Sandy slows Pines’ push, Morrison quits Baxter
Fortnightly Frankston area wrap by Craig MacKenzie
Frankston Pines and Sandringham may have blown their Provisional One promotion chances on Saturday but their 1-1 draw at Monterey Reserve was a glowing endorsement of grassroots football.
The home side had barely settled into stride when Sandringham struck after a superb interpassing move ended with a low 20-metre strike from Tommy Fitzpatrick that rocketed past Pines goalkeeper Kris McEvoy.
Pines gradually worked their way back into the contest but found chances few and far between for the remainder of the half.
The home side levelled in the 64th minute after quick thinking by Nick Giannopoulos caught Sandringham’s central defenders out of position.
Giannopoulos’s throw-in went to the feet of young Pines striker Chris Hodgson and in the blink of an eye he’d turned and slotted the ball expertly past keeper Eddie Chadwick in the Sandy goal.
Game on and with Pines central defender Anthony Edgar posing a threat from set pieces a gripping battle unfolded.
But Sandringham refused to budge in a free-flowing, nail-biting contest that produced six one-on-ones in the last 10 minutes and sent both sets of fans on an emotional rollercoaster.
Great work down the left and a superb cross set up Sandy substitute Cameron Martini but he allowed McEvoy to smother then gather the ball at his feet.
At the other end Chris Hodgson (whose older brother Mathew had come on as a substitute) could have notched a hat-trick but strangely blew two gilt-edged chances from dead in front.
One of the final acts of this enthralling battle saw Sandy’s Sean Lally race clear only to balloon his attempt and let Pines off the hook.
Pines have now gone 13 games in a row without defeat and the on-field and off-field revival of the club in 2012 has been remarkable following four successive relegations.
Langwarrin all but assured itself of survival in State League Two with a 2-1 win over Doncaster Rovers at Lawton Park on Saturday.
Langy’s third straight victory came courtesy of a Caleb Nicholes strike in the first half and a back post header from Neil Sullivan in the second period which gave the home side a two-goal cushion.
Sullivan’s own goal minutes later rounded off the scoreline.
Langwarrin could play a crucial role in deciding the title race as its last three games are against Morwell Pegasus, Malvern City and Box Hill United.
Peninsula Strikers went down 2-0 away to relegation threatened Knox City on Saturday.
“They took their chances and we didn’t. There wasn’t a lot in it,” said Strikers coach Jamie Skelly.
Knox had much more to play for and its fourth win of the season makes for an intriguing relegation battle over the last few rounds.
Seaford scored after 30 seconds away to Keysborough on Saturday and held on for a 1-0 win.
The home team lost the ball at the back and after Dave Greening’s shot struck the post Ted Ithier was on hand to knock in the rebound.
The result maintained Seaford’s promotion push and sets up a crucial clash at North Seaford Reserve this Saturday against Provisional Two promotion rival Endeavour United.
Seaford’s Kain Stratton and Matt Pearce have returned from the Asean Police Football Games and Luke Gale is available after suspension.
“On paper Endeavour probably is the best side in the league with the Durand brothers, Vinnie Bontemps and Reha Ulusoy but we beat them up at their place earlier in the season and we’ll have to beat them down here to stay in the hunt,” said Seaford coach Kevin “Squizzy” Taylor.
Skye United lost 4-3 away to Lyndale United, just the second time this season that the home team had claimed maximum points.
Daniel Attard, Matty Bruce and Adrian Busso were Skye’s scorers in a game that featured two penalties for Lyndale, a controversial third goal for the home team amid claims for offside and a strong handball appeal inside Lyndale’s penalty area in the dying moments that went unheeded.
“At the end of the day you have to say fair play to Lyndale because they have not had a lot go for them this season and they deserved a change of luck,” said Skye president Chris Attard.
Jim Morrison resigned last week as coach of Baxter and Alan Lipsett was in charge for the Provisional Three side’s 3-2 away win against Rowville Eagles on Saturday.
“Just say that we wanted to go in different directions,” said Morrison.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t finish out the season as the players have been great and I wish them every success in the future.
“That’s enough coaching for me. I’m taking up golf.”
Fixtures for rounds 20 and 21 (note that the weekend of 8/9 September is a catch-up round):
Saturday 1 September, 3pm: Morwell Pegasus v Langwarrin (Ronald Reserve), Peninsula Strikers v Heatherton Utd (Centenary Park), Frankston Pines v Mooroolbark (Monterey Reserve), Seaford Utd v Endeavour Utd (North Seaford Reserve), Skye Utd v Boroondara Eagles (Skye Recreational Reserve), Baxter v Old Brighton Grammarians (Baxter Park).
Saturday 15 September, 3pm: Langwarrin v Malvern City (Lawton Park), Frankston Pines v Croydon (Monterey Reserve), Bayside Argonauts v Seaford Utd (Shipston Reserve), Skye Utd v Old Carey (Skye Recreational Reserve).
Saturday 15 September 7pm: Eltham v Baxter (Eltham North Reserve).
Saturday 15 September 8pm: Old Scotch v Peninsula Strikers (Knox Regional Football Centre).