INTENSE: Bendigo City’s George McHeileh (7) takes on a Moreland Zebras opponent in the National Premier League 1 match. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY
BENDIGO City was on the end of a four-goal drubbing as Moreland Zebras galloped to an emphatic victory in the National Premier League One soccer match at Epsom-Huntly Reserve on Easter Saturday.
The Zebras’ goal spree began when Josh McMonagle-Ihasz was on target.
Just a few minutes later and it was two-nil when Joel Nikolic capped off excellent teamwork through midfield and near goal.
While Moreland’s passing and attacking play was crisp and precise, Bendigo City continually turned the ball over in midfield.
Desperate to cut the deficit, Bendigo upped its play, but too often strikes were a long way from goal.
Three minutes into the second half and the Zebras struck again when Danny Charalambous ran onto a fine pass and chipped the ball into the net.
It all looked too easy when Moreland went forward again, but the shot slammed into the keeper and away.
From the ensuing corner kick it was Charalambous who leapt above the defence to head the Zebras’ fourth goal.
A Moreland line-up that included Steve Martin, last season’s coach of FC Bendigo reigned supreme.
Bendigo City coach Greg Thomas said the performance was “extremely disappointing” in the club’s second home game.
“Turning the ball over continually put the defence under extreme pressure.
“Because we didn’t control the ball well enough or for long enough it meant Moreland was able to do plenty of attacking.”
On a day where few positives could be found, Thomas said Bendigo City did bounce back from a demoralising loss at Ballarat to win the next round.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” he said of next Saturday’s home game against Melbourne Victory.
The day’s play at Epsom-Huntly kicked off with a one-all draw in the under-20s match between Bendigo City and the ladder-leading Moreland Zebras.
The Nathan Claridge-coached Bendigo hit the front when Daniel Purdy was on target from the penalty spot just before half-time.
The Zebras equalised with about 15 minutes to go in a top contest.
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