SKYE United hammered Whitehorse United 5-0 away from home last weekend and leapfrogged its opponent into second spot in State 3 South-East.
Skye midfielder Mark O’Connor was suspended and recent recruit Alex Rojas made his first start for the club.
Skye’s bench was boosted by the returns of Jack Gallagher from overseas and Maxim Avram from injury.
The visitors controlled the opening exchanges but chances went begging for Mitch Blake and Daniel Attard.
This nearly proved costly but Skye had Jonathan Crook to thank as he kept the hosts at bay for the remainder of the half and on the stroke of half-time a fine cross from Jason Nowakowski saw a clever looping header from Blake put the visitors ahead against the run of play.
The second half was a completely different story as Skye’s forward pressure took its toll on the Whitehorse defence.
In the 62nd minute another Nowakowski assist enabled Blake to break the defensive line to make it 2-0 and six minutes later he had his hat-trick after Nowakowski cleverly played him in with a quickly taken free-kick.
Attard got in on the act in the 83rd minute as substitute Gallagher put him through and the big man curled it round Whitehorse goalkeeper Michael Van Eijk.
In the 89th minute Attard got his brace after being sent clear by substitute Aaryn Rix to complete the rout.
“Our fitness has been a huge part of our success lately but that also comes with the desire and determination that these boys have,” Skye senior coach Phil McGuinness said.
“I think our biggest asset is the pressure we put our opponents under when they have the ball and we can do it for 90 minutes and that’s a massive credit to the hard work the lads have put in so far.”
Promotion has always been on the agenda for McGuinness and assistant Stephen Duffy.
“There’s still plenty of football to be played and some very good teams battling it out for the top two spots but if we end up being one of them I’ll be the happiest man in the southeast I think,” McGuinness added.
In other State 3 news Frankston Pines downed Monash Uni 3-0 at Monterey Reserve on Friday night.
Pines fashioned the best two chances of the first half but neither Travis Ernsdoerfer nor CJ Hodgson could capitalise.
That changed 10 minutes into the second half when a superb through ball by midfielder Nick Simmons sent Hodgson motoring down the left before chipping the ball across goal to Ernsdoerfer who chested down and drilled a half-volley past Monash keeper Alex Grantham.
Connor McAndrews’ floated cross from the right in the 73rd minute was met by a superbly timed Hodgson leap and a looping header that made it 2-0.
Bailey Atkinson came off the bench in the 75th minute and was only on the pitch for a few seconds when Kevin Brown sent him clear and Atkinson’s calm finish from 10 metres silenced the Monash coach and sealed the visitors’ fate.
In NPLW news Southern United’s home clash with Box Hill United was called off on Saturday due to the condition of the Monterey Reserve main pitch.
The previous night two matches involving co-tenant Frankston Pines had taken place (seniors and reserves) and prior to having the under-19 and senior fixtures called off Southern’s under-14s and under-16s had used the pitch.
However Pines’ under-15s played on the main pitch the following day.
Southern’s under-14s lost 4-1 with Eden McKeown scoring for the local side while the under-16s won 2-0 with both goals coming from Alex Jones, her second from the penalty spot.
In NPL2 news Langwarrin suffered a 2-0 away loss to Northcote last weekend with Anthony Rizk (8th minute) and Noah Mihailidis (62nd) scoring.
It’s been a miserable month for the Lawton Park side having picked up just one point in June but that could change dramatically with news that Scottish striker John Baird, 33, arrived in Melbourne on Sunday night.
Last season Baird was a playing assistant manager at Forfar Athletic and has also played for a host of Scottish clubs including Clyde, St Mirren, Dundee, Partick Thistle, Falkirk, Inverness Caley and Morton.
He joins Langy for a 10-match stint after being recommended by Socceroo Scott McDonald.
In State 1 news Mornington lost 3-2 away to Malvern City last weekend.
Josh Hine scored in the 8th minute for Mornington and the visitors had to wait until the 87th minute for their second, an own goal from Malvern defender Daniel Bowman.
Next weekend Mornington hosts title-chasing Doveton which slumped to a third straight defeat on Saturday going down 2-0 to St Kilda Celts.
In State 2 news Josh Calle has left Peninsula Strikers and signed for rival club Brandon Park.
