Churchill United remains the only undefeated team in the Gippsland Soccer League after a hard fought 1-0 victory over fellow title aspirants, Falcons 2000, in front of a large crowd on Saturday night.
Despite Falcons dominating general play, the Rams managed to hold on to secure the points and sit on top of the ladder a game clear of the Morwell club and fellow front runners Sale and Moe United.
Falcons made its intentions clear early as coach Nick D’Allesandro marshalled the midfield with the assistance of nimble performer Ram Tom D’Alia.
They were finding openings for strikers Jesse Kennedy and DJ Matar to exploit.
Against the run of play Churchill danger man Taylor Jackson pushed past the Falcons defence before his misplaced shot was innocuously parried into the goal after an attempted save from Falcons keeper Adam Brooker.
It was Brooker’s opposite number, Jason Sands, who proved the difference between the two sides after he made a series of saves as the Rams’ defence absorbed wave after wave of Falcons’ attacks.
Matar should have equalised prior to the break, but with the whole goal to aim at he kicked the ball straight at Sands.
In the second half Kennedy had the birds’ best chance when his shot from eight yards thundered against the cross bar.
Soon after Sands pulled a save from the top draw to deny a seemingly certain goal when at full stretch he tipped D’Allesandro’s shot around the post.
With five minutes to play D’Allesandro received a straight red card after a below-the-knee studs up tackle on Rams defender Mitch Jackson.
Falcons will now face Sale at home this Sunday without their influential coach and playmaker, while Churchill travels to Traralgon Olympians on Saturday night.
Sale v Monash
Sale took the three points in a tight affair at Godfrey Baldwin Reserve from a determined Monash side.
The Swans opened the scoring seven minutes into the game when Dean Nicholls made a bursting run down the right and crossed to Slade Whitfield, who blasted home from 12 yards.
The visitors managed to hit back minutes later after Sale could only clear a Monash corner to the top of the box where Marcus Krznaric fired home an unstoppable volley.
The game was end-to-end with both teams looking to play attacking football.
Tommy Nguyen then produced a piece of individual brilliance by weaving through the Monash defence and slotting beyond the on-rushing keeper to give Sale the lead.
Monash keeper Ross Johnson was forced from the field soon after, having suffered an injury in the challenge with the Sale striker.
Monash twice had chances to pull level in the second half.
Chad Shelley and Isaac Abbas combined well around the box before Shelley’s rasping drive was tipped around the post by Chris Richardson.
With 10 minutes remaining Monash had an even better chance when the ball fell to captain Trent Felici in the box, but he was unable to make good contact as Sale ran out winners.
Morwell Pegasus v Traralgon City
Morwell Pegasus hosted Traralgon City and with the Roosters drawing their past three matches they were hungry for the three points.
The game was played at a tough and fast pace with City defending well again as in previous matches.
The young team held tight and played the ball out well under the Pegasus pressure.
City struck first with a nice finish from Paul Storey to mark one up for City.
Paul Storey was subbed off in the 38th minute with a suspected broken ankle and was replaced with Iain Edger.
Another hard tackle in Pegasus’ box saw City give away a penalty, which the Horsemen converted to make it 1-1 at half-time.
The fast pace continued in the second half and it was Mark Bruzzese who found City’s second and final goal of the game.
Moe United v Newborough Yallourn United
Newborough Yallourn United ventured to Olympic Park to take on Moe United.
In an end-to-end battle both sides failed to make an impact inside the 18 yard box throughout the first half.
Moe’s best chance came through Marc McHallam, who forced a save from the keeper, but was unable to score.
Entering the second half Moe knew it had to look for more attacking chances.
Midway through the second half a scrappy clearance at the top of the 18 yard box by Newborough landed at the feet of Jake Heusmann, who was able to find the back of the net and put Moe in the lead.
A red card to Nick Dastey late in the half put the pressure back on the defence, which was able to cope and create a counter attack goal through Matt Shearing to seal a 2-0 victory.
Tyers v Fortuna 60
The match between Tyers and Fortuna started at a frantic rate with attacking drives from both sides for the first 15 minutes of play.
Fortuna missed a couple of early opportunities and there was some great counter attacking from Tyres.
Fortuna settled and scored the first goal on the 20-minute mark from Bryson Tanti, who was playing his first senior game.
Tyers drove the ball long and Shayne Pavich was dropped in the box for a penalty.
Jason Collins saved the penalty and Fortuna gained control of the rest of the half to score two more goals on the 42 and 44 minute mark to Josh and Hayden Tanti.
Fortuna brought on Matt Ross in the second half to strengthen the defence and preceded to control the game.
The Orangemen scored three more goals through Hayden and Josh Tanti and the last to Joel Pirotta.
The game ended 6-0.
Best on ground were Matt Ross, Bryson Tanti and Joel Pirotta.