Red Devils youngster Dejan Mitrovic was the star of the show at Morshead Park on Saturday night, booting a hattrick as the hosts ran over the top of the lowly Nunawading City 4-1.
The Reds were quick to make their presence known as they looked to extend their winning streak to three. After a particularity free-flowing opening stanza Mitrovic was able to get on the end of a low cross to give the hosts the advantage.
The Red Devils’ usual suspects began to cause problems for the shaky City defence, with danger man Michael Trigger rifling the ball over the crossbar moments after Mitrovic’s opener.
However the Reds’ good work was bought undone in the 30th minute when miscommunication in the box between Daniel Tinker and Aaron Romein allowed City striker David Antequera to pounce.
It was again Mitrovic who came to the rescue six minutes later, getting on the end of another delivery following some fancy footwork from Pat Karras to give the Reds a one-goal advantage at the break.
Both sides were forced to scrap in the opening minutes of the second half, with neither side looking settled on the ball.
That would all change in the 63rd minute when Trigger was able to stage a swift counter attack, breaking away from the City defence before passing to Nelson Salvatore, who efficiently converted from straight in front.
From there the front-runners were rarely challenged by the visitors. The City defence was under siege for much of the the half, and Mitrovic managed to put the icing on the cake in the 77th minute by sending another cross into the back of the net, this time delivered by Isaac Ellis.
Reds coach James Robinson was full of praise for his charges, in particular Mitrovic.
“He’s getting into his own. He’s still only 18 so we knew it was going to take time with him, but it’s been about getting that consistency and getting 90 minutes under his belt.
“He’s feeling a lot more comfortable and confident playing at this level.”
With three games left in the season, the Reds could still finish in the top four of the National Premier Leagues Two West competition. They will get the chance to continue their good form next Saturday when they face rivals Bendigo City at home.
Robinson said the three wins had bolstered his side’s confidence in their aggressive game plan.
“You can’t help but be happy with it,” Robinson said. “We want to play football where we can assess whether to play short or play long, because there’s nothing wrong with playing long when you can find a teammate.”
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