Let the State Leagues battle begin

The 2015 pre-season Casey, Frankston and Peninsula wrap by Craig MacKenzie.

By Craig MacKenzie

State League football is back with a bang, with major squad revamps and key imports dominating off-season preparations for some clubs in the Casey, Frankston and Peninsula region.

The ball will start rolling in earnest at White Eagles Stadium on Friday night, when Frankston Pines celebrate a return to Zagame's State League 1 when they take on home team Noble Park United.

Pines tuned up for this opener with a 5-1 Westfield FFA Cup win over previous cup giantkiller Kings Domain last weekend and coach Danny Verdun has signed 10 new players in the off-season.

The local club with the least player movement is Zagame's State League 5 South outfit Baxter followed by Zagame's State League 1 South-East’s Langwarrin.

Every player in Baxter’s 2015 first team squad was at the club last season while long-serving Langy gaffer Gus Macleod has welcomed just three newcomers to his squad.

Former Celtic, Hamilton Accies, Rochdale and Halifax striker Nathan Taylor was due to arrive this week to bolster Langy’s strike force, and hopefully ease the fall-out from the loss of marquee player Kevin Townson who returns to England on May 5.

Casey Comets has signed 13 new first team players including two English imports and midfielder Junsoo Park from the Philippines.

One of the English imports is 27-year-old defender or midfielder Adam Dunsford, signed from Civil Service FC.

His previous clubs were Hardwicke, Tuffley Rovers, Gloucester and Cheltenham.

Mornington has introduced well-travelled English striker Craig Nelthorpe to its first team squad.

Nelthorpe has played for over 20 clubs in a 10-year period, and if anyone is interested in the 27-year-old’s juggling skills with a tennis ball, google ‘Nelthorpe keepie-uppie’ for some light entertainment.

After an off-season of major upheaval including a mass player exodus, Peninsula Strikers named the largest first team squad of any local club in keeping with new coach Craig Lewis’s philosophy not to split the players into firsts and reserves.

“It sends a clear message to everyone that if they perform they can play at three o’clock,” Lewis said.

So far the Strikers' boss has signed close to 20 new players as he enters his first season at the coaching helm of his former club.

There are also two local newcomers to State League ranks in Rosebud Heart and Casey Panthers, and both will play in Zagame's State League 5 South.

Heart’s first round clash with East Bentleigh has been put on ice due to ground availability and the game will be contested in early July, but the Panthers make their bow on Saturday with a derby clash away to Baxter.

Here are the first team squads for 2015 (Casey Panthers and Skye United unavailable):

Baxter

Goalkeepers: Thomas Henderson, Scott Wells.
Defenders: Chris Bowen, Ben Deutscher, Dan Disseldorp, Owen Kilner, Bill Liapis, Oliver Pauliczek, Paul Swann.
Midfielders: Andrew Yeo, Francis Osei-Ntim, Jake Kidder, Rhett Gowans, Chris Disseldorp, Cameron Bullock, Alan Lipsett jnr.
Forwards: William Henshaw, Shaun Walker, Bryce Ingram, Rhys Wilson, Liam Kilner.

Casey Comets

Goalkeepers: Michael Sivulja (Noble Park), Feraz Zenoozi (Springvale White Eagles).
Defenders: Stuart McDonald, Thomas Brooks (South Springvale), Thomas Byrne (Doncaster), Adam Dunsford (Civil Service FC, England), Adam Ventieri (Peninsula Strikers).
Midfielders: Junsoo Park (Green Archers FC, Philippines), Peter Papadopoulos, Francois Armansin (Noble Park), Didier Imbert (Southern Stars), Navin Velupillay, Bryce Ziada, Brodie Paterson (St Albans).
Forwards: Liam Ryan (Doveton), Anthony Selemidis, Marce Janneker, Danny Jones (Whitehart FC, England), Vedran Tanasic (Springvale White Eagles).

Frankton Pines

Goalkeepers: Kris McEvoy, Jordan Marshall.
Defenders: Matthew Hodgson, Kyle Crawford, Aidan Verdun, Enes Sivic, Michael Hoogendyk (captain), Gavin Moon (Knox City), Phil Hawkins (Box Hill).
Midfielders: Paul McEvoy, Grant Lane, Nick Giannopoulos, Ross Robertson, Ilya Davidov (North Caulfield), Brad Blumenthal (North Caulfield), Jack Carter (Peninsula Strikers), Jordan Avraham Cakau (Peninsula Strikers).
Forwards: Christopher (CJ) Hodgson, Orlando Mejias (Berwick City), Matthew Hames (Peninsula Strikers), Ioasa (Yoss) Saemo (Doveton), Aleksandar (Aki) Dukic (Doveton).

