GIPPSLAND SOCCER LEAGUE
RELATED COVERAGE: New Devil gets his due
Moe v Monash
CROSS-town rivals Moe and Monash faced off in a grudge match to begin their Gippsland Soccer League campaigns on Sunday, in a feud exacerbated by former Wolves talisman Ash Birrell’s move to the Red Devils.
Both teams came firing out of the blocks and Moe managed to earn a penalty within the first 20 minutes.
Matt Shearing was clean through on goal only to be brought down by Trent Felici inside the box, who saw yellow for the challenge.
Red Devils coach Lee Dastey stepped up to take the dot shot but missed the target, following a similar failure late last year.
Just 35 minutes in Felici earned a second yellow card, and his marching orders, for a late tackle on Birrell but Monash got organised behind the ball to see out the half without conceding.
The Wolves began to frustrate Moe in the second half but the Devils kept plugging away, after having two shots smash the crossbar, and eventually snatched an 80th minute goal through Shearing.
Monash began to flood forward and Shearing took advantage to tee up Kevin O’Farrell for a second, as Moe claimed the spoils 2-0.
Red Devils coach Lee Dastey said it was a perfect start to the season.
“We put ourselves under a bit of pressure not getting the early goal, but to get a win round one away to Monash I’ll take it any way, I was quite happy with the result in the end,” he said.
Sale v Traralgon City
Sale United began brightly with a 1-0 triumph over a Traralgon City side flush with new faces, speed and youth.
While the scoreline was close the Swans were never really troubled in their defensive third and continued their unbeaten streak at home with another clean sheet.
The first half saw Sale pin City in their own half as the Roosters, still coming to terms with a new structure focused on playing out from the back, had numerous issues down the right flank and were lucky to go into the break nil-all.
The second half continued along the same lines and the Swans drew first blood when City’s goalkeeper could not hold on to a thunderous free kick from defensive stalwart Robbie Stephen, and the rebound was finished neatly by new signing Slade Whitfield.
City mounted a spirited offensive effort but was unable to break through last year’s best defence.
Sale kept the pressure on until the last 10 minutes when it shut up shop and played possession to run the clock down.
Despite dropping the points, City showed it would be a handful for all comers in 2014.
Fortuna v Olympians
Fortuna 60 started the season on the right foot with wins to all four sides. The club had momentum on its side after winning the women’s, reserves and youth fixtures, and the seniors continued the streak in a tight encounter with Olympians.
After pressing hard early, Olympians were forced to defend throughout much of the first half against an aggressive Fortuna outfit, as both sides went scoreless to the break.
Fortuna fired several shots on target but keeper Ben Johnstone was up to the task, making countless stunning stops.
The second half was tight with Fortuna still attacking but unable to break through the defence.
On 70 minutes Hayden Tanti turned two defenders and his left foot shot from outside the box cannoned toward goal, but Johnstone was again equal to it – getting a finger on it to deflect the strike into the crossbar.
Five minutes later Olympians caught Fortuna napping and a great strike on goal was well saved by Justin Kosakiewicz, but his rebound fell straight into the path of young Mitchell Pryce who calmly put the visitor ahead 1-0.
Fortuna then picked up the pace and a well placed corner found captain Mauro De Luca who drew scores level.
Two goals in five minutes to Tanti sealed the result for Fortuna 3-1.
Churchill v Tyers
A double to Taylor Jackson helped Churchill to a 5-1 drubbing of Tyers.
Goals from Matthew Maselli, Tim Dawson and Mitchell Jackson put the result beyond doubt for the Rams, who came out firing from the first whistle.
Braydon Bates managed a consolation goal for the home side in a tough day out for the Lightning.
Morwell Pegasus v Falcons 2000
Pegasus took heart from its 1-0 loss on return to the central division and proved it was up to the challenge of Gippsland’s top level.
Falcons was unable to break Pegasus down, with the only goal coming from the penalty spot off the boot of Jesse Kennedy early in the piece.
Airali Ismail has the trappings of greatness up front in a side that will only improve as the year progresses.