Cannons sneak past Ballarat
By Rusty Woodger (@rustywoodger)
Oakleigh has kept up the pressure on league leader South Melbourne with a 1-0 win over Ballarat on Saturday.
Laurent Coralie’s goal within minutes of coming on as a substitute was all the Cannons needed to claim the three points in a rain-soaked affair at Morshead Park Stadium.
The match began sluggishly, with both sides struggling to adapt to the wet conditions.
It was Oakleigh, though, which gradually took control of the game and fashioned the better chances in the initial period.
In-form pair Goran Zoric and Nate Foster were causing major headaches for the Ballarat defence, and on 13 minutes Zoric nearly put the visitors ahead when his cross-cum-shot rolled narrowly wide of the goal.
At the other end, chances for the home side were few and far between, but an opportunity did arise when Liam Harding found space opening up for him on the edge of the area.
With Cannons defenders hurriedly tracking back, and teammate Michael Trigger screaming for the ball on the left, Harding took the shot himself, but failed to test Oakleigh ‘keeper John Honos.
As the home side began to force its way into the game, it suffered a huge blow when Adrian Curtain was forced off the field clutching his arm.
Already missing several key players through injury and suspension, Curtain’s substitution left Ballarat further undermanned and reliant on inexperienced players.
But the Cannons struggled to break down the Red Devils defence, and were reduced to trying their luck from distance in the latter stages of the half.
The rain had well and truly settled when the two teams returned to the pitch in the second half, and it was Oakleigh which took control of the game once again.
On 48 minutes, the Cannons bench was on its feet when the referee waved away appeals for a penalty after a strong challenge on Foster.
The howls of protest were louder minutes later when the linesman ruled Foster offside as the striker raced away on goal.
As the game wore on, the signs of weariness were evident on the Ballarat players, with gaping holes surfacing in defence.
Eventually, Coralie punished the Red Devils for providing too much space. In the 77th minute, the substitute buried the ball in the back of the net with one of his first touches after coming off the bench.
Despite going ahead, Oakleigh boss Miron Bleiberg pleaded with his players from the dugout for “one more goal”, but it wasn’t needed as his side claimed a valuable win away from home.
After the match, losing coach James Robinson maintained there were positives to be taken out of his side’s fourth consecutive loss.
“The pleasing thing for me was we held our own against them,” Robinson said.
“And it was tiredness that crept in for us. We’ve got a lot of injured bodies about. And we have a lot of young players stepping in for them. They’re not excuses, that’s just the reality of it.
“We’ve done what we’ve been working on. And it’s showing out there, it’s getting there. We’re not far off.”
The Oakleigh camp was unavailable for comment.
Next Saturday, Ballarat continues its run of home games when it hosts Bentleigh, while Oakleigh returns to Jack Edwards Reserve to meet Goulburn Valley.
BALLARAT RED DEVILS 0 defeated by OAKLEIGH CANNONS 1 (Coralie 77’) at Morshead Park Stadium [HT: 0-0]
BALLARAT RED DEVILS: 40. Jordan FRANKEN (GK), 16. Charles KING, 18. Daniel O’DONNELL, 25. Steven THOMSON, 19. Daniel FIRTH, 6. Liam HARDING, 13. Michael TRIGGER, 12. Miles BAKER (36. Leighton PARKINSON 62’), 5. Adrian CURTAIN (11. Nelson SALVATORE 34’), 29. Harley BOSHER (34. Josh DE VOOGEL 75’), 31. Simon MURPHY
UNUSED SUB(S): 1. Aaron ROMEIN, 2. Tristan ROMEIN
YELLOW CARD(S): None
RED CARD(S): None
OAKLEIGH CANNONS: 1. John HONOS (GK), 22. George KROMMIDAS, 5. Aron WILFORD, 23. Dominic D’ANGELO, 7. Bonel OBRADOVIC (25. Laurent CORALIE 67’), 16. Ariel RITZ, 11. Evan CHRISTODOULOU, 10. Veton KORCARI (8. Dusan BOSNJAK 55’), 19. Goran ZORIC, 14. Nathaniel FOSTER, 17. Dean PIEMONTE (4. Ian KAMAU 65’)
UNUSED SUB(S): 35. Harry RAWORTH, 2. Thomas LAKIC
YELLOW CARD(S): None
RED CARD(S): None