FFA Cup Round 3 Wrap South-East
Mixed Results For South-East Clubs In Westfield FFA Cup
By Craig MacKenzie
A nine-goal shootout at Monterey and a four-goal haul to new Comets striker Ryan Hughes were highlights of a thrilling Round 3 of the 2016 Westfield FFA Cup.
Frankston Pines hosted 2015 Zagame’s State League 1 North-West champion Western Suburbs at Monterey Reserve and went down 5-4 in a contest that had fans riveted to the action throughout.
Pines struck in the 15th and 23 minutes to have their more fancied opponent on the back foot.
First a Matty Hames turn and shot was parried by Suburbs keeper Johnny Scollo enabling CJ Hodgson to tap-in.
Then a Jack Wrobel cross from the left was headed home at the far post by Alvin Prasad to make it 2-0.
But poor judgement from young Pines keeper Hewad Safi allowed Deng Aguek of Suburbs to head home to make it 2-1 in the 25th minute.
Three minutes later the quicksilver Prasad had to come off with a hamstring injury but Pines restored a two-goal cushion in the 33rd minute when another Hames turn and shot was again parried by Scollo then tucked away by Hodgson on the follow-up.
Suburbs hit back in the 39th minute with a tap-in by Brazilian striker William Teixeira to make it 3-2 and the sides went in all square at the interval after Teixiera had made it 3-3 in the 44th minute.
Suburbs hit the front for the first time in the 56th minute when a cross from the right was met by Teixeira who completed his hat-trick with a superb header that gave Safi no chance.
This see-sawing contest continued to throw up chances to both sides which went begging until a mix-up between Nick Lekakis and Laeburn Stringer in the 83rd minute enabled Aguek to give Suburbs a 5-3 lead.
Two minutes later Hames lifted the ball over the advancing Scollo then struck it into an unguarded goal to complete the 5-4 scoreline.
The match ended on a sour note when Stringer and Aguek clashed and both were red carded.
“It was a cracker of a game and we take more positives than negatives out of this,” Pines senior coach Billy Rae said.
Most local pundits had written off Pines this year given the mass exodus from the first team squad triggered by coach Danny Verdun resigning late last season and exacerbated by the weeks that followed before the club named his successor.
But Rae and his coaching team have instilled self-belief in the new squad which is captained by Kyle Crawford and the fact that the team was able to stretch the classy Suburbs is a positive sign.
At Comets Stadium home fans were treated to a finishing master class from English import Hughes as Casey Comets came back from 2-0 down against Warragul United to eventually run out a 4-2 victor after extra time.
Comets’ failure to defend from two set pieces in the opening eight minutes proved costly with both goals coming from Adam Ahmadzai, the first a left-foot finish following a goalmouth scramble, the second a header from a corner.
The second half was a different affair and Comets created the most chances with former Gala Wilton striker Hughes scoring twice in the last 10 minutes of normal time to level the scores.
His equaliser came via the pace and skill of Liam Ryan who beat a defender out wide then struck a low ball across the box for Hughes to strike home.
Hughes notched his hat-trick five minutes into extra time with a fine turn inside the area and a shot into the left-hand corner of goal.
His fourth goal took the sting out of the contest and was a tap-in after Ryan had broken into a one-on-one with Warragul keeper Jake Richardson who could only parry and Hughes did the rest.
“We were poor in the first half but we sorted things out at half-time and we were a lot better after that,” Comets head coach Jamie Skelly said.
“But Warragul are a solid, hard-working team with a good midfield.
“They tell me they have a couple of boys to come back into the side so they’ll be a difficult team to beat this season.”
Langwarrin proved too strong for 2015 Zagame’s State League 2 South-East champion Berwick City and ran out a deserved 4-2 winner at Lawton Park.
Langy has strengthened its line-up with Grant Lane crossing from Frankston Pines and English import Sam Scott joining him in centre midfield.
There is an aggressive edge to these newcomers and long-serving Langy coach Gus Macleod will be hoping that they remain disciplined throughout the season as both are fiery characters and have brought a new dimension to the team.
