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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 July 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 JULY 2016 27 SPORT Sharks desperate to find the net Port Melbourne Sharks appear to be in freefall at present and in grave danger of being sucked into a relegation battle in the last six games of the season. Given the Sharks' reasonably solid start to the campaign, few people could have predicted that since a 7-nil win over Richmond in Rd 11, the Sharks would lose eight of their next nine matches and fail to find the net in their last five matches. On Saturday the Sharks will be desperately trying to arrest the slide when they visit John Cain Reserve for a Rd 21 match with a team that has known desperate straits for most of the season, Northcote City. City has languished near the bottom for most of the season, but with a game in hand over third-bottom side Richmond, that playoff spot which Richmond currently occupies is within Northcote's reach. Following Saturday's match against Port, Northcote plays a midweek catch-up match on Wednesday evening against fellow struggler Avondale at Knights Stadium. City's next four matches will be crucial in determining if it can avoid the drop. At the other end of the NPL 1 table, new league leader Bentleigh Greens takes on Melbourne Knights for the second time in five days when it visits Knights Stadium on Sunday, having defeated the Knights in a Dockerty Cup semi midweek. The Knights are currently in seventh spot on the ladder, nine points behind Oakleigh Cannons. Later on Sunday, the Cannons host a South Melbourne side that will still be smarting from its loss of top spot to the Greens last Friday evening. Joint Cannons coach Kostas Tangalakis expects a good crowd to attend and anticipates a good battle. "It's very important for the boys to step up and show what they're made of in a derby like this. I'm not saying we're definitely going to get a result, but as long as the boys lift a notch in their performance and the game's competitive, it's always a positive thing leading into finals. " They (South) are the ones that have got more pres- sure. They're fighting for top spot. They're going to come at us I believe, a lot harder than what we're going to go at them. We're going to compose ourselves, and try and play our game. "Last time we did get smashed in Bob Jane. I don't think the boys want to repeat that. You don't take teams like South for granted. If you don't put in 100 per cent for 90 minutes and you leave holes out on the pitch, teams like South will punish you." As far as the objectives for the rest of the season are concerned, Tangalakis says: "We'll be happy if we make the six. If we play a game or two of finals it will be great for the boys. First year as bonding, first year with Gus and myself leading the club, we're sitting OK at the moment." Just two points ahead of the Cannons in third spot on the table is Heidelberg United. The team will be looking for another three pointer on Sunday when it hosts Bulleen Lions. Last week Heidelberg defeated the Sharks, making it six wins from its last eight and keeping the pressure on the top two. In Rd 21 of NPL 2 E on Saturday, sixth-placed Brunswick City has a tough away fixture at third-placed Dandenong City, which still hasn't given up the chase on Kingston City. Kingston returned to the winners' list last Saturday thanks to a late Jerry Karpeh winner in a 3-2 away win against Springvale White Eagles. City hosts Nunawading on Saturday evening whilst Box Hill United faces unbeaten Dandenong Thunder away. In state League Rd 15 action, NW 1 club Altona East Phoenix will be aiming for two wins in a row when it hosts Keilor Park on Saturday. Yarraville hosts top of the table Altona Magic while Western Suburbs visit third-placed Banyule City. In SE 1 action on Saturday, Malvern City visits Mooroolbark, FC Clifton Hill travels to Gippsland to take on Morwell Pegasus, and South Springvale hosts third-placed Manningham United, while in SE 2, thirdplaced Caulfield United Cobras hosts sixth-placed Doveton. Greens conquer the Knights for a place in Dockerty Cup final PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES. Bentleigh Greens has earned a shot at its first ever Dockerty Cup trophy after defeating Melbourne Knights 2-1 at Jack Edwards reserve on Wednesday night in the Dockerty Cup semifinal. The win comes days after a 3-1 home win in the league against archrival South Melbourne, which lifted the Greens into top spot ahead of the Lakesiders for the first time this season, putting it in line to add the Premier's Plate to its trophy cabinet. It's been an eventful week for the reigning NPL champion. Two crucial wins in succession have put it in pole position to win two more major trophies this season to add to its Community Shield. And the team has managed to do it with a squad stretched thin with injuries and suspensions. In Wednesday night's semi against the Knights, the Greens got off to a flying start, scoring from a set piece in the second minute when defender Luke Pilkington escaped his marker and side-footed home a Ross Honos free kick. The Knights equalised through a set piece of their own in the 40th minute, when the Greens keeper Ryan Scott misjudged a free kick allowing Stipo Andrijasevic to flick the ball onwards into the net. The Greens were back in front soon after the break when an attempted Knights clearance of a Tyson Holmes cross cannoned off Knights defender Nikola Jurkovic into the net for an own goal in the 48th minute. A late Andrijasevic header was cleared off the line by a desperate Greens defence, with the referee ignoring Knights claims that the ball had crossed the line. After the match Bentleigh Greens coach John Anastasiadis commented that "it was extraordinary some of the chances we missed today". "It meant that the Knights were in the game all along. We've got to be careful and complete those chances we created. Another day, if we didn't have a bit of luck we could've lost the game. Fortunately we got away with it. "At the moment we're running on empty. We've got injuries, we've got suspensions. A lot of players are very tired out there at the moment. We're hanging on. We know this is the time of the year when a lot of teams are suffering with the players being fit."
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