The reputation of striker Habib Fleifel continues to grow at Cairnlea.
Fleifel fired home a double on Saturday, but it was still not enough for the Reds, who sunk 3-2 to promotion contender Hoppers Crossing in Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 2 at Cairnlea Park.
Fleifel, an off season pick-up from Preston Lions, is thriving in a starting role with the Reds, much to the delight of Cairnlea coach Kevin Theuma.
“He scored a couple of nice goals and he’s on about 13 for the season,” Theuma said.
“It’s his first full year that he’s been able to play in a while, getting regular game time.
“This year we’ve given him the opportunity to start week in week out and he’s just getting better and better.”
Even though Cairnlea missed a few “half chances” on attack, it was the sloppy turnovers that saw it come away empty handed on Saturday. Two goals should be enough to win most games, but some breakdowns in defence proved costly.
“We made a few silly errors,” Theuma said. “I wouldn’t say it was all on the defenders – it was the defence as a team.
“We also had some half chances and we didn’t finish them; they had some half chances and they put them away. Give them credit – they scored three nice goals.”
Forward Burak Kocak was Cairnlea’s best outside of Fleifel.
Kocak, the Reds’ acting captain, used his strength as a target player and confidently held up the ball and fed his teammates.
Back-to-back losses have Cairnlea stuck in eighth place on the ladder ahead of a trip to fifth-ranked Fitzroy City on Saturday night.
Westvale has moved further away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 win over Essendon United at JH Allen Reserve.
The Vales are seven points clear of United, the second-last team in the standings.
In men’s state league 1, Keilor Park snapped its five-game losing streak with a pressure-relieving 2-0 victory over Westgate at Keilor Park Recreation Reserve. Joel Pilcher and Supreet Sangha scored the goals.
There was joy for Sydenham Park, which beat lowly Altona East Phoenix 1-0 to consolidate its spot in the top five.
Brimbank Stallions are in a slump, losing three in a row and coughing up top spot in men’s state league 3.
The Stallions are four points back from ladder leader Whittlesea United, which thrashed them 3-0 at Thomas Street Reserve on Saturday.
Western Eagles finished with 10 men in a 2-1 loss to Surf Coast in the men’s state league 4. The Eagles’ only goal came through Matthew Lodkowski, who has nine goals in 15 games.
Dylan Magro scored a double in Spring Hills’ 5-1 mauling of Melbourne Lions in men’s state league 5.
The Stallions remain in the promotion hunt, four points back from second place.
Keilor Wolves and Moonee Valley Knights played out a 1-1 draw.