The pressure is well and truly on Altona Magic in Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 1.
The Magic has lived a cosy existence for most of the season, a clear front runner in the chase for promotion to the National Premier League.
To be fair, the Magic has hardly put a foot wrong, collecting 15 wins, three losses and a draw from 19 games, so they deserved to be title favourites and the No. 1 ranked side.
Such was its dominance, some believed the Magic would have the title wrapped up by now – until a new challenger emerged.
Geelong is giving Altona reason to look into the rear view mirror.
Geelong has come out of the blue, stringing together seven wins in eight matches and closing the gap significantly.
The Magic’s lead at the top of the ladder is down to five points with Geelong having a game in hand.
Goran Lozanovski’s players realised they were in a for a fight when they lost to Geelong 4-0 two weeks ago.
Geelong will not go away and will keep probing and asking questions of the Magic.
Can the Magic players hold their nerve?
Altona reacted strongly to the Geelong loss by thrashing Banyule City 4-1 at Paisley Park Soccer Complex on Saturday night.
Jon McShane fired in a double for the Magic, while Ben Clarke and James McGarry also made the scoresheet.
The Magic players did not go into their shells following the heavy Geelong defeat – a good sign.
They remain in a good position and hold their destiny in its own hands.
In the run home, they will play three teams – Keilor Park, Western Suburbs and Essendon Royals – that sit in the bottom half of the ladder, so they will go into all three games as favourites.
Win them all and the Magic will realise its dream of promotion to the NPL.
Lose one and they will leave themselves vulnerable to a swoop from Geelong, which is just waiting for a chance.
At the other end of the table, Altona East Phoenix’s survival hopes are getting bleaker by the week.
The Phoenix lost 2-0 to Preston Lions at Paisley Park, leaving them five points adrift of safety.
The team they are trying to catch is third-last Yarraville Glory, which picked up a valuable point in a 2-2 draw with North Sunshine Eagles on the road at Larissa Reserve.
Akira Koizumi was the toast of the Glory on Saturday night after firing in a double.
In men’s state league 2, Altona City had a too-close-for-comfort 1-0 win over Moreland United at Moomba Park to keep hold of top spot. Matthew Gray scored the winning goal for City.
It was a disastrous weekend for local men’s state league 3 clubs, with Melbourne City walloped 11-0 by Melbourne University and Williamstown thrashed 5-1 by FC Strathmore.
In women’s state league 2, Maidstone United edged out Maribyrnong Swifts 2-1 at Scovell Reserve.
The lethal Amanda Kezovska scored a double for United, taking her season tally to 10.
Yarraville Glory played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Yarra Jets at McIvor Reserve.
Alexandra Miller scored a hat-trick for the Glory.