Can Pines do it? You betcha!

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Punters’ pal: Frankston Pines and Fijian international striker Tito Vodawaqa (centre) torments two opponents in the local side’s 4-1 Cup win over Epping City last week as teammate Jordan Avraham (left) enjoys the moment. Picture: Darryl Kennedy

SOCCER

FRANKSTON Pines left online betting agencies reeling with a stunning 4-1 demolition of Epping City in their fourth round FFA Cup tie last Thursday night.

Bet 365 had a Pines’ win at $4.50 fixed odds on the morning of the clash between State 2 visitor Epping City and its State 3 host at Carrum Downs Recreation Reserve.

Those odds were snapped up by punters and tumbled throughout the day with Pines eventually starting a firm odds-on favourite.

At one stage rival online agency Sportsbet was forced to suspend betting on a Pines’ win.

Alex Roberts sent bookmakers scurrying for cover after just 12 minutes with a low drive from the right that went in off the far post.

But Pines keeper Aeseli Batikasa had a brain fade in the 24th minute when he came off his line to meet a free-kick and spilled the ball for an easy equaliser from Munashe Chagumaira.

Then Epping keeper Max Minuzzo returned the favour just before half-time when he failed to connect properly with a Jordan Avraham corner and Tito Vodawaqa tapped the ball in.

Two quickfire cautions in the second half saw Webster red carded in the 55th minute.

He was verbally abused by a section of Epping fans as he walked to the dressing room but less than an hour later those same fans were making a sorrowful and silent exit as they headed to the carpark.

Losing can be hard to take at the best of times but when you are outplayed and eventually humbled by 10 men from a lower league opponent it can make a long journey home much more painful.

Avraham’s audacious attempt from 30 metres in the 73rd minute struck the bar and went over but Pines kept pressing superbly and three minutes later Roberts got his second.

Epping defender Thomas Koutsouras couldn’t control the ball and Joe O’Connor nipped in and sent Roberts down the right.

Roberts cut inside his opponent then hit a low left-foot shot that beat Minuzzo at his near post to make it 3-1.

But the goal that sealed a horrible night for Epping was a Tito Vodawaqa master class in close control, dribbling skill, pace and cool finishing.

He stole possession with a dragback that left his first opponent bamboozled.

Now he had two defenders between him and Minuzzo but that wasn’t a problem.

He skipped past both of them as if they were training cones then drew Minuzzo and calmly slotted the ball into goal.

Game over. Humiliation complete.

On Saturday Mornington pulled off one of the upsets of round 4 of the FFA Cup with a 3-2 win against Box Hill United at Wembley Park.

This result was made more remarkable as the Seagulls sent out a young matchday squad to face their NPL3 opponent.

Taylor Davidson, Josh Heaton, Steve Elliott, Andy McIntyre, Andrew Goff, Mark Vengelli, Charlie Gunning, Luke Goulding, Sam Scott, Craig Smart, Matty Harrington, Josh Hine and Milos Lujic were either rested or recovering from injury.

For the record Mornington’s starting line-up included eight teenagers and in 4-3-3 formation it was:

Jerry Swift – Lachie Hogben, Jamie Davidson, Ben Hughes, Thanasi Matziaris – Ethan Goulding, Kyron Kerr, Wayne Gordon – Zach Hutchison, Tom Wood, Campbell Steedman.

And what a display this young side put on.

Seventeen-year-old Tom Wood opened the scoring in the 12th minute by volleying home the rebound after a Zac Hutchison shot struck the bar.

Conor McDonald made it 1-1 in the 39th minute but Wayne Gordon, who was captaining Mornington, restored the visitors’ lead in time added with a great break and finish to make it 2-1 at half-time.

Gordon’s curling left-foot strike made it 3-1 in the 74th minute but four minutes later Ethan Goulding was sent off.

Stuart Edgar made it 3-2 in the 84th minute and Mornington was forced into a rear-guard action for the final 10 minutes.

But with young keeper Jerry Swift in superb form the underdogs held on for a memorable win.

On Easter Friday at Mosaic Reserve an upset was on the cards after goals from Henrique Pimenta had home team Whittlesea United leading 2-0 against NPL2 side Langwarrin after just 24 minutes.

A lunging challenge on Tom Youngs from Whittlesea’s Musa Kamara earned a red card in the 53rd minute and nine minutes later Isaiah Joseph got clear in a one-on-one with Whittlesea keeper Frano Saric to trigger a Langy fightback.

George Howard converted from the spot in the 70th minute after Luke Burgess was fouled in the area and a stunning left-foot volley from Wayne Wallace in the 78th minute put Langy ahead for the first time.

Langy caught Whittlesea on the break in the 86th minute and although Saric did well to stop Young’s initial attempt he couldn’t stop him a second time as the visitors ran out 4-2 winners.

On Saturday a young Peninsula Strikers line-up bowed out of the Cup with a 6-0 loss to NPL2 outfit North Geelong Warriors.

North Geelong had gone into the clash a warm favourite given the different league status of these sides and by half-time led 3-0 with a Tom Hidic strike from a tight angle on the left, a glancing header from George Ellis and a low left-foot shot from Jamie Nogger after cutting inside from the right past teenage Strikers’ defender Cody Storton-French.

Second-half goals from Hidic, Yugi Kin and Luka Skoko rounded off the scoreline.

League action resumes this weekend and here are the round 3 fixtures:

SATURDAY, 3pm: Langwarrin v Moreland Zebras (Lawton Park), Mornington v Casey Comets (Dallas Brooks Park), Peninsula Strikers v Brandon Park (Centenary Park), Knox City v Skye Utd (Egan Lee Reserve), Ashburton Utd v Frankston Pines (Ashburton Park), Baxter v Chelsea (Baxter Park), Seaford Utd v Springvale City (North Seaford Reserve), Somerville Eagles v Endeavour Utd (Tyabb Central Reserve), Mount Martha v Casey Panthers (Civic Reserve).

SATURDAY, 8.30pm: Rosebud v Aspendale Stingrays (Olympic Park).

First published in the Frankston Times – 6 April 2021

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