Injury and unavailability forced Macleod to patch together a defensive line for this FFA Cup clash with senior keeper Robbie Acs attending a wedding while central defensive pairing Alex Van Heerwarden and former Pines captain Michael Hoogendyk were sidelined through injury along with forwards Koray Suat and Nabil Mozaffaruddin.
Teenage goalkeeper James Foster was thrown in at the deep end and he had a fine match with one exception in the second half when he came off his line but failed to reach the ball.
Lane opened the scoring against his former club in the 13th minute after Nick Thorogood’s low cross from the right was parried by Berwick keeper Christian Morales into the midfielder’s path.
In Ricardo Gonzalez, Orlando Mejias, Ali Sanad and Ashley Savanah, Berwick has talented players with quick feet and close control yet they were unable to ask enough serious questions of the home team’s defence where Andy McIntyre and Dylan Kilner were in central roles with Kurt Wagner-Goldsworthy and Boris Ovcin at right back and left back respectively.
Caleb Nicholes appeared to have made it 2-0 in the 42nd minute with a back post tap-in after an excellent turn and cross from Josh Calle but referee Hary Milas consulted his assistant then awarded a free kick to the now beleaguered Berwick defence.
Langy grabbed a two-goal cushion in the 58th minute following a superb long ball from John Guthrie to Nicholes who cut inside his opponent inside the area then hammered a low left-foot shot into the far corner of the Berwick goal.
Langy’s failure to clear following a corner in the 65th minute saw Mejias finish in style with a firm strike past Foster to make it 2-1 and it was game on.
For two minutes at least.
Thorogood had ruled the roost down the right throughout this contest and his pinpoint long pass to the left of the Berwick area picked out Calle who struck a low left-foot shot past Morales from close range to make it 3-1.
Ex-Langy player Steve Vernon had come off the bench for Berwick and he hammered home a blocked shot inside the Langy area in the 75th minute to make it 3-2.
Before the restart Sanad clashed with Thorogood and was sent off and the contest was over four minutes later when Scott stole the ball in midfield then smacked a thumping low drive from outside the area that gave Morales no chance.
North Sunshine Eagles and Mornington had to wait until the 89th minute to break the deadlock in their Cup clash at George Andrews Reserve and it was the Eagles that ran out a 1-0 winner.
One of the clearest-cut chances of this clash came after just four minutes but Mornington’s attacking midfielder Shane Tagliaferro did the difficult thing by heading over from a few metres with the goal at his mercy.
In the 22nd minute Eagles winger Diellon Memishi surged past three opponents down the right and went to ground inside the Mornington area.
Referee Michael Mammis had a crucial decision to give and he ignored penalty appeals and booked Memishi for simulation.
In the off-season Mornington had clinched the signatures of the McEvoy brothers, Kris and Paul, from Pines and it was the latter who struck the near post with a low shot in the 28th minute and eight minutes later a fine turn and low shot by Tagliaferro was blocked by the feet of Eagles keeper Frano Saric.
The private contest between Tagliaferro and Saric continued in the second half when the Eagles custodian got a hand down low to a Tagliaferro shot to keep his side in the contest.
Another feature of the second period was the decision by Eagles senior coach Arben Isai to switch Memishi to the left wing where he was confronted by Nathan Yole who is no slouch and made life hard for the lightning-quick winger.
The last few minutes were hectic and took fans on a rollercoaster ride.
In the 88th minute Nick Cullen broke on the right then struck a low ball to the far post where Memishi’s shot was touched out for a corner.
Then came the decisive moment in this combative encounter when the ball rebounded to substitute Miles Shannon inside the area and his low drive beat Kris McEvoy in the Mornington goal.
The final chance of an entertaining match fell to Mornington veteran Nick Waite but his half-volley from the left of the area in the 91st minute sailed just wide.
Peninsula Strikers enjoyed a free ride into the 4th round of the Cup when opponent Upfield had to withdraw from the competition.