SYDENHAM Park had too much riding on the result to simply roll over against local rivals Cairnlea in the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 3 north-west at Keilor Lodge Reserve on Saturday.
The Reds’ insatiable appetite to win came to the fore in the last 30 minutes as they returned from a goal down to snatch a 4-2 victory.
Three valuable points have moved the Reds eight clear on top of the ladder and in the box seat to be promoted as champions.
“We had our chances in the first half and didn’t take them,” Reds coach Sash Becvinovski said.
“We fought hard to create more chances in the second half and put them away. It was just about converting. A great effort to come back.”
The Reds were first on the board midway through the first half when attacking midfielder Alex Bennett coasted in at the near post to score on a diving header.
Cairnlea did all the talking on the scoreboard until midway through the second half with goals before and after half-time to lead 2-1.
It could have been worse for the Reds had they not had the imposing presence of Tommy Tomich between the sticks.
“He was big and strong in a couple of one-on-one situations,” Becvinovski said.
The Reds showed why they will be moving up a division with a blinding last 30 minutes. They found the back of the net three times in that period to send Cairnlea packing without a point.
First it was defender Dejan Milevski, who through sheer persistence followed up his refunded header with a tap in goal.
Defensive midfielder Pece Dimovski got the go-ahead goal, firing in a free kick. Super sub Milos Vlatkovic added an insurance goal after scoring from a one-on-one with the keeper.
Vlatkovic was one of the standouts in the three-goal burst. “He was on fire,” Becvinovski said.
“He came off the bench and played about 30 minutes and his work rate was outstanding in that time.”
Steve Camilleri, a steady hand in defence, Koce Delev, a creative midfielder, and Ilce Mladenovski, out wide on the right, were the other influential players for the Reds. The Reds are not due to play until September 15.
In the meantime, second-placed Sporting Whittlesea has two make-up games to bridge the eight-point gap.
SL1: Pascoe Vale 4 Sunshine George Cross 1
SL2: Keilor Park 2 Altona City 1, Westgate 0 Altona East Phoenix 0
SL3: Sydenham Park 4 Cairnlea 2, Geelong 1 North Sunshine Eagles 0
PL1: Westvale 0 Moreland United 0
PL2: Western Eagles 2 Bell Park 1
PL3: Watsonia Heights 1 Brimbank Stallions 1, Balmoral 1 Moreland Wolves 2