Another tough encounter for the youngest Green Gully squad of the season, as they welcomed an Avondale side boosted by three senior players, including one with A-League experience. With injuries, illness and suspension hampering Gully, there were several opportunities for players from the Under 18 and Under 16 squads being rewarded for their outstanding seasons so far in their respective age groups. Daniel Latomanski was given his first senior start after some impressive cameo performances already.
Gully started the game with a high press, forcing Avondale into some early mistakes. Esrom Paulos was the sole striker and pushed an effort just wide after only 2 minutes of the match. Paulos was then put through by Nicholas Velenzuela after a great tackle and this time placed a similar shot across the keeper, but nestled it into the bottom corner to give the home side the lead.
Tragedy struck just five minutes later as Under 18 defender Dean Peppas suffered a broken leg in a rather innocuous challenge forcing coach Ted Latomanski into an early change with another youngster, Jai Balestra coming on. Just after the half hour mark, Paulos was again rewarded for his tenacity and a misplaced clearance was dispatched past the oncoming keeper.
Right on the stroke of half time, Gully conceded from a high cross which didn’t appear to be dangerous, until the ball ended up in the back of the net. It was a cruel blow so late in the first half.
HALF TIME 2 – 1
Avondale were expected to come out stronger in the second half and had already responded with several substitutions. It was a worrying opening quarter of an hour with Gully not pressing with the same energy as before the break. On the hour-mark there was a scuffle in the centre of the park, with the Avondale captain kicking out at Justin Spiteri for which he received his marching orders.
Alex Cepivirovski then hit the post when it seemed easier to score. And then followed this up with an excellent dipping effort which rattled the crossbar. Would it be a case of missed opportunities for this young side?
Gully then made two changes trying to find the same spark as the first half. One of those substitutes, under 16 player Sebastien Giannella brought energy and vigour into the midfield again. With 10 minutes remaining he broke forward and found himself one on one with the keeper. Giannella showed great composure to round the keeper and find the back of the net to seal the game.
It was no more than this young side deserved. A fantastic fighting win that showed true grit and spirit. The energy from Spiteri in the centre of the park, the attacking intent of Nicholas Fumo at full back and the resolute defending from Simon Zammit and Garang Arou showed what this group can produce on their day.
FINAL SCORE 3 – 1
Report by Asst. Coach Ian Burke
Photo by Mark Avellino Photography