NPL status at risk as Warriors seeking redemption

ONTHE BALL: Juso Julardzija in action for the Warriors. Picture: Ivan Dugandzic


WITH a third of the season complete but only three points to show for their endeavour, North Geelong Warriors face a tough fight maintaining National Premier League status.
Their opportunity for redemption starts tomorrow at Elcho Park when the Warriors host Oakleigh.
Oakleigh went down to a well-drilled Heidelberg 1-0 last week in a match that must have featured some industrious defending given the winner scored eight goals the week before.
The Warriors, however, did themselves no favours against Northcote with a lethargic display for the majority of the match.
Northcote was two up before the break thanks to Aron Handakas and Evan Kounavelis.
North Geelong had the one Juso Julardzija effort that tested Northcote but few other opportunities.
The opening 15 minutes teetered as both sides struggled to settle in possession. Then at 18th minute Handakas worked his way around Daniel Zilic to place his shot for the 1-0 lead.
Northcote’s confidence stepped up again five minutes later when Handakas shot deflected to Evan Kounavelis, who wasn’t picked up by the linesperson in a clear offside position, and headed home.
With the closing minutes of the first half approaching, North Geelong pushed forward searching for something to ignite its afternoon.
Nathan Long surged forward after combining well through the middle to get around the defender with a terrific ball that beat the keeper. The ball landed for Julardzija to punish but his header didn’t have enough power, allowing the lunging defender to clear off the line.
Northcote took control in the second half, almost surging further ahead late on when Handakas again found the opening but shot straight at Zilic.
With the closing minutes coming fast, the Warriors were unable to find enough cohesion and intensity to make an impact, their success mid week in the FFA Cup evidently wearing on them.