CHURCHILL United is within a point of claiming this year’s Gippsland Soccer League championship.
Title rival Fortuna slipped up for the second week in a row, soundly beaten 3-0 by Traralgon Olympians, while the Rams were late 2-0 winners over Falcons on Saturday night.
Churchill pressed in the first half but could not fashion a clear chance in front of goal, however before half-time the game changed as striker Stephen Riess was given his marching orders for lashing out at defender Joe Auciello.
Playing against 10 men for the entire second half, Falcons stepped up the pressure via the counter attack and nearly took the lead as Sam Amaira’s stinging shot hit the cross bar.
With about 10 minutes to go Falcons thought it had taken the lead only for the goal to be disallowed for interference on stand-in Rams goalkeeper Nathan Osborne.
With a minute to play Churchill coach Luke Cheney pulled off a spectacular bicycle kick which was saved by Falcons keeper Paul Storey.
From the subsequent kick-out, Storey was adjudged to have held the ball longer than the stipulated six seconds allowed and an indirect free kick was awarded to Churchill. Cheney stepped up to score after a wicked deflection off the Falcons wall left Storey scrambling as the ball crossed the line.
Just a minute later, Churchill’s Kwaku Dade unleashed a 30 yard tracer to claim a backs to the wall win for the Rams.
TRARALGON Olympians showed the potential its early season promised with a comprehensive 3-0 win over second-placed Fortuna.
Olympian’s George Demetrios held former teammate George Fkaris well and Fortuna’s route to goal was stunted with central defenders Jon Buhagiar and Tony Pardo creating constant road blocks.
The Olympians were also dominating attacking play and in form striker Clayton Bell capitalised with a cracking goal to send the Blues 1-0 ahead at the break.
In the second half, Olympians continued to control proceedings and when Ivan Vekic converted a penalty to take the score to 2-0, Fortuna looked spent.
Substitute Frank Albanese provided the icing on the cake when he finished at the back post for the Olympians won 3-0.
IN the final match of the catch-up round, Traralgon City was too good for Tyers, winning 2-0 on Sunday winning to claim fourth spot on the ladder.
The result means Moe United (third), Traralgon City (fourth) and Sale United (fifth) are all equal on 24 points with just goal difference separating them.
Goal scorers for City were Conor Van Der Staay and Mark Fairbrother.
SALE United returns to action this Sunday, when it hosts Newborough-Yallourn United.
In other matches, the stakes are high for Traralgon City and Churchill, with the Roosters desperate to win to stay in the finals and the Rams eager to wrap up this year’s championship, Fortuna is staring down its third consecutive defeat when it faces third-placed Moe, Monash will host Olympians, while Falcons will host Tyers on a Saturday match beginning at 5pm.