Looking to bounce back after the demoralising loss away at South Melbourne, the Gully youngsters returned home to take on Bentleigh Greens on a sunny winter’s day. Once again, injuries, illness and suspension were hampering coach Ted Latomanski’s team selection. This would also provide opportunities for boys to stake the claim for the rest of this season and beyond in what is becoming a rebuild at Green Gully reserve.
With senior debuts being handed to Sebastien Giannella at full back and Alyn Cristea in goals it was a youthful defence that would benefit from the inclusion of senior player Mitchell Graham. With neither team really forcing the game in the early exchanges, it was a rather uneventful opening. Bentleigh