Calle previously played with Langwarrin, Frankston Pines, Box Hill United, Dingley Stars and Knox City.
Strikers’ midfielder Grant Lane has been asked by the club to take a break from the game to deal with issues of pending fatherhood and work commitments.
Midfielder Alex Whyte joined Strikers from Langwarrin last week and made his debut as a 77th minute substitute in the club’s 2-1 away win over Old Scotch on Saturday.
Alpha Turay and Matt Harrington scored for Strikers.
In State 4 news Harry McCartney reports that Seaford’s come-from-behind 2-1 home win over Dandenong South last weekend was marred by controversy over the sending-off of Seaford player-coach Matt Morris-Thomas late in the match.
Lindurim Tairi put the visitors in front in the 8th minute but Mitch Lander levelled in the 19th minute when he beat the offside trap and rounded Dandenong keeper Gabriel Alfaro before slotting home from an acute angle.
In the 65th minute, Taulant Mane was given a straight red for a late, high, sliding challenge on Matt Schwellinger as Dandenong was showing signs of frustration due to the Seaford pressure.
The deadlock was broken in injury time when an Adam Martin cross was met at the back post by Dylan Waugh who headed home to make it 2-1.
Matt Schwellinger dribbled past three opponents shortly after and was brought down 25 metres out directly in front.
Morris-Thomas had come off the bench in the second half and lined up next to Jack Carter to strike the free-kick. As they staggered their run-ups Morris-Thomas struck the ball into the top corner but it was disallowed and referee Sam Gerges gave the player-coach a second yellow card (apparently for time wasting) and sent him off.
Gerges then reversed the free-kick and awarded it to Dandenong.
The incident left most spectators bemused.
Baxter drew 1-1 with Chelsea on Saturday but came away from Edithvale Common bitterly disappointed at not collecting three points.
Daniel Vella put the home side in front after 10 minutes but Baxter hit back in the 22nd minute when Lawrence Komba went down the left then struck a superb cutback that presented the incoming Lewis Gibson with a tap-in.
In State 5 news Somerville Eagles smashed Endeavour Hills Fire 7-0 at Tyabb Central Reserve on Saturday and sent a clear message to league leader Old Mentonians that the title race is alive and well.
Old Mentonians’ away fixture against Aspendale Stingrays at Jack Grut Reserve last weekend was washed out leaving Somerville on equal points with the league leader who now has a game in hand.
The Eagles’ huge win was more meritorious as playing co-coach and scoring legend Dave Greening missed the match due to illness along with strike partner and leading scorer Mark Pagliarulo who was recovering from a calf injury.
But Saturday’s story revolved around 20-year-old Nathan Grimshaw who marked his first senior start with a four-goal haul.
Goals to Daniel Hodge, Grimshaw, a Ben Meiklem penalty and a quality Callum Richardson finish had the home side in cruise control at half-time.
Grimshaw added his second in the 55th minute after Meiklem had done well out wide then completed his hat-trick in the 74th minute with a clinical finish from a tight angle.
Four minutes later after good work by Michael Clark it was 7-0 when Grimshaw turned his marker and fired home from the edge of the box to round out a remarkable afternoon.
Rosebud won 2-0 at home to Bunyip District last weekend.
Ben Gamble converted from the penalty spot in the first half and Blake Hicks scored in the second half with a well struck shot on a tight angle after a poorly judged defensive header following a Chris Parry cross.
This weekend’s games:
SATURDAY, 3pm: Langwarrin v North Geelong (Lawton Park), Mornington v Doveton (Dallas Brooks Park), Berwick City v Peninsula Strikers (Jack Thomas Reserve), Skye Utd v Brighton (Skye Recreation Reserve), Bayside Argonauts v Frankston Pines (Shipston Reserve), Dandenong South v Baxter (Tatterson Park), Aspendale Stingrays v Pakenham Utd (Jack Grut Reserve), Tullamarine v Rosebud (Melrose Drive Reserve), Knox Utd v Somerville Eagles (Park Ridge Reserve).
SATURDAY, 7.30pm: Rowville Eagles v Seaford Utd (Park Ridge Reserve).
SUNDAY, 3pm: Heidelberg Utd v Southern Utd (Olympic Village).