A POINT away from home has not been enough for Ballarat to escape the bottom of the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league two table.
The Haymes Red Devils secured their second draw of the season with a 0-0 result against Altona East Phoenix on Saturday, but still remain two points adrift of 11th-placed Altona City heading into round six.
Both teams had the chance to grab all three points at the weekend, but when presented with opportunities to find the back of the net, the goalkeepers from each side pulled off a string of excellent saves to keep the match deadlocked.
In blustery conditions, much of the first half was played in the midfield with neither goalkeeper really troubled.
Both teams were having difficulty breaking down the respective backlines and it took until the 39th minute for Ballarat’s Sean Harding to have the first shot at goal.
Kyran Taylor then had a great chance to open the scoring on 43 minutes when he was played in by playing manager Brian Shelley, but his drive was well saved from former Red Devils gloveman Kieran McDowell.
A minute later it looked as though the home side would go in front when Charlie King tried to clear the ball from close range, only for it to hit his heel and force Reds ‘keeper Simon Williams to make a top save.
Harding then had a look at a good volley that didn’t quite connect, and again the ball went just wide of the upright.
The second half started with neither team fully taking control of the match.
Ex-Red Devil Franck Labakohler unleashed a 40-yard drive that went only a ball width over the bar, and then Altona East had another good chance to take the lead, but the Phoenix forward kicked his shot wide.
The more both sides battled it out in the midfield, the more it looked as though the first goal would be the winner.
Simon Murphy was substituted on for Ballarat and was lively, linking up with Adam Newbold and managing to get a shot off that made McDowell work.
Williams then had to be on his toes a couple of times when he raced out of his box to cut off some dangerous through balls, and on one of these occasions was booked for a foul.
Altona East, on 87 minutes, had a great chance to win but Williams made a fine save with his legs.
And in the last minute of the match, Ballarat should have stolen victory. Newbold played in Daniel Forlandsaas, and with only the ‘keeper to beat, his shot went straight at McDowell, who made a good reflex save.
Ballarat now turns its attention to a home clash with Banyule City this weekend.
The first half was a dour affair, with Ballarat struggling to get out of second gear for most of it. As a result, Mornington was able to put some early pressure on the Blockbuster Lady Devils despite Ballarat holding possession for the majority of the half.
The home side broke the deadlock midway through the half when Delaney Martin whipped in a threatening ball from a free kick, which found Olivia Ortiz’s head at the back post. This provided the Lady Devils with some much-needed momentum.
While the Lady Devils failed to add to the scoreline, the second half was a much better performance.
There was a renewed confidence in their approach, which allowed them to move the ball slickly across the pitch. This brought a new intensity to the game as Ballarat mounted a barrage of attacks on the Mornington defence, but the late withdrawal of Montana Faull, due to injury, was sorely felt when the hosts could not convert the opportunities they created.
Despite the single goal cushion, Mornington never looked like threatening Ballarat’s goal and the second half was a dominant display by the Lady Devils.
Ballarat captain Beth Taylor led by example throughout, with a battling performance that stamped her authority on the game.
Senior debutante Emma Moran looked comfortable throughout at centre-back, and was ably accompanied by Holly Williamson, who continued her great run of form this season.
The Lady Devils now turn their attention to this weekend’s away fixture against South Springvale.
Click here to view the photo gallery