Entering Round 1 and with plenty of new faces in the squad, Oakleigh was always going to be a tough opener for the season, especially away from home. With coach Ted Latomanski giving senior debuts to Justin Spiteri, Goch Goch and Brodie Sposato, plus bench places to goalkeeper Thomas Simic and Brayden Portelli there was a youthful feel to the team. The inclusions of senior players Mitchell Graham and Brodie Paterson would hopefully add some experience to this young side.
The opening exchange was frantic with both teams playing high tempo football and Oakleigh certainly taking a physical approach to the game. We were able to control possession for the most part with Paterson controlling the game in central midfield and Spiteri dominating his opponent early, although Oakleigh looked dangerous on the counterattack and from corner kicks.
Midway through the 1st half Nicolas Valenzuela won a free kick and Paterson beat the keeper at his near post. As he spilled the save, it was the hardworking Sposato who was first to react to tap in the opener for his debut goal. We then looked comfortable until the 35th minute when a turnover of possession saw The Cannons equalise just before halftime against the run of play.
HALF TIME 1 – 1
The second half began in similar fashion with Gully controlling possession and looking strong heading into half-time. Halfway through the second half Sposato received the ball on the edge of the box and after a speculative dipping shot, the ball bounced right in front of the keeper, deceiving him and giving us the lead.
Oakleigh were reduced to 10 men after Stefan Stojcevski was brought down with only the keeper to beat. Defensively Gully looked strong in the second stanza and never appeared threatened. Paterson and Nick Giarrizzo continued to boss the central areas before Sposato received a well-earned break.
Each substitute that came on added to the collective effort and there wasn’t a bad player in green and white. The boys held firm for a fantastic 3 points and a great way to start the season away from home.
Report by Asst. Coach Ian Burke