Gippsland United heads into week eight of Men’s State League One

Soccer ball and goal

Solomon Nash

HEADING into match week eight of the Men’s State League One season, Gippsland United’s senior men’s squad hadn’t won in seven games.

You had to stretch all the way back to match week one on March 23, where Gippsland got off to the perfect start, defeating Old Scotch SC at home.

Since this result, they have seen defeat four times and drawn twice.

The performances have always been positive since their last victory, however, for one reason or another, results haven’t quite gone in Gippsland’s favour.

But they wouldn’t be the ones to dwell on past shortcomings, and instead made the most of the next opportunity, that being against Mornington Soccer Club.

After various close encounters with Mornington over the years, it would be no easy feat for Gippsland to topple their opponents.

But they showed why they can beat any opposition on their day, especially at home, posting a 2-nil win at Baxter Park.

The foundation of this much-needed victory was built on an impenetrable defensive display.

The return of centre back Nick Modaffari certainly helped ease some of Gippsland’s recent defensive woes.

Alongside him, Riley Hamilton played another tremendous game, making crucial challenges and blocks to keep out Mornington.

Due to the outstanding defensive efforts of Gippsland’s outfield players, keeper Aiden Riley had very few shots to save.

But he was called into action late in the game and stood up for his team, making an unbelievable reflex save as he pushed a deflected shot around the post to safety.

All of Gippsland’s defensive excellence earnt them their first clean sheet of the season.

Up the other end of the pitch, the two telling goals were scored by Gippsland’s number nine, Rory Wagner.

His pair of goals fell either side of halftime.

The first, a trademark header at the back post, again showed why Wagner is so difficult to defend in set piece situations.

Nathan Lugton was the provider of the assist, delivering the ball from a corner.

Wagner’s second was created by some wonderful team build up down the right wing by Oscar Sheehan and Ashley Ross.

Wagner then converted the killer blow, scoring his fourth goal of the season.

Gippsland saw out the game from here on in, sealing a valuable three points, taking their season tally up to eight and bumping themselves up to eighth on the league table.

Reserves

BEFORE the seniors got their second win of the season, Gippsland United reserves also returned to the winner’s circle after two defeats in a row.

Two uncharacteristic and unacceptable defeats to say the least, as before match week six, they’d won all of their first five games.

But the defending league champion set the tone for the seniors to make it a perfect day out for Gippsland, as they were back to winning ways, defeating Mornington’s reserves 3-1.

A slight reshuffle of personnel saw Alexandru Popp deployed in a more attacking role compared to his usual position at left back.

Popp well and truly vindicated coach Jason Dastey’s decision to release him further up the pitch, as he scored all three goals in the game.

After multiple slow starts in recent weeks where Gippsland’s reserves conceded some early goals, they managed to flip this narrative in their favour.

The first goal of Popp’s hat-trick was scored within the first five minutes, as he ran in behind, and finished the first presentable chance of the game with aplomb.

But Mornington had plans of their own, showing a great reaction after going 1-nil down early on, as they equalised soon after.

Gippsland however said to their opponents, ‘anything you can do, we can do better’.

Before Mornington knew it, minutes after they’d equalised, Gippsland scored again Through Alex Popp, to reclaim the lead.