PENINSULA Strikers have made their best start to a league season since 2016.
A revamped senior squad under new coach Donn Delaney relied on a 22nd minute Cooper Andrews shot from inside the area to record a 1-0 win over Old Scotch at Ballam Park on Saturday evening.
The result follows a 2-1 opening round win in what is Delaney’s first senior coaching job.
He was unavailable last weekend along with four players who all were forced to isolate.
“We’re a tight-knit group so handing the reins over to (reserves coaches) Steve Shephard and Jake Priest was easy,” Delaney said.
Strikers president Adrian Scialpi was delighted with the league campaign so far.
“These results are significant and it’s a really positive start considering we’ve got a senior team with an average age of just 22,” he said.
“This is the direction we wanted to go in and so far the boys have stepped up and are really responding to the challenge.”
However the weekend didn’t start well for local clubs with Langwarrin losing 3-1 away to Pascoe Vale in NPL2 on Friday while Frankston Pines had to settle for a 1-1 home draw with South Yarra on the same night.
Pascoe Vale broke the deadlock in the 35th minute when Mohamed Habib sent Terence Carter clear on the right of the area and he struck a firm shot past Langy debutant keeper Jake Richardson and inside the far post.
Richardson was a late replacement for Fraser Maclaren who was suffering from a severe migraine.
Six minutes later it was 1-1 after a slick interpassing move involving Tommy Youngs, Ryan Paczkowski and James Kelly with the latter finishing superbly from just outside the area.
The second half was a sorry affair for the visitors who went 2-1 behind in the 61st minute when Bilal Habib set up Mohamed Habib for a low left-foot shot from inside the area.
Langy right back Sammy Orritt was shown a straight red after dragging down Bilal Habib in the 87th minute and Aydin Mustedanagic’s fine free kick sealed Langy’s fate.
Pines played the majority of the South Yarra clash with 10 men after former club captain Graham Hill was shown a second yellow card and sent off just before half-time.
Aaran Currie scored direct from a corner in the 62nd minute but South Yarra substitute Jonathon Bithell levelled seven minutes later.
Pines’ left back Christian Malgioglio suffered a dislocated knee in the 85th minute and was stretchered off.
Malgioglio was due to see a specialist on Tuesday.
In State 1 Mornington sits on top of the ladder after a 4-0 away win over Warragul United last weekend.
The Seagulls took just six minutes to open their account when a fine long ball over the top by Sam Scott sent Josh Hine through.
Hine held off his defender then slotted the ball past advancing Warragul keeper Liam Andersen.
Hine struck again right on half-time when he again got onto the end of a through ball and rounded Andersen before tucking it away to make it 2-0.
The visitors went further ahead in the second half when a Danny Brooks corner to the back post was headed back across goal by Josh Heaton and substitute Tom Wood had no trouble slotting home his second goal in as many weeks.
An excellent Brooks through ball in the 88th minute sent John Maclean clear and although Andersen did well to save Maclean’s first attempt he was helpless as the former Langwarrin and Fitzroy City player made no mistake from the rebound.
In State 2 Skye United drew 1-1 away to Heatherton United last weekend but was stunned by a disallowed goal by referee Emanoyel Haractsis.
Ali Sanad had put the home side ahead in the 28th minute but Mitch Blake levelled 10 minutes later when Marcus Collier headed on for Blake to finish.
Controversy erupted in the 60th minute when Haractsis appeared to initially acknowledge that an Alex van Heerwarden header had crossed the goal line.
A consultation with the assistant referee ensued and play resumed with a dropped ball.
After the match images appeared on social media indicating that the ball had crossed the line which only added to Skye’s frustration over the incident.
In other news Baxter hopes to have Jack Buttery and Matt McDermott available for Saturday’s big State 4 derby against Somerville in Tyabb.
This is the first local derby of the season and Baxter’s senior squad has been hit with injury and unavailability in recent weeks.
Lawrence Komba was injured early in Baxter’s round 1 clash and will miss the Somerville game while Daniel Fernandez was sent off in that season opener and received a three-match suspension.
He pleaded guilty to the charge reducing his suspension by one match and as Baxter had a bye in round 2 Fernandez won’t be available until round 5.
Somerville goes into the clash at full strength.
“We’ve got great depth which presents a selection headache,” Somerville coach Lee Barber said.
“The lads are really looking forward to playing our first game at home where we have all agreed that this year it will be a fortress and we intend to make it tough for anyone who comes to Tyabb.”
Somerville went down 1-0 away to Sandown Lions on Saturday while Baxter had a bye after its opening round draw at home with Endeavour United.
There’s a healthy rivalry between these sides and the presence of former Somerville player-coach Dave Greening in Baxter colours adds to the anticipation of what should be a great contest.
In other State 4 news a second half collapse by visitor Chelsea enabled Endeavour United to swamp the local side 7-2 at Reema Reserve last weekend.
It was 2-2 at half time with William Ong scoring both Chelsea goals but a second-half hat-trick from Peter Yinka-Kehinde, including two goals in the first five minutes of the restart, proved too much for Carlo Melino’s outfit.
In State 5 normal service has been resumed as far as Mentone is concerned.
Two games, two wins and top of the league.
On Saturday Mentone demolished Bunyip District 5-1 at Mentone Grammar Playing Fields.
Bunyip’s cause wasn’t helped when Joel Witherdin was sent off in the 35th minute but Mentone had to wait until first-half injury time before hitting the target through Tyler Pollard.
Three minutes into the second half Wilhelm Rudzevecuis made it 2-0 when he headed home from a corner.
Bunyip’s Mark Comini scored from the penalty spot in the 70th minute but two minutes later Marcus Spivey restored the home side’s two-goal cushion after great work by Joe Dunbar.
James Hilton’s 89th minute penalty and a second for Spivey took care of business.
Aspendale Stingrays have made their best start yet to a State League season winning 3-1 away to Endeavour Hills last weekend.
A first-half penalty from Kieran Hughes saw both sides go in at the break tied at 1-1 but a second-half brace from Domenic Paul sealed the issue.
Mount Martha lost 1-0 to Barton United at Barton Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
Ethan Sanderson is expected to return to the matchday squad this weekend after injury.
Meanwhile the last three local clubs still in the 2022 Australia Cup are in action on Tuesday night in round 4 ties.
Langwarrin hosts Hume City at Lawton Park at 8pm, Frankston Pines hosts Clifton Hill at Carrum Downs Recreation Reserve at 8pm and Mornington is away to Altona East Phoenix at Paisley Park at 7.30pm.
Here are this weekend’s round 3 league fixtures:
FRIDAY: Frankston Pines v Monash Uni, Carrum Downs Recreation Reserve, 8.30pm; Monbulk Rangers v Skye Utd, Monbulk Regional Soccer Facility, 8.30pm.
SATURDAY: Langwarrin v North Geelong, Lawton Park, 3pm; Casey Comets v Mornington, Comets Stadium, 3pm; Brandon Park v Peninsula Strikers, Freeway Reserve, 3pm; Somerville v Baxter, Tyabb Central Reserve, 3pm; Chelsea BYE; Hampton Park Utd v Aspendale Stingrays, KM Reedy Reserve, 3pm; Endeavour Hills v Mentone, Power Reserve 3pm; Casey Panthers v Mount Martha, Prospect Hill Reserve, 3pm.