Battle of Britain Cup staying in Moe

It's ours: Moe United coach Kevin O'Farrell and co-captain Luke Bathgate hold the Battle of Britain cup aloft.





MOE UNITED made it back-to-back Battle of Britain Cup victories on Friday night, after putting on a superb display of attacking football against Latrobe Valley Soccer League runner-up Falcons 2000.

The Red Devils beat Falcons on their home pitch 5-1.

Moe United proved to be worthy winners, enduring the toughest cup draw of any side, with wins over Pegasus (3-1), LVSL champions Fortuna (2-1) and Newborough/Yallourn United 6-0 in the semi-final.

The Red Devils’ potent dual strikers in Connor O’Hanlon and Riley Winkelman were outstanding in the cup competition, both scoring six goals each, with co-captain Luke Bathgate and Connor Dastey each slotting two during the campaign.

O’Hanlon’s dominance in the cup rounds was completed when he took out the man-of-the-match award with a hat-trick and two assists in the final.

Defenders Brendan Ruddell, Chad Shelly, Bathgate, Lachlan McKenzie and the evergreen goalkeeper Peter Albanese also did an outstanding job.

Contrary to rumours, Albanese is not ready to retire just yet.

The unlucky players for Moe United were Oscar Sceney, out injured, and co-captain Nick Fogarty, who had to accept a suspension after being fouled the previous week.

Both were still there in full support on Friday, with Fogarty using his skills as a physio to get players strapped.

The match started in perfect conditions in front of a large crowd, with lush grass befitting the occasion for a final.

Starting line-ups were:

Moe: Peter Albanese, Chad Shelley, Tanner Pyle, Lachlan McKenzie, Connor Dastey, Luke Bathgate, Matt Shearing, Noah Kane, Connor O’Hanlon and Riley Winkelman, with subs Joe Stewart, Campbell Dastey, Bailey Somerville, Kevin O’Farrell (coach) and Harley Robinson.

Falcons: Charles Simon, Gianni Salvatore, Harley Broadbent, James Mills, Tom D’Alloa, Toby Capp, Nonda Lazaris, Josh Patterson, Jamie Pistrin, Jordi Vacca and Micahel Fava, with subs Joe Auciello, Gabrielle Bochicchio, Kevin Carcellar and Anton Sbaglia.

Moe United were dominant with possession in the first half, giving the Falcons defence a hectic time. Falcons’ keeper Charles Simon stood up to the pressure with some brilliant reflex saves to ensure his side stayed in the game early on.

The match started with an opening fast pace, and Falcons created the first opening when a run by Salvatore earned a free kick. D’Allia’s free kick into the goal area was headed clear by Moe fullback Shelley.

This would prove to be Falcons’ only real shot on goal, as Moe United’s midfield of Shearing, Bathgate, Kane and Connor Dastey held sway of the centre area.

A perfectly executed Kane free kick found O’Hanlon at the back post, but his headed attempt was palmed clear by Simon.

Fifteen minutes into the match, it was no surprise to see Moe United get the breakthrough they wanted, when a Ruddell corner picked out O’Hanlon, who’s header back across goal was met by an alert Winkelman’s head for the opening goal.

United were keen to increase their lead, and minutes later, a long Shelley throw sent O’Hanlon through, but his shot at goal was saved.

Falcons’ defence were at sixes and sevens with O’Hanlon’s dominance in the air, and a cross by Shearing into the goalmouth saw O’Hanlon’s attempt go narrowly wide of the upright.

From the resultant goal kick, Falcons created a quick counterattack with Vacca finding space out wide, but his cross to Fava was hit well over the crossbar.

A spate of Moe United corners by Ruddell again found O’Hanlon, only again to see Simon make a great save at the 30-minute mark, and again seconds later O’Hanlon was in play when, after gaining possession, he was fouled by Capp.

The resultant, really well hit strike by Connor Dastey saw Simon again thwart United, with a superb low save in the right corner of goal.

Play was flowing freely and a through ball by Patterson to Pistrin saw his cross met by Fava’s header, but it was cleared by a Tanner Pyle header.

