By David Nagel
Pakenham’s magical month of May has continued with the Cougars scoring an injury-time winner to down Knox 1-0 at Park Ridge Reserve on Saturday.
It took a late strike from Zain Ahmad – in the 92nd minute – to give the Cougars the lead and a crucial victory that sees them move to outright third on the table.
The Cougars have now won four games straight, with victories over Mentone, Mt Martha, Rosebud and now Knox.
The Cougars now sit on 18 points, just four behind ladder leaders Hampton Park and Mentone and four clear of fourth-placed Rosebud.
Pakenham’s victory was a far cry from its most recent outings where it scored seven goals in the two weeks leading into this contest. This was more a grinding victory built on a solid team defence and a core group that is refusing to concede easy goals
Since losing to Hampton Park in round five the Cougars have conceded just one goal, against Rosebud in round eight.
Keeper Josh Green has been superb in goals, with this the Cougars fifth clean sheet of the season, while players like Dallas McNeill, Chris Beasley, Vincent Makota and Albert Mambo have been performing their jobs well.
Ed Trakosevic, Cameron Sayce, Micah McGill and Manny Christopher are others that are playing a key role in the Cougars great recent run of form.
The Cougars have an ideal opportunity to make it five wins on the trot when they host third-from-last South East at IYU Reserve this Saturday. The game kicks off at 3pm.
Bunyip has failed to take advantage of an early red-card for Rosebud, going down 2-1 to the Buds at Bunyip on Saturday.
Stef Papaluca was given his marching orders by the referee in the ninth minute, giving the Strikers every opportunity to control the run of play.
But it was Doug Cunnison who put the visitors in front in first-half injury time, converting a penalty with the last kick before the break.
The Strikers fought back with a 77th-minute equaliser from Liam Lenders, but the comeback was to prove in vain when Craig Parry put Rosebud back in front just six minutes later.
The Strikers had their chances in the dying stages but just fell short to lose their second-consecutive game by the 2-1 scoreline.
The Strikers, who now sit in seventh position on 11 points, will look to get things back on track when they travel to eighth-placed Casey Panthers this week in a crucial game for both clubs.
MEN’S STATE LEAGUE 5 SOUTH SUMMARY
Round 9 Results: White Star Dandenong 1 v Casey Panthers 4, Bunyip 1 v Rosebud 2, Mt Martha 1 v South East 2, Aspendale 2 v Mentone 3, Hampton Park 3 v Endeavour Hills 0, Knox 0 v Pakenham 1.
Standings: Hampton Park 22, Mentone 22, Pakenham 18, Rosebud 14, White Star Dandenong 14, Aspendale 13, Bunyip 11, Casey Panthers 9, Knox 9, South East 8, Endeavour Hills 3, Mt Martha 1.
Round 10 Fixture: Friday 8.30pm – Mentone v Endeavour Hills. Saturday 3pm – Mt Martha v Aspendale, Pakenham v South East, Hampton Park v White Star Dandenong, Knox v Rosebud, Casey Panthers v Bunyip.