic and Campbell Steedman reacted quickest with a clever finish to make it 2-2.
Mornington had Malvern on the ropes and Hine missed numerous chances to seal the points.
In the 94th minute the home side was punished for its profligacy when a cross from the left was finished in style by Rowan McNamee.
Mornington’s NPL hopes are not dashed yet as it still has a game in hand on most of its rivals (at home against Warragul United in the catch-up round on Saturday 6 August) and this weekend it faces a must-win trip to Carey Sports Complex to face title challenger Boroondara-Carey Eagles.
In State 2 news Peninsula Strikers gave up a two-goal cushion to draw 2-2 with Berwick City at Ballam Park on Saturday night.
The result continues Strikers’ stuttering run to the finish line after being in a commanding promotion position for weeks.
Two Nathan Prince goals had Strikers firmly in control after 75 minutes but in the 89th minute Berwick’s Ladislav Nutil struck an unstoppable shot in off the crossbar and a minute later a slip and fumble from Strikers’ keeper Ben Caballero presented Berwick striker Antonio Marcuccio with a tap-in.
State 2 neighbour Skye United missed a chance to move into second spot on Friday night when it lost 2-0 at home to Old Scotch.
Skye was heavily undermanned with Caleb Nicholes ill, Boris Ovcin, Alex Van Heerwarden, Ali Ulum and Mark O’Connor all injured while James George was unavailable and Brett Heskins started on the bench after four weeks off.
On a positive note Skye’s reserves beat second-placed Old Scotch 3-1 after being 1-0 down with 10 minutes to play and are on track to win the reserves championship.
In State 4 news Chelsea had a 5-3 away win over Sandown Lions on Saturday.
Sandown captain Yandow Kong scored in the second minute but six minutes later a stunning half-volley from Connor Scott from just outside the box made it 1-1.
Lachie Davies was at the back post to tap in from Daniel Vella’s square ball in the 14th minute and substitute Willie Ong made it 3-1 in the 32nd minute with another back post tap-in.
Vella made it 4-1 with a low strike into the far corner seven minutes later but right on half-time Sandown’s Tevin Mwenenjawa made it 4-2 with a good finish from the rebound after his free-kick struck the defensive wall.
Chelsea squandered chances in the second half to put the contest out of reach and Mwenenjawa made it 4-3 in the 87th minute but Vella’s second three minutes later secured the points for the visitors.
Baxter’s bad run continued when it was thumped 7-0 by Springvale City at Ross Reserve last weekend.
The Baxter Park tenant continues to make announcements about next season.
The first was the appointment of Stephen Fisher as senior coach followed by the announcement of Hayden Taylor as senior assistant and last week the club announced that Kosta Drakoulakos will become High Performance and Strength and Conditioning coach.
In State 5 news Aspendale and South East United shared the spoils after a thrilling 3-3 result at Aspendale Gardens Sports Ground on Saturday.
James Macnab scored for Aspendale after six minutes and despite Aspendale controlling most of the play it was 1-1 at the break.
The second half was a hard-fought and even affair with Kieran Hughes and Dominic Paul scoring for Aspendale to make it 3-1 but South East scored twice in the last 15 minutes to earn a point.
Mount Martha’s regular season theme of conceding soft goals resulted in a 5-2 home loss to Bunyip District last weekend.
Bunyip led 2-1 at half-time but Mount Martha’s leading scorer Ethan Sanderson grabbed his second goal to draw the sides level in the second half before Bunyip capitalised on Mount Martha’s defensive woes.
Rosebud went down 4-1 at home to White Star Dandenong last weekend which secured the title for the visitors and promotion to State 4 South.
Jakob Markulin scored for Rosebud.
NEXT WEEK’S GAMES
Friday 29 July, 8.30pm:
Collingwood City v Peninsula Strikers – Kevin Bartlett Reserve
Chelsea v Baxter – Edithvale Recreation Reserve
Saturday 30 July, 3pm:
Langwarrin v Goulburn Valley Suns – Lawton Park
Boroondara Carey Eagles v Mornington – Wilcox Field, Carey Sports Complex
Berwick City v Skye Utd – Jack Thomas Reserve
Middle Park v Frankston Pines – Albert Park Field 16
Somerville Eagles v Springvale City – Tyabb Central Reserve
Aspendale v White Star Dandenong – Jack Grut Reserve
Bunyip District v Rosebud – Bunyip Recreation Reserve
Mount Martha – Bye