Sharks cruise to final
Port Melbourne 5-1 Sunshine George Cross
Port Melbourne has reached the State Knockout Cup Final after a 5-1 thrashing of Sunshine George Cross in the Semi Final at Olympic Village on Tuesday night.
Goals to Shane Gill and Alex Khrapko along with a hat-trick to Niclas Roenne secured the State League One side a fairytale clash with Victorian Premier League table-toppers Dandenong Thunder.
After the match, Port Melbourne Coach Eric Vassiliadis said the romantic cup final is a huge chance for the club to write their names into the history books.
“It’s a massive opportunity and a real credit to the football club,” said Vassiliadis.
“In some ways it’s a little bit romantic. We’ve got a lot of respect for what Dandenong have done in the last 12 months, so we’re looking forward to the challenge and in some ways we’ve got nothing to lose.
“We’re just going to go out there, try to enjoy ourselves but most importantly stick to our process and philosophy.”
Port Melbourne began the game as the more promising of the two teams with the side almost breaking the deadlock in the 20th minute when Johnny Sapasovski and Dennis Dasoul had shots cleared off the line.
Sunshine didn’t wait too long to create their own chance when Nicholas Xerri was at the end of a swift counter attack and forced Sharks goalkeeper Adam Herhorisin into a solid save.
However it was Port Melbourne who was able to break the deadlock when Roenne was found at the end of a long ball and put his strike to the goalkeeper’s right for the lead.
With a 1-0 lead at half time, Port Melbourne entered the second half looking to extend their lead and that’s what they did with Roenne finding the back of the net once again.
Despite conceding two goals, Sunshine goalkeeper Robert Santelli continued to be resilient in goals, making solid saves from Tim Paton and Alex Khrapko shots.
With less than 20 minutes left in the game, Gill all but ended Sunshine’s chances with a calmly placed finished after some good lead up play by Roenne.
To their credit, Sunshine did not stop fighting a pulled one back from a corner after Steve Martin smashed a header into the back of the net.
However Roenne denied George Cross of any chance when he hit an absolute stunner into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area for his hat-trick.
Port Melbourne’s final goal came through substitute Khrapko in injury time.
Despite the side’s disappointing exit from the State Knockout Cup, Sunshine George Cross Coach Tony Ciantar said it was a positive that younger players have stepped up throughout the season.
“We’re obviously not performing well in the league and that momentum has come into today’s effort,” said Ciantar.
“We haven’t got a deep squad, a lot of the younger boys have had to step up, which is great, and they’re the future of the club.”
Port Melbourne will now contest the Grand Final against Dandenong Thunder who defeated Heidelberg United in the other Semi Final.
Port Melbourne Sharks: Adam HREHORISIN (Anthony SARIC 80’), Martin MASON, Felix ROSMAN, Peter ROBERTS, Shane GILL (Dylan Murnane73’), Denis DASOUL, Tony OULIARIS (Paul MILLER 74’), Tim PATON, John SAPASOVSKI (Alex KHRAPKO 54’), Niclas ROENNE, Andres SIMONSEN.
Goals: Roenne 25’ 46’ 79’, Gill 73’, Khrapko 90’.
Yellow cards: Simonsen 36’, Ouliaris 54’.
Sunshine George Cross: Robert SANTILLI (Christopher XERRI 84’), Heo WOOKBUM (Kieran FARRUGIA 74’), Barry Devlin, Stefan BARICEVIC (Justin JUSTIN 74’), Leo SHIN, Nicholas SCERRI (Daniel HANNA 74’), Habib FLEIFEL, Steve MARTIN, Jaun KIM, Zeljko POPOVIC (Eduardo SAORES 69’).
Goal: Martin 76’.