Langwarrin

Goalkeepers: Robbie Acs (Casey Comets), Sean Skelly, Colin McCormick.
Defenders: Dylan Kilner, Alex Van Heerwaarden (captain), Ben Caffrey, Brett Heskins, Andy McIntyre, Ben Cullen.
Midfielders: Boris Ovcin, Mark O’Connor, Nick Thorogood, Oliver Moffat, John Guthrie.
Forwards: Caleb Nicholes, Koray Suat, Josh Calle, Nabil Mozaffaruddin, Kevin Townson, Paul Ryder (Noble Park), Nathan Taylor (Salford City, England).

Mornington

Goalkeepers: Liam Little (Otago), Harry Webber.
Defenders: Andy Skledar (South Springvale), Nathan Yole, Danny Black, Simon Webster, Steve Elliott (Eastbourne Town, England), Rob Ruffell, Steve Vernon, Chris McKenna, Tom Hawkins, Bailey Brown.
Midfielders: Scott Webster, Craig Smart, Craig Metcalfe (South Springvale), Ryan Davidson (FC Bendigo), Shane Tagliaferro, Lewis Tomlinson.
Forwards: Ryan Paczkowski, Wayne Gordon, Craig Nelthorpe (Harrogate Town, England).

Peninsula Strikers

Goalkeepers: Jason Giccominato (South Melbourne), Rhys Davies (Langwarrin).
Defenders: Marco Elhassan (Skye Utd), Adrian Pace (Chelsea), Conor Keeley (Mornington), Tasim Tairi, Daniel Richardson, Anthony Donaldson, Liam Duff.
Midfielders: Mark Szczesnowicz (Chelsea), Josh Vega, Lindrium Tairi (Dandenong South), Amir Ozmancevic (FK Sloga Kraljevo, Serbia), Ibraimi Ibraimi (Dandenong South), Ben Meilem (Mornington), Phil Greig (Mornington), Luke Presti, Seun Yinka-Kehinde (Endeavour Sporting Club), Ben Gamble (Rothwell Juniors FC, England), Joe Buccello, Sean Whipp, Josh Simmons, Aaron Vega, Hayden Taylor (Seaford Utd),
Forwards: Connor Zyskowski, Ali Osmani (Springvale City), George Wilson, Alex Hopson (Mornington).

Rosebud Heart

Goalkeepers: Neil Herd (Peninsula Strikers), Stuart Mitchell (Seaford Utd).
Defenders: Malcolm Mitchell (Seaford Utd), Matt Pearse (Seaford Utd), James McKenzie (Seaford Utd), Harry Chapman (Seaford Utd), Justin McLean.
Midfielders: Daniel Hodge (Seaford Utd), Johnny Watson (Seaford Utd), Callum Richardson, Carlo Cardozo (Seaford Utd), Stuart Pearson.
Forwards: Dave Greening (Seaford Utd), Matt Curd (Seaford Utd), Patrick Atkin (Rosebud).

Seaford United

Goalkeepers: Paul Digeorgio, Brad Klarenbeek.
Defenders: Billy Painting (Langwarrin), Chris Sibson, Daniel Walsh, Luke Murray (Peninsula Strikers), Marcus Collier (Skye Utd) Cameron Syratt, Jamie Baxter.
Midfielders: Kane Ireson, Paul McGuire (Skye Utd), Matthew Morris-Thomas, Marc Lo-Ngok.
Forwards: Josh Tsung, Stefan Soler, Li Nam Wang, Jack Edwards.

Round 1 Fixtures

Friday, 20 March, 8.30pm: Noble Park Utd v Frankston Pines (White Eagles Stadium).
Saturday, 21 March, 3pm: Casey Comets v Warragul Utd (Comets Stadium), Langwarrin v Malvern City (Lawton Park), Mornington v Clifton Hill (Dallas Brooks Park), Peninsula Strikers v Beaumaris (Centenary Park), Seaford Utd v Old Scotch (North Seaford Reserve), Lyndale Utd v Skye Utd (Lyndale Secondary College), Baxter v Casey Panthers (Baxter Park), Rosebud Heart v East Bentleigh (match moved to first catch-up round).

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