South Melbourne beat Oakleigh to bolster title charge
South Melbourne emerged victorious from the battle against Oakleigh, moving into pole position to win the premiership with just a handful of games remaining.
The league leaders narrowly beat their closest challengers in the 22nd round of the Victorian NPL to take a five-point lead with just four rounds to play, a lead that looks set to be too big to overturn.
Heidelberg United beat Hume City 3-2 at home on Sunday afternoon to level the score with fifth-placed Bentleigh and sixth-placed Green Gully trailing only on goal difference.
“Megas” took the lead after strikes from Sean Ellis (5′) and Eoin Ashton (76′) before Kaine Sheppard’s own goal (81′) brought Hume back into the game. Sheppard quickly made up for his mistake (89′) which proved vital as the visitors had a final impact on the match via Lachlan Weier (90+2′).
‘Hellas’ held on to record a 1-0 win at home against the Cannons on Saturday night, thanks to a second-half goal from Marcus Schroen (53′).
The win significantly boosts South Melbourne’s chances of finishing first, but manager Estaban Quintas stressed it could only be seen as another victory, albeit a crucial one for their ambitions.
“We haven’t achieved anything yet, only three important points against a direct rival… the players have executed our game plans in a terrific way. I’m proud of the boys,” Quintas told Neos Kosmos.
Port Melbourne were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to penultimate Dandenong City.
The Sharks took an early lead through Ross Archibald (7′) who was canceled by Nicholas Jordan Dib (63′) in what turned out to be the game’s final deciding moment.
Bentleigh fought back to earn a 2-2 away draw with Dandenong Thunder, although their top six prospects remain at risk.
Goals from Anthony Frangie (24′) and Harry Ascroft (29′) gave the hosts the advantage at the break when a brace from Ajak Riak (79′, 86′) allowed the Greens to escape with a dot.
NPL Victoria Scale
1-South Melbourne: 53
2-Guns Oakleigh: 48
Melbourne Sharks at 3 ports: 44
4-Avondale FC: 37
5-Bentleigh Greens: 36
6-Green Gallery: 36
7-Heidelberg United: 36
8-Dandenong Thunder: 29
9-Melbourne Knights: 26
10-Altona Magic: 23
11-St Albans: 23
12-City of Hume: 19
13-Dandenong City: 17
14-Eastern Lions: 6
New South Wales
Sydney Olympic picked up a vital 0-1 away victory over APIA Leichhardt in the 20th round on Sunday afternoon, moving up to third place on 35 points, which is still just three points ahead of seventh with two rounds remaining .
A strike early in the second half from Roy O’Donovan (48′) was enough for the travelers to triumph over one of their first four rivals, the Blues hope to use this result to propel themselves into the final.
In northern New South Wales, Newcastle Olympic beat Cooks Hill United 1-4 in their 19th round clash on Saturday afternoon, taking their tally to 21 points while remaining seventh.
Olympic FC lost 1-0 to Sunshine Coast Wanderers in their Matchday 11 catch-up game on Sunday night, thanks to a late effort from Kyren Walters (82′), to remain second with 33 points.
Floreat Athena beat Gwelup Croatia 1-4 away in the 17th round on Saturday night to take a three-point lead first, taking their tally to 36.
The home side first struck through Daniel Walsh (12′) before Athena recovered, scoring four times through Robert Petkov (27′), Laat Mathiang (71′), Bayley Brown-Montgomery (80′) and Ben Steele (89′).
Canberra Olympic lost 2-1 to Monaro Panthers away in the 13th round on Saturday night to stay fifth on 13 points.
Nikos Kalfas gave the Panthers the advantage on the half hour mark, the visitors equalizing through David Mccarron (41′), but it was a Darren Bailey penalty that sealed the victory (77′).
Olympia Warriors fought hard but were eventually beaten 2-1 away by Launceston in the 14th round on Saturday afternoon, suffering their 12th defeat this campaign as they remain seventh (also penultimate) with six points.