BAXTER’s capture of Damien Miskulin, Langwarrin’s come-from-behind win and Australia Cup controversy were the main talking points to emerge from an action-packed weekend.
Late last week Baxter announced that it had clinched the signature of 26-year-old midfielder Miskulin who made 21 appearances last season for Doveton in NPL3.
Miskulin had been with Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Knights and Dandenong City prior to joining Doveton.
It’s rare for players in their prime to make a dramatic drop down the leagues but Miskulin had a simple response when queried about the move.
“I’m going to Europe for four weeks and would have missed some games for Doveton so I thought I’d go down to Baxter and have a fun year with my best mate down there who I haven’t played with since we were eight years old,” he said.
That best mate is another new Baxter signing, Dallas Mcneill and Miskulin also enjoys a close friendship with Liam Myatt whose brother Keegan recently made the switch from Doveton to Baxter Park.
In NPL2 Langwarrin’s season got off to a flyer at Lawton Park on Saturday evening when Brad Blumenthal put the locals 1-0 up in the opening minute.
A clash between Tom Podarides and Kingston’s Trent Skapetis saw the latter sent off in the 26th minute but two minutes later Kingston captain Faisal Sakhizada exposed Langwarrin’s aerial frailty by heading a corner onto the bar and Keisuke Honda converted from point blank range.
The 10 men stunned the home side in the 40th minute when Sakhizada broke forward and headed them in front following a cross from the left.
James Kelly and Tom Youngs were the men behind Langwarrin’s comeback and their goals in the 53rd and 57th minutes put Langy fans at ease.
Kelly’s surge into the attacking third and a low shot from outside the area made it 2-2 and Youngs’ decisive low strike came after he’d jinked past two defenders on the left and finished superbly.
Langwarrin now begins a five-match away stint on Friday when it travels to John Cain Memorial Park to take on Northcote City.
Send-offs and officiating controversy marred the second preliminary round of the Australia Cup last weekend.
Rosebud had a bye, Mount Martha forfeited but Baxter, Mount Eliza, Somerville Eagles and Mentone all lost.
At Reema Reserve Baxter sorely missed Miskulin due to work commitments and went down 1-0 to Endeavour United.
Baxter had two send-offs – Alex Piasentin and keeper Jarrod Nardino – while head coach Stephen Fisher was cautioned.
Mount Eliza assistant coach Stan Packer outdid Fisher by being sent off in the second half of his team’s 5-0 loss to Epsom at Monterey Reserve.
It was a case of mistaken identity according to Packer but by then it was no contest.
The first two Epsom goals highlighted dreadful decisions from an assistant referee who received a resounding round of applause when he eventually gave a correct offside decision.
Somerville Eagles went down 4-2 to Manningham Juventus at Park Avenue Reserve on Saturday.
Somerville hit the woodwork multiple times and failed to convert numerous chances.
Jake Meggs and Tom Simmons were the Eagles’ scorers.
Meggs’ goal stood out as he beat two opponents before hammering home a low shot from outside the area.
Mentone went down 3-2 on Sunday evening to Templestowe Wolves at Petty’s Reserve after being 3-1 down at half-time.
Prolific scorer Marcus Spivey and Eric Ervine were on target for Mentone.
In State 1 news the outcome of Fraser Maclaren’s visit this week to a specialist will have a major bearing on Mornington’s season.
The former Beaumaris, Melbourne Victory, South Melbourne, Dandenong Thunder and Langwarrin goalkeeper is believed to have suffered a meniscus injury in the previous week’s friendly against Doveton.
Mornington last week signed Adam Hester from Doveton and the former Beaumaris player is likely to be used in a wide role.
The Seagulls lost 3-0 at Dallas Brooks Park in Saturday’s friendly against Clifton Hill.
It was a match Mornington recruit Travis Chalk-Hatton will want to forget as the tall defender had a hand in all the goals.
In State 2 news Peninsula Strikers have completed a significant off-field coup with the appointment of current Young Matildas and Melbourne City W-League goalkeeping coach Jordan Franken.
Strikers president Adrian Scialpi was instrumental in luring the former Dandenong Thunder goalkeeping coach to Centenary Park.
Scialpi knows Roy Hunter, director and head coach of goalkeeping academy Premier Football Tuition and Hunter pointed him in Franken’s direction.
“I called Jordan and we agreed terms so we’ve added another quality person to our coaching staff,” Scialpi said.
Strikers have signed Nathan Brown from Somerville Eagles and he will vie with Ben Caballero for the senior goalkeeping spot.
Midfielder Kostas Varkatzos, 21, has been signed from Bulleen.
He previously played for Oakleigh Cannons and Port Melbourne in the JBNPL.
Strikers also announced the signing of teenage left back Jordy May from Mornington.
Rumours of gloom and doom at State 2 rival Frankston Pines were ridiculed by the Monterey Reserve faithful after head coach Trevor Johnston had a 23-player matchday squad at his disposal on Saturday.
Pines beat Richmond 1-0 with an impressive first-half finish from Dandenong Thunder recruit Hassan Nazari who excelled on the left wing.
Captain Ryan Ratcliffe is back at Pines after trialling with Casey Comets and Johnston expects to cull his senior squad to 18 in coming days.
In State 5 news there’s talk of Cory Osorio moving from Rosebud to Seaford United.
Osorio was an interested spectator at Seaford’s 5-2 friendly win over Chelsea last weekend but Rosebud also has been active and is believed to have approached former player Dougie Cunnison.
Meanwhile Football Victoria released its preliminary State League fixtures last week.
Mornington gets the league action underway on Friday 17 March when it takes on South Springvale at Dallas Brooks Park at 8.30pm.
The three local clubs in State 2 – Peninsula Strikers, Skye United and Frankston Pines – play each other in the first four rounds of the season.
The opening round of the State League season is highlighted by three games featuring local clubs on Saturday 18 March all with 3pm kick-offs: Strikers v Skye at Centenary, Baxter v Chelsea at Baxter Park and Seaford v Mount Eliza at North Seaford.
Here are some of the results of last week’s pre-season friendlies:
Seaford Utd 2 (Nathan Medes, Abraham Lueth) Skye Utd reserves 6 (Daniel Castillo 2, George Jeffs, Nick Wright, Austin Sporys, Michael Turner); Endeavour Utd 1 Skye Utd 6 (Leo McLeod 2, Lewis Gibson, Slavisa Saric, Austin Sporys); Mornington 0 Clifton Hill 3; Peninsula Strikers 3 (Riley Anderton 3) Brighton 2; Frankston Pines 1 (Hassan Nazari) Richmond 0; Skye Utd 2 (Leo McLeod, Asgher Essa) Waverley Wanderers 0; Seaford Utd 5 (Josh Vega 2, Esmat Eshani 2, Chris Moreel) Chelsea 2 (Adam Bartosy, Hamish Dorigo).
Here are this week’s pre-season friendlies:
FRIDAY (24 February)
Monbulk Rangers v Chelsea, Monbulk Regional Soccer Facility, 6.30pm & 8.30pm.
SATURDAY (25 February)
Mornington v Whittlesea United, Dallas Brooks Park, 1pm & 3pm; Frankston Pines v Elwood, Monterey Reserve, 10am (seniors & reserves); Peninsula Strikers v Banyule City, Centenary Park, 1pm & 3pm; Lilydale Montrose Utd v Mount Martha, Keith Hume Fraser Reserve, 1pm & 3pm; Rosebud v Waverley Wanderers, Olympic Park, 6.30pm & 8.30pm; Seaford Utd v Melbourne University, North Seaford Reserve, 1pm & 3pm.