SALE United slipped to ninth on the Latrobe Valley Soccer League table with a 3-1 loss to Monash.
Three long range strikes carried Monash over the line on Sunday at Newborough.
The Swans began dangerously, with Tommy Nguyen and Nick Buckhoreelall causing the home side trouble with their pace.
The Swans’ height got them the opening goal as Stevie Corrigan headed home uncontested from a corner 10 minutes into the game.
The Wolves were missing leading goal scorer Ty Christy but responded soon after when Ethan Lawrence opened his account for the season with a 30 yard effort which wrong-footed the Sale keeper.
Monash began to get the game under control as Marcus Krznaric and Shawn Lawrence kept the dangerous Sale striking duo under wraps.
Brendan Ruddell handed the home side the lead when his audacious 40 yard strike found the top corner on 44 minutes. He repeated the dose minutes later from a similar position to give Monash a 3-1 lead at the break.
Monash controlled a majority of possession in the second half to collect a fifth win in its past six outings, keeping it in third place ahead of Churchill United on goal difference.
NEWBOROUGH-Yallourn United regained top spot after preview leader Moe United’s loss.
The Red Devils lost to Churchill United 4-1 at home, while Newborough-Yallourn thumped Trafalgar Victory 5-0 to claim top spot.
The Combine and Red Devils are level on points and goal difference, the latter is on top due to scoring more goals.
Having defeated last season’s top three teams — Falcons, Moe and Sale — Churchill is within a point of the current top two.
In an action-packed opening, the Rams went two goals up in the opening 15 minutes through Ellis Hayes-Hills and Ray Myers, whose relentless pressure and pace left the Moe defenders looking like they had concrete boots on.
With the woeful start behind them, the ladder leaders looked to work themselves into the game through the run of workhorse Matt Shearing and the class of midfield maestro Joel Baldwin, but every time momentum started to build in their favour they were brought crashing down by the tough tackling of Churchill’s midfielders Mitch Jackson and Dean Pyle.
The second half began much the same as the first ended, with both sides engaged in a midfield tussle to gain control, until the 65th minute when Hayes-Hills rose highest to meet the ball in an aerial duel to nod home Churchill’s third.
Where other teams may have packed up and gone home, Moe continued to fight and was awarded a penalty shortly after, which Baldwin confidently slotted home to give Moe a glimmer of hope.
The Devils continued to chase the game until the 84th minute when Ray Myers claimed his second to kill the game off after a quick counter attack by Churchill.
With a two-goal buffer the Rams sat back and soaked up pressure for the rest of the game.
FALCONS scored a 3-1 away win against Traralgon City to move into fifth place.
The visitors looked to dominate possession early, however could not convert into scoreboard pressure. As the half wore on the Roosters rose to the challenge, but the Birds’ defence held firm.
Falcons took the lead when striker Jesse Kennedy finished from an acute angle, but the advantage lasted mere minutes. A vicious volley by City’s Matthew Baker from the penalty spot evaded keeper Adam Brooker to level the contest going into half-time.
The Morwell side controlled the second half, but again could not convert chances into goals. Eventually Daniel Edey was able to prod home a Tom D’Alia cross to give Falcons a 2-1 advantage.
DJ Matar had three gilt-edged opportunities to finish the contest but to no avail.
As the game drew to a close the home side continued to press for the equaliser, throwing numbers forward against a resolute defence.
The contest was ended in injury time when a well-taken free kick from D’Alia evaded City keeper Ben Johnstone.
IN other matches, Traralgon Olympians moved from ninth to seventh position with its 3-1 victory over Tyers, while East Gippsland United broke its duck for the season, defeating Pegasus 5-3 at home.
Fortuna had the bye.
THIS Sunday, Sale United will host East Gippsland.
Fifth-placed Falcons will host top side Newborough-Yallourn, with only three points separating them on the table.
There are also three points between two other opponents, sixth-placed Fortuna and Monash, which is third.
Churchill will host Traralgon City, Moe will head to Morwell to play Pegasus, and Trafalgar will welcome Olympians.
Tyers will have the bye.