MARTIN van Rooy scored a hat-trick and Dechlan Picken netted a sublime free kick as Warrnambool Rangers navigated a tricky road assignment.
The Rangers defeated North United 6-2 at Trekardo Park, Ballarat, to remain clear in second spot on the Ballarat and District Soccer Association division one ladder.
They rushed to a 3-0 lead in the first half before sealing the win in the last half-hour. North United scored when it trailed 3-0 and 5-1 but rarely threatened to steal a point.
Dead-ball specialist Picken netted the last goal of the match, finding the top-left corner with a free kick on the right outside the penalty box.
His effort came after van Rooy completed his hat-trick — his second for the season. His first goal came with an athletic header from a free kick.
Josh Bourke and substitute Liam Priestly also got on the score sheet. Priestly’s effort from close range was his first goal at division one level.
The win lifted Warrnambool to 19 points after nine rounds, although it still trails ladder leaders Ballarat Red Devils, who have a 48-2 goal difference in amassing 27 points.
The win came at a cost, with coach Nick van Rooy injuring a left hamstring which could sideline him for up to a month.
Nick van Rooy, who did not expect to return until after the competition bye on June 30, was pleased with the win but downplayed the performance.
He praised the efforts of Priestly and under 17 player Tom Pyers, who held their own as strikers in a depleted side. Midfielders Picken and Eli Slater were best afield.
“The game was all right, it wasn’t too flash. We certainly had patches of the game we controlled and laid it around beautifully,” Nick van Rooy said.
“I didn’t think we played too bad but we could’ve played a lot better. We could’ve found the net a lot more times.”
Nick van Rooy said his players were more clinical in front of goal than when the sides drew 1-1 at Jones Oval in round four.
“The one we played at home, we played for 80 minutes without scoring. They got a lucky goal from a scramble in the box and we rebounded but didn’t capitalise,” he said.
“I seem to recall a lot of missed opportunities. We hit the crossbar three or four times, the sidebars.
“We couldn’t find the back of the net whereas this game we did. To find it with such convincing fashion was good.”
In other matches, the Rangers’ division two side lost 2-1 to North United, having led early but conceding twice in five minutes before half-time.
An undermanned under 17 side lost 4-0 to North United, its second defeat of the season, while the under 15s lost 6-0 to North United White.