FRANKSTON Pines remain hopeful of escaping relegation from State 2 South-East despite finishing second bottom after last weekend’s final league round.
Goals from Tom Hawkins and Joe O’Connor weren’t enough to overcome second-placed Brandon Park and Pines had to settle for a 2-2 draw at Freeway Reserve on Saturday.
The 2023 rules of competition make grim reading for Pines but all promotion and relegation is at the discretion of Football Victoria and a number of scenarios are yet to be played out.
“No-one really knows what lies ahead,” Pines head coach Kevin “Squizzy” Taylor said.
Rumours abound of a second-tier national club competition getting underway next season and this has the potential to impact the current league set-up throughout the NPL and State Leagues.
Taylor reflected on a season of missed opportunity and wouldn’t be drawn on speculation surrounding his future at Monterey Reserve.
“I just want to say that I’m very proud of the way the lads battled till the final whistle on the last day of the season,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that ultimately we had to rely on results elsewhere.
“On reflection we had ample opportunities to win or at least draw games that would have made us safe, but it just wasn’t to be.”
On a positive note Pines’ All Abilities program is now the largest in the state with 50 registered players.
The program entered three teams this year and won all three competitions.
In other State 2 news Peninsula Strikers may have missed out on promotion but the local club was still celebrating after its reserves won the championship with a 1-1 draw against title challenger Hampton East Brighton at Dendy Park on Saturday.
The match was the 100th and final appearance for club stalwart Michael Nugent who debuted for Strikers in 2017.
Strikers’ seniors had a come-from-behind 3-2 win to finish fifth on the ladder.
But failure to defend two set pieces had Strikers 2-0 down in the first half-hour.
The fightback started with a well-worked move in the 35th minute that saw Wayne Gordon whip in a ball for Riley Anderton to smash home on the volley.
A Jamie Davidson bullet header from a Gordon corner in the 55th minute made it 2-2 and Anderton nabbed the winner in the 88th minute by converting a penalty for handling inside the area.
But it took a penalty save by Strikers’ keeper Ben Caballero in the final minute to seal the win.
Skye United’s State 2 status remained intact after Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Knox City.
Mark O’Connor’s precise first half free-kick found Alex Van Heerwarden sliding in and prodding the ball home at the back post.
In State 1 Mornington and champion FC Melbourne drew 1-1 at Dallas Brooks Park on Saturday.
Mornington led at half-time thanks to top scorer Rory Currie.
In the 40th minute the ball fell to him after good work down the right by Liam Quinn and Currie swivelled and buried a right-foot strike into the top corner.
The visitors hit back in the 50th minute with a wonder strike from their best player Marko Basic.
Mornington hit the post and the bar late in the contest but couldn’t break the deadlock.
In State 4 Baxter’s spectacular 8-1 thumping of visitor Springvale City on Saturday wasn’t enough to win a second-spot finish and a promotion play-off as Sandringham beat Somerville Eagles 4-2 at Spring Street Oval.
A Jack Elliott hat-trick underpinned this huge win.
Brodie Taylor played in a more attacking role and opened the scoring in the 3rd minute heading home from a Keegan Myatt corner.
By the 16-minute mark it was 4-0 and game over.
Elliott put Myatt through for 2-0, Elliott hit a superb long-range shot into the top far corner for the third and Jarrod Nardino’s long bomb downfield put Dylan Murchie through and he neatly lifted the ball over Springvale keeper Sammy Salah for the fourth goal.
An Elliott cross in the 32nd minute wasn’t cleared and Myatt on the turn hammered the ball home and a minute later the woeful Springvale defence gifted Murchie with his second.
Five minutes into the second half Myatt put Elliott through and he headed the ball past stranded Salah then tapped it into the unguarded goal for 7-0.
Elliott completed his hat-trick in the 70th minute with a headed goal and the visitors’ sole reply came from the penalty spot four minutes later.
Baxter head coach Stephen Fisher will speak to the club and his players over the next few days before making a decision regarding his tenure.
Somerville head coach Adam Steele was suspended so Brandt Mulholland was in charge against Sandringham.
Sandy dominated the first half and led 3-0 at the break but Somerville hit back in the second half with goals from Nick Simmons and a Marcus Anastasiou penalty.
Somerville keeper Nick Bucello saved a Sandringham penalty but was beaten in the 79th minute after Josh Simmons failed to clear and his sliced attempt fell to Sandy winger Sam Ghobrial who gave the home side breathing space again.
Somerville reserves finished off their championship-winning season with a 6-2 win.
Carlo Melino’s curtain call as Chelsea coach ended with a 3-0 away loss to champion side White Star Dandenong on Saturday.
“It was an emotional day,” Melino said.
“I think I’ve left the club in a better state than when I arrived and I think we’ve been able to build a proper senior team and a culture that can have an impact for years to come.”
In State 5 local clubs marked significant landmarks with Mentone finishing runner-up and clinching promotion, Seaford United earning a promotion play-off spot with a third-placed finish and Rosebud, Aspendale and Mount Martha amassing their biggest ever State League points tally.
A depleted Mentone earned a credible point in a 1-1 draw with runaway champions Hampton Park United at Mentone Grammar Sportsground with both goals coming in the first half.
Hampton led after five minutes when Joshua Caruana robbed Tyler Pollard and ran unchallenged to finish past Mentone custodian Quinn Carter.
However Marcus Spivey equalised on 30 minutes bustling past two Hampton defenders before drilling a low shot into the net.
Rosebud beat visitor Mount Eliza 3-1 in a tight contest at Olympic Park on Saturday.
Noah Musso, Louis Bisogni and Davis Markulin scored for the home side while David Popa hit the mark for Mount Eliza.
Musso’s goal clinched league Golden Boot honours for the young striker.
A much improved second half display enabled Mount Martha to fight back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with visitors Casey Panthers on Saturday.
Anton Beeby made it 2-1 in the 46th minute after being set-up by Finn Tweedie’s driving run through midfield.
Eli Masterson came off the bench to smash home a fine finish just inside the box in the 64th minute following a great run down the left wing by Jaden Tabener.
Aspendale’s season ended with a 5-1 away loss to Bunyip District last weekend with Kailan Smith scoring for Aspendale.
Seaford United had a bye in the final round but will face Old Melburnians in a promotion play-off.
The date, venue and kick-off time was being finalised as we went to press.