CHAMPIONSHIPS and promotion are on the line for four local clubs come this weekend’s final round of the 2022 season.
Frankston Pines are in touching distance of the State 3 South-East title having already secured promotion while State 1 local Mornington and State 2 neighbours Peninsula Strikers and Skye United remain in the promotion race.
Pines face an away fixture against ninth-placed Ashburton on Saturday while Mornington has a mountain to climb away to title-chasing Beaumaris.
Pines thrashed visitor Rowville Eagles 5-1 last weekend thanks to a Liam Baxter masterclass in off-the-ball movement and finishing.
While Rowville’s best player, Denilson Neronha, was shutting down Pines’ striker Dylan Waugh, Baxter was leading the other Rowville defenders a merry dance and his two first-half goals had the home side in control at the break.
His first came from a well-timed run in the 21st minute capped by a cheeky dink over advancing Rowville keeper Marcus Ciechowicz.
Baxter made it 2-0 in the 32nd minute thanks to a Keegan Grealey assist that left the Pines striker with his back to goal.
Baxter controlled the ball then spun past a defender and finished superbly again.
He completed his hat-trick in the 56th minute after being brought down inside the area and converting with ease from the spot.
Pines midfielder Tommy Dunn put Baxter through four minutes later and the Scot had the temerity to knee the bouncing ball over the advancing Ciechowicz to make it 4-0.
Rowville didn’t lie down though and Neronha, who had pushed forward, took advantage of shoddy defending to score from close range in the 70th minute.
A minute into injury time Pines completed the rout with the best team goal of the contest.
The move started in Pines’ defensive half but inside its attacking half it involved substitutes Aaran Currie and Tom Hawkins and Baxter, Sava Baledrokadroka and eventually Christian Malgioglio who cut inside on the left of the area onto his non-preferred right foot then unleashed a crisp strike that sailed into the far corner of goal.
In NPL2 Langwarrin came from behind to beat Brunswick City 2-1 at Dunstan Reserve on Saturday.
The match was held up in the first half due to a fierce hail and lightning storm but a Kobe Timms’ header from a corner in the 35th minute gave the home side the lead at the interval.
The Langy fightback started in the 63rd minute.
Jacob Brito and substitute James Kelly combined before Kelly laid the ball off to Tom Youngs who made it 1-1.
Youngs also nabbed the winner in the 82nd minute after another Kelly assist and a fine close-range finish.
In State 1 Mornington had to wait until late in its home match with Eltham Redbacks to break the deadlock and record a precious 1-0 win last weekend.
A compact and difficult Eltham side were finally undone when a David Stirton header late in the game provided the breakthrough much to the delight of the home supporters.
In State 2 South East a promotion logjam sees clubs from second to sixth involved.
Skye United (6th) has the least realistic chance of promotion as it needs everything to go its way albeit that of those five clubs in the hunt it has the best goal difference.
Skye will face champion Collingwood City at Skye while Strikers (5th) face a daunting away trip to meet Doncaster Rovers (4th) next weekend.
Both Strikers and Skye blew chances to record crucial home wins last Saturday, Strikers drawing 2-2 with Heatherton United while Skye drew 1-1 with Brandon Park.
Goals from Riley Anderton and Jai Power had Strikers holding onto a precious 2-1 scoreline before Meldin Klehic broke their hearts in the 93rd minute with a superb strike.
Skye led 1-0 against Brandon Park thanks to Mark O’Connor’s 31st minute shot from inside the area after good work on the right by Dusko Erkalovic but Sonny Lindsay levelled in the 75th minute with a near post header from a corner.
Skye stayed on top of the reserves ladder with a 2-1 win over Brandon Park last Saturday thanks to a double from Mikey Turner and can clinch the championship on the weekend if it beats third-placed Collingwood.
In State 4 Baxter marked the last home match of the George Hughes’ era with a 4-1 win over Noble Park, Chelsea stunned Springvale City with a 3-1 win at Ross Reserve while champions Dandenong South also were surprised by Somerville Eagles in a 3-3 draw at Tyabb Central Reserve.
Chelsea opened its account through a Lachie Davies tap-in the 14th minute and Vinnie Van Dyk made it 2-0 in the 28th minute with a shot from outside the area.
A good finish from Max Timuska-Carr following a square ball from Van Dyk in the 60th minute made it 3-0 before substitute Sarfaraz Hussain completed the scoreline 10 minutes later.
Somerville went behind in the 14th minute of its clash but captain Adrian Pace equalised two minutes later when he was quickest to react to a scramble in the box following a Conor Mcfall corner.
Dandenong South was on top though and left winger Halil Reki cut inside then unleashed a superb strike into the top far corner to make it 2-1.
Two minutes into the second half Josh Simmons made it 2-2 following a Pace corner.
It took a piece of individual brilliance from Dandenong South’s Isa Sula on the right who skinned two defenders and hammered home a shot from a tight angle to put the visitors in front again.
But Somerville persisted and was rewarded in the 88th minute when a penalty awarded for handling saw Mcfall send opposition keeper Elvis Alimovski the wrong way.
In State 5 South a Marcus Spivey hat-trick led Mentone to a 3-1 away win over Mount Martha last weekend.
Two strikes by the Mentone captain from outside the box gave the visitors to Civic Reserve a 2-0 half-time lead.
Mitch Hawkins pulled one back for the home side but Spivey completed his hat-trick in the 92nd minute with Mount Martha pressing for an equaliser.
Aspendale beat Barton United 2-1 at Jack Grut Reserve last weekend.
The home side led 2-0 at half-time thanks to a Noah Berends header from a superb Kieran Hughes cross and a surging run from Felix Hampson to get on the end of Matt Leggett’s pinpoint ball over the top and finish well.
Barton hit back in the 71st minute but Aspendale held on for a good win.
Meanwhile Football Victoria’s competitions department was unable to announce the final round of league matches for State 2 South-East as we went to press despite having many weeks to do so.
It is believed that FV’s lethargy is directly linked to having Jewish-backed North Caulfield in that league, a club that prefers to play all its fixtures on Sunday afternoons.
Apologies to local clubs Peninsula Strikers and Skye United for not being able to promote their fixtures for this important last round.
FV failed to respond to attempts to contact it on this matter.
NEXT WEEK’S GAMES
Saturday 20 August, 3pm:
Langwarrin v Manningham Utd Blues – Lawton Park
Beaumaris v Mornington – Beaumaris Reserve
Ashburton v Frankston Pines – Ashburton Park
FC Noble Hurricanes v Somerville Eagles – Alex Nelson Reserve
Keysborough v Baxter – Coomoora Reserve
Noble Park v Chelsea – Norman Luth Reserve
Bunyip District v Aspendale – Bunyip Recreation Reserve
Mount Martha v Pakenham Utd – Civic Reserve
Mentone v Rosebud – Mentone Grammar