Monday, 9 May 2016

A Striking Battle at Centenary

I belatedly get around to covering April 23rd's clash between Peninsula Strikers and Old Scotch in State League Division Two South East after being sidetracked by internet issues and hooliganism.

The teams line-up pre-game for a ceremony to commemorate the Anzacs.

There's a rise down the middle of Centenary Park, not as extreme as Gardiner's Creek Reserve, but very noticeable.

Looking towards the North Eastern corner of the ground which houses the clubroom and changing rooms. The away rooms have long been among the smallest in the state, but the first stage of building extensions is set to commence this month.

The Strikers are about to deal with an Old Scotch cross.

Aerial duel in midfield about to take place.

Richard Ojo guards the Peninsula goal. The surface was in pretty good condition, barring some patched up areas in the eighteen yard boxes.

The ground is well banked on three sides.

The shed is vacated for the half-time rush to the bar/canteen, with the home side having the upper hand at the interval.

In what is now an obligatory part of the match report photo essay series, Jonathan Beamish prepares to take a penalty, which he duly converted.

                                                   (Click on images to enlarge)

The game itself was action packed, though perhaps a bit niggly to be labelled a classic. It was a rather ill-tempered affair, with Strikers having a few older, slower players preferring to stop their opponents with extreme physicality. In response, a few of the Scotch boy were hoping the ref would win the game for them rather than taking it the game by the scruff of the next themselves. The referee was copping an equal amount of abuse from both sides.

While Old Scotch held possession very well, Strikers were more potent in the attacking third and took a 1-0 lead into the break. The home side went 2-0 up early in the second half, before Beamish pulled a goal back from the spot. An equaliser for Scotch set up a grandstand finish. Just as it seemed as if they had the game at their mercy, another sharp turn and shot regained the lead for Strikers. The drama was not over yet, with Old Scotch grabbing the equaliser in stoppage time.

There was a bit of feeling between both teams, benches and even marshalls during the game. In the second half, a Scotch supporter jumped the fence on the Northern side to act as ball boy as time-wasting became an issue. He assured the assistant referee he was entitled to act as ground marshall for the away team, an assertion he repeated when the home club marshall returned from  the clubrooms. The Scotch man then told him the assistant referee had requested him to act as marshall (it was more a case of begrudgingly accepting his jumping the fence). The Strikers marshall then told the Scotch man if he wanted to marshall he should introduce himself to the home club prior to the game and pick up a high-vis vest to wear when conducting his duties. Tensions soon eased as the excitement on the pitch neared it's epic finale.

The draw kept Old Scotch at the top of the table. The club has been climbing through the leagues in recent years, after starting in the Provisional League following a breakaway from Eastern Lions. Old Scotch had previously merged with Waverley City to form Old Scotch/Waverley which was later re-branded as Eastern Lions.

Peninsula Strikers are also the product of re-branding and mergers. Dingley-Skye United emerged at Centenary Park following the collapse of Frankston City in the early 1980's, becoming Frankston United in 1989. A merger with Karingal United in 1993 saw the club become Frankston Strikers in 1994, with a re-brand to Peninsula Strikers taking place in 2008. In the mid-1990's there was a push for promotion to the VPL, but the club never went beyond a short stint in the First Division.

The history of Centenary Park is probably best off told in a post of it's own, so we'll leave it at that for now.

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