United went straight back into attack from a long throw from Chad Shelly. The resultant loose ball fell to Luke Bathgate, who blasted his mistimed shot wide of goal.

At the 40-minute mark, Falcons came close to an equaliser when a Pistrin free kick was headed down low to the Moe United near upright by Mills, but a brilliant fingertip reflex save by Peter Albanese pushed the ball wide of goal.

Just on halftime, O’Hanlon turned the game on its head in a matter of minutes, when he first won a ball from Patterson, and then sprinted clear and cooly slid the ball past the oncoming Simon.

Well into the first half of extra time, an O’Hanlon through ball put Winkelman through and he made no mistake with his opportunity to silence the Falcons supporters right on the halftime whistle.

Immediately after the commencement of the second half, United were left stunned when a Lazaris corner saw Pistrin ghost in from the back post to revive the Falcons hopes with a well-timed header.

It was Lazaris who was again involved in the play, only this time, his shot went wide of the United goal.

The Red Devils got the vital break when a Ruddell corner was headed down by O’Hanlon, which fell to Shearing, but he was brought down from behind, which saw a spot kick awarded.

The resultant penalty was blasted home by O’Hanlon.

Again, it was O’Hanlon terrorising the Falcon’s defence, and his run down the right saw his cross set-up a perfect chance for Joe Stewart to grab his first goal, but from point blank range, he sent his shot over the crossbar.

One of Falcons’ better players, Lazaris, created two great chances, both saved by Albanese, the second being a classic Albanese reflex blinder.

Fittingly, man-of-the-match O’Hanlon put an end to Falcons’ misery, after he ran onto a loose ball, drew out the Falcons keeper, then calmly scored again.

O’Hanlon was joined in the best by Ruddell, McKenzie, Shelley and skipper Luke Bathgate.

Best for Falcons was Pistrin, Mills, Lazaris and Broadbent.

The win was a great way for coach O’Farrell to go out, as he prepares to hand over the reigns to Lee Dastey.

Dastey is back in the top job at the Red Devils next season, and will be looking to add to his list of achievements, which includes a league title.

Dastey looks set to be part of a smooth transition, inheriting a squad which also finished third in this season’s LVSL campaign.

Moe United will hold their presentation next Saturday (October 14) at Moe Racing Club.


THE Latrobe Valley Soccer League saw out the 2023 season with its cup finals on Friday.

With last Friday a public holiday due to the AFL Grand Final, the day was set aside to allow people to come and watch local soccer on their day off, and potentially give players something to celebrate over the long weekend.

As well as the Battle of Britain, there was also the Shopwell Trophy (reserves), Browne-Huizer Cup (women’s) and Nan Bosma Cup (2nd division) up for grabs.

Fortuna completed the cup and league double by winning the reserves cup final.

The boys in orange were too strong for Falcons, winning 4-1.

Fortuna’s Jacob Cheeney was judged best-on-ground.

Sale did likewise in the women’s, completing the perfect season by adding the Browne-Huizer Cup to their league championship.

The Swans had to fight off a persistent Fortuna, and eventually won 2-1 after scores were level.

The Express’ own Zoe Askew had the honour of captaining Sale United, and now has the distinction of being a league and cup winning captain.

In 2nd Division, the cup travelled all the way back to East Gippsland, after East Gippsland United defeated Sale White 3-1.

Go: Connor Dastey had his own fan club in the stands.

It’s ours: Moe United coach Kevin O’Farrell and co-captain Luke Bathgate hold the Battle of Britain cup aloft.

Poise: Noah Kane in action during the final.

Rival codes: A good crowd was treated to some great soccer on the Friday AFL Grand Final Eve public holiday.

Incoming: Brendan Ruddell takes a corner, under the watchful eye of referee Liam White.

Big game player: Lachlan McKenzie was one of Moe’s best in the final.

Go: Connor Dastey had his own fan club in the stands.

Home: Connor O’Hanlon kicks one of his three goals for the game.

Cheer: Moe players Connor Dastey, Noah Kane (No 4) and Riley Winkelman celebrate a goal. Photographs: Liam Durkin

Hugs all round: Moe players and supporters congregate on the pitch postgame.