FRANKSTON Pines combined pace with a slick counter-attacking style to overrun Peninsula Strikers 5-2 in Saturday’s State 2 South-East derby at Centenary Park.
Strikers started on a positive note and in the 6th minute a cross from Tommy Hawkins on the right set up Ryan Thompson whose shot was parried for a corner by Pines’ keeper Jarrod Nardino.
Two minutes later Pines ruthlessly exposed the lack of pace in the Strikers’ defence when CJ Hodgson sent Mitch Lander clear through the middle and his left-foot strike from the edge of the area flew past advancing Strikers’ keeper Ash Kupre to make it 1-0.
The home team’s defence was found wanting again in the 14th minute when it failed to deal with a long throw from the left and when Pines’ captain Graham Hill was tripped inside the box referee Manny Haractsis pointed to the spot.
Hodgson had no problem converting and Strikers were staring into the abyss.
Pines were forced into a reshuffle in the 28th minute when Luca Vanni had to be replaced by big Ioasa Saemo who joined Lander up front with Hill reverting to central defence.
Strikers hit back in the 34th minute when Pines’ defenders failed to attack a Danny Brookes cross from the left and Thompson was at the back post to sidefoot home.
Lander should have restored Pines’ two-goal cushion four minutes later but his close-range effort was blocked.
In the 41st minute Chapman came off second best in a clash with Saemo which incensed Strikers’ bench but appeals to the nearby assistant referee to become involved fell on deaf ears.
Saemo was booked and Chapman had to be replaced at half-time by Kevin Derry.
In the 56th minute Lander again motored onto a pinpoint Hodgson through ball only to blast his attempt high and wide.
Three minutes later Strikers’ central defender Michael Nugent headed wide from a Ryan Wilson free-kick from the right.
In the 61st minute Brookes switched play to the right with a superb pass and Nathan Smith showed great control to bring the ball down as he charged into the area but his low shot flashed wide of the far post.
A minute later it was 3-1 after Jack Carter sent Lander down the left and his cutback was knocked in by Saemo from point-blank range.
Kupre was injured in the process but after a lengthy treatment period was able to continue which was just as well as there was no back-up keeper on the bench.
In the 72nd minute Steve McClelland took too long to clear allowing Lander to block then tuck away the rebound to make it 4-1.
A brilliant break in the 84th minute was triggered by Kurt Wagner-Goldsworthy who sent Hodgson clear on the right and his low cross in behind the defensive line was slammed in by Saemo to make it 5-1.
In the 91st minute Wilson did well on the left of the area and his cutback found Thompson who was brought down.
Wilson converted the resultant penalty to round off the scoreline.
When the final whistle sounded it confirmed what we’d all known for some time – there was only one team out there that was prepared to meet the physical and mental demands of a derby.
The other team received a scathing assessment of its performance from coach Lenny Greenan in a hushed Strikers’ dressing room straight after the match.
Femi Orenuga’s association with the club has ended due to visa problems.
It’s believed that the former Everton academy striker has been sent back to the UK by Australian authorities.
Although Strikers are now five points behind Pines in the race to avoid the drop there is some good news at Centenary Park.
The club hopes to sign two players from South Melbourne’s NPL under-20s squad and another two from State 1 South-East outfit Morwell Pegasus this week.
Meanwhile Pines’ defender Luke Murray dismissed last week’s report that linked him with a switch to Seaford United but it’s believed that Somerville Eagles are keen to sign Pines’ playmaker Will O’Brien to bolster their promotion push in State 5 South.
In NPLW news local consortium Southern United lost 5-0 to Heidelberg United at Monterey Reserve on Sunday but made its more fancied opponent work every inch of the way.
Southern continued its player development policy with two 16-year-olds, Sarah Tebbutt and Niamh Mclure, making their senior debuts in defence.
Hong Kong international Avery Lau leaves in early July to prepare for the Asian Games.
Southern gaffer Aaron Myatt is keen to bring in a striker and a central defender before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month.
He has been tracking a US striker currently playing in Sweden and Southern is investigating the possibilities of arranging a visa for her.
Southern’s under-12s recorded their biggest win of the season with a resounding 11-1 result.
Southern’s goals came from Emilia Ingles (4), Lauren Riha (2), Jasmine Smith (2), Eden McKeown (2) and Chiara Renzella.
The under-14s continued their title tilt with a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Candy Kilderry, Rhianna Cousens and Rhys McKenna.
The under-16s won 4-2 with Monique Lapenta (2), Haylea Porter and Briana Dias scoring for Southern while the under 19s lost 5-0 and featured a number of players from the under-14 group.
In NPL2 news Langwarrin lost 1-0 at home to Box Hill United last Saturday.
Attacking midfielder Mehdi Sarwari made his debut for Langy but former Melbourne Victory midfielder Callum Goulding has quit the club and is set to sign with another NPL outfit.
Langy had the best of the chances in the first half but Box Hill keeper Matt Nemes was in fine form denying Liam Baxter, Matt Luak and John Kuol.
Two minutes into the second half the visitors struck in a lightning-quick break that proved to be the decisive moment of the contest.
Anthony Rizk motored clear on the left and his far-post cross picked out the unmarked Andrew Le Page whose low first-time volley gave Langy keeper Robbie Acs no chance.
Box Hill proved to be tough to break down for the rest of the match while maintaining a threat on the break.
Langy is considering whether or not to add to its senior squad and a decision is imminent given that the NPL transfer window shuts this week.
In State 3 South-East news Skye United dropped to third after Brighton defeated Seaford United 2-0 at Dendy Park last weekend thanks to an 18th-minute goal from David Nicholas and an injury-time second from Nick Bale.
With Boroondara-Carey easily accounting for Collingwood in the other catch-up match Skye now is two points off the pace.
Skye should learn the extent of the recent knee injury to captain Marcus Collier this week while defender Saj Sugrim has joined Endeavour United.
In State 4 South news Baxter has lost midfielder Matt Morgan to Hampton Park United while striker Liam Kilner has quit citing work reasons.
But Baxter head coach Francis Beck is buoyed by the anticipated influx of five newcomers from local clubs and they are all expected to train at Baxter Park this week.
Next weekend’s games:
SATURDAY 3pm: Langwarrin v Ballarat City (Lawton Park), Geelong Galaxy Utd v Southern Utd (Banyul Warri Reserve), Malvern City v Mornington (Kooyong Park), Peninsula Strikers v Mazenod (Centenary Park), Frankston Pines v Doncaster Rovers (Monterey Reserve), Brighton v Skye Utd (Dendy Park), Seaford Utd v Noble Park Utd (North Seaford Reserve), Springvale City v Baxter (Ross Reserve), Somerville Eagles v White Star Dandenong (Somerville Secondary College), Aspendale v Bunyip District (Jack Grut Reserve).