FORTUNA v TRARALGON CITY
A GOAL by Tommy Nguyen 30 seconds into the second half of the round-two match gave Traralgon City a 1-0 lead in what had been a tense struggle between the evenly-matched teams.
Played in very windy conditions, the cross-wind made it difficult for both teams to accurately pass and shoot for goal.
Ray Allred and Nguyen, a double at Sale last season and now with the Roosters, provided a strong linking pair across the mid-field but they were thwarted by Fortuna’s Liam McCluskey and Oliver Spiteri who were tight across the back.
A good duel developed between Roosters striker DJ Matar and Fortuna defender Takudzwa Gwara with the honours about even.
Two strong strikes by Damon Scott and Matt Coward went wide for Fortuna as the wind played havoc.
At the break it was 0-0 but Nguyen’s strike at the resumption turned the game around.
Fortuna were down but still fighting hard and pressure was building as the Orangemen came back time and time again only to be denied the equaliser.
Shayne Cassar was strong and gave his teammates plenty of possession but to no avail as turnovers were their eventual downfall.
Fortuna’s keeper Nick Pridgeon had to pull off a good save midway through the term but there was very little activity around the goal mouth.
Fortuna were relentless with five minutes to go and three good strikes almost brought the equaliser but Michael Bloss was strong on the line, holding out until the final whistle to give the Roosters a 1-0 victory, their first over Fortuna since 2016 in a league match.
CHURCHILL v SALE
Churchill avenged their last two defeats from Sale with a close finish.
The Rams opened the scoring at five minutes through a Sam Di Ciero strike but then the match settled down to a tug of war with neither team getting the break.
Churchill hung on to their lead but Sale kept pushing forward only to be denied any score.
The Rams, now with two wins out of three (one league, one cup), are showing more determination than was seen last year.
They took the points from Sale but it wasn’t all one way traffic as Sale were able to string passes together but fell down at the final hurdle.
MOE v TRAFALGAR
Moe scored their first win over Trafalgar since 2016, getting on the board at 24 minutes through Josh Porter.
Victory held on, keeping the Red Devils out, but Trafalgar fought on and equalised 12 minutes later with a good shot from Logan Winter.
Moe, on the shadow of half-time, produced three goals in three minutes to shatter the ever-trying Trafalgar, strikes from Riley Winkelman, Ty Georgiou and Noah Cane all finding the net before half-time.
This took the wind out of Victory’s sails and Moe were able to add a further three goals from Ty Georgiou for his second at 74 minutes, Riley Winkelman scored his brace at 89 and Andre Antonopoulos finished off the rout right on the 90-minute mark to give Moe a 7-1 victory.
NEWBOROUGH/YALLOURN v MONASH
The local derby is usually a close battle but Newborough/Yallourn United had other ideas and took the game away from Monash who were continually beaten to the ball.
NYU now sit on top of the table with two wins and even at this stage of the season rate a good chance to be there in September.
Mark Fairbrother continued his run of goals with another pair, scoring the first two goals at three and 13 minutes into the game.
Hayden Tanti followed up with two more at 22 and 26 minutes and all of a sudden NYU were 4-0 up and looking strong.
Monash had run out of ideas to stop the leakage as NYU ran riot.
After the break Monash showed more fight but were unable to get one in the net.
Damien Gilbert made some good saves as Monash launched some attacks, while Ash Birrell scored NYU’s fifth goal on the hour to wrap up the match 5-0.
OLYMPIANS v FALCONS
Ryan McAuley became an instant hero for Falcons, scoring an opportunist goal right on 90 minutes to give his side a 3-2 win after scores were level.
Olympians gave Falcons a fright early as the two teams traded goals.
Harry Crooker opened the scoring for Olympians at 11 minutes for his third for the season, but Lachlan Spiteri chipped in to equalise 25 minutes later in the term. Olympians were putting pressure on Falcons and when Henri Scott beat Simon Charles it was 2-1 for Olympians right on half time.
Falcons had a reshuffle in their line-up and started to produce good passes although the wind caused many problems.
Olympians were backing up well giving Falcons little chance of scoring the equaliser, but the elusive Jamie Pistrin chipped one past the keeper to make it 2-2.
Time was closing in and the match looked settled for a draw but new man McAuley broke the shackles.
The two top teams of 2018, Traralgon City and Fortuna now find themselves in third and fourth after fighting out a 2-2 draw, a fitting result between two talented teams.
Sale went to the top of the ladder with a 16-0 win over the hapless Churchill. Monash scored their second with a 1-0 win over Newborough/Yallourn, Trafalgar had a solid 2-0 win over Moe and Falcons got it all together for a 1-0 win over Olympians.
Round Three Preview
NEWBOROUGH/YALLOURN v SALE
League leaders Newborough/Yallourn United are home to Sale and will be expected to gain the points to equal Sale on 18 wins apiece against each other.
NYU have the leading goal scorer of the competition in Mark Fairbrother who has already put away four goals in two matches.
He has had good assists from Ash Birrell and Hayden Tanti.
Sale almost broke through for a draw last week against Churchill but good goalkeeping kept the Swans goalless.
Sale have lost two of their better strikers to Traralgon City and are finding it hard to get goals. NYU have the potential to finish high up this season and be a real contender.
Played: 41, New/Yall 17, Sale 18, Drawn 6. Last Time: Newborough/Yallourn 7-2.
FORTUNA v MONASH
Only one position separates Monash from Fortuna but Monash have at least one win on the board.
The Lions have lost their first two games and even at this stage it’s going to be more difficult to climb up the ladder.
But it wasn’t for lack of trying, last week they could have managed a possible draw against City but good goal-keeping kept them out.
Monash struggled against their neighbours Newborough/Yallourn and will want to play a lot better to give themselves a realistic chance of beating Fortuna.
Played: 125, Fortuna 55, Monash 34, Drawn 36.
Last Time: Fortuna 4-2
TRARALGON CITY v CHURCHILL
Traralgon City with two wins on the board are stamping themselves as a possible threat to the other contenders near the top. Coach Mark Bruzzese has got a strong side with a squad of potential strikers who would normally score a bagful.
Tommy Nguyen, Ray Allred, DJ Matar and Kieran Coltman are all quality strikers but they struggled under pressure last week against Fortuna.
Churchill with former Rooster Liam Johnson at the pivot is certain to show it all against his former teammates at City.
The Rams need to keep up with Traralgon otherwise there could be a big blowout.
The Rams haven’t beaten City since their 1-0 win in 2015.
Played: 87, Churchill 41, Traralgon City 22, Drawn 24.
Last Time: Traralgon City 5-0.
FALCONS v TRAFALGAR
The Falcons at home should be too good for Trafalgar. They have won their first two games while Trafalgar have lost both.
They should make it three in a row but could be forced to fight for every goal.
Trafalgar have nothing to lose at this stage but will be competitive against Falcons.
Victory held Falcons to a draw last time around but this time Falcons will be too strong.
Played: 8, Falcons 6, Trafalgar 1, Drawn 1.
Last time: Falcons 2, Trafalgar 2.
MOE v OLYMPIANS
Moe and Olympians could be the match of the round. Both teams have a win each and are competitive.
Moe came home well against Trafalgar last week and Olympians didn’t lose credibility with their efforts over Falcons in their last match.
Played: 74, Moe 28, Olympians 24, Drawn 22.