Green Gully Under 21’s were looking to bounce back from the rather inept display against Heidelberg the previous round. The opponents were Eastern Lions, so the challenge was set, as they had come off a good win versus Hume United. There were senior inclusions in the form of Ethan Brooks and Mitchell Graham, plus Stefan Stojcevski was back on the bench to add some attacking support.
The match was quite open in the early exchanges with Gully immediately going on the attack. There was an urgency that had been missing the previous match and a desire to improve on the earlier disappointment. Captain Nicholas Giarizzo was bossing the midfield along with Justin Spiteri and Alex Cepivarovski who has been permanently promoted to the Under 21 squad on the back of his recent good form.
New signing Thomas Magarelli and Brooks were providing spark from the wide areas, and it just needed more composure in and around the box. Indeed, Brooks was unlucky after having one effort well-saved, his next one crashed against the post. Cepivarovski also forced the keeper into an important save as the away side looked to open the scoring.
HALF TIME 0 – 0
The game was once again a tight affair after the break. Goalkeeper Thomas Simic was strong and decisive at the back, providing the defence with confidence. There were still half chances being created as well at the other end. Cepivarovski had a shot blocked before also forcing the substitute keeper into a good save. Simic then again saved Gully with an important 1 on 1 save after a slip at the back.
Simic then tipped a long-range effort over the bar, as both teams looked for the opener. The game then entered a niggly phase as both teams became frustrated at some of the close calls. Eastern Lions then had another shot hit the crossbar as it surprisingly remained 0 – 0. Cepivarovski then tried his luck from distance, but once again the goalkeeper was up to the challenge and parried it wide for a corner.
It was then the turn of Stojcevski to have a shot blocked inside the box from close range. Spiteri quickly followed this up with an effort just over the Lions crossbar. With 10 minutes remaining a split-second decision changed the course of the game. Gavin Tasevski committed a foul 35 metres away from goal, which was somehow deemed to be a ‘goalscoring opportunity’ and he was issued a Red Card. Gully would now have to fight out the remainder with 10 men.
After weathering the storm, there was heartbreak in the 90th minute as a speculative ball into the Gully box somehow evaded 4 defenders. An Eastern Lions attacker made a late run forward and pounced to score the only goal of the match. It was such a cruel end for the Gully youngsters who had given their all.
FINAL SCORE 1 – 0
Report by Asst. Coach Ian Burke
Photo by Mark Avellino Photography