FRANKSTON Pines’ season goes on the line on Saturday night when it meets Berwick City at Monterey Reserve.
It’s a do-or-die clash for both sides given the relegation scrap in which they find themselves.
There’s just three games left with Pines precariously perched in second last place on the league ladder (at present the bottom two go down) a point behind Berwick and two points behind Skye United.
Skye hosts Berwick the following week.
Describing Pines’ season as topsy-turvy is an understatement.
Losing last season’s strike force due to players switching clubs and work commitments posed a problem that’s never been solved.
And the Fijian experiment has failed to match expectations.
Players have been brought here from Fiji and most have either switched clubs or returned to their homeland.
Both Anish Khem and Sava Baledrokadroka left the club during the season but have recently returned while upheaval in coaching ranks hasn’t helped with Trevor Johnston resigning to be replaced by former coach Kevin “Squizzy” Taylor.
There have been lengthy suspensions to club associates handed down by Football Victoria over incidents in the first half of the season and the feeling that Pines have lurched from one crisis to another is prevalent.
“It certainly has been challenging,” Taylor said.
“And yes we haven’t really solved the problem up front.
“We’ve been creating plenty of chances but we haven’t been taking them.
“Getting Dylan (Waugh) back (from work commitments) has given us a different dimension but his fitness is not quite there to last the 90 minutes.”
Both Graham Hill and Tom Hawkins will miss Saturday’s showdown due to suspension while Khem and Baledrokadroka will be monitored at training this week.
“Berwick’s a little bit like us in that they’ve got some good results and virtually picked up points when we’ve picked up points,” Taylor added.
“They brought in a few more players recently and I expect them to have the same mindset that we have – our fate’s in our own hands and we’ve just got to keep winning and we’ll stay up.
“Last time we played them (a 3-2 Berwick win) they were pretty well organised.
“Look I’d like to think that we’ve got sufficient [sic] to pick up three points and to stay alive going into the last two games.”
Last weekend was a scheduled catch-up round for NPL and State League clubs and there was only one game in town – the State 4 derby between Somerville Eagles and Baxter at Tyabb Central Reserve.
It proved to be an emphatic 3-0 victory for the visitors which lifted them above Somerville into third place in State 4 South.
Baxter had the better of the early exchanges with a Keegan Myatt shot and a Jack Elliott header going close.
Somerville replied with a Conor Mcfall shot that flashed across the face of goal in the 10th minute.
Baxter coach Stephen Fisher was forced into a defensive reshuffle after 33 minutes when Brodie Jones limped off and was replaced by Izaak Barr.
Six minutes later the visitors took the lead.
Aleks Dukic sent Myatt clear on the left and he calmly slotted the ball past Somerville keeper Nick Bucello.
The home side threw more men forward in the second half but Baxter handled everything that was thrown at it.
Baxter keeper Jarrod Nardino parried a firm shot on the turn from Marcus Anastasiou in the 61st minute and a minute later Tom Simmons looked to be offside as he broke clear on the right but struck his angled shot across Nardino and wide of the far post.
Injury forced Noah Green to be replaced by Robbie O’Toole in the 64th minute and four minutes later O’Toole made it 2-0.
Slick interpassing down the left ended with Myatt passing to O’Toole whose low shot beat a diving Bucello at the near post.
Somerville had difficulty prising open the Baxter defence and the result was already beyond doubt when Myatt nabbed his second goal deep into injury time.
Bucello’s day didn’t improve when he slipped allowing Myatt to win possession then strike the ball into the unguarded goal.
The clash was live streamed with Baxter supplying the equipment and knowhow and Steve Smith and Baxter president Bray Hodgkinson commentating with Pines coach Taylor providing special comments in the second half.
Both Baxter and Somerville remain in pursuit of second-placed Sandringham in the expectation that a promotion play-off will take place for a spot in State 3 South-East next season.
NEXT WEEK’S GAMES
Friday 11 August, 8.15pm:
Werribee City v Langwarrin, Galvin Park Reserve
Friday 11 August, 8.30pm:
Collingwood City v Mornington, Kevin Bartlett Reserve
Doncaster Rovers v Skye, Anderson Park
Chelsea v Somerville Eagles, Edithvale Recreation Reserve
Saturday 12 August, 3pm:
Peninsula Strikers v Knox City, Centenary Park
Baxter v Noble Park, Baxter Park
Aspendale v Seaford Utd, Aspendale Gardens Sports Ground
Mentone v Mount Martha, Mentone Grammar Playing Fields
Bunyip District v Rosebud, Bunyip Recreation Reserve
Hampton Park Utd v Mount Eliza, KM Reedy Reserve
Saturday 12 August, 7pm:
Frankston Pines v Berwick City, Monterey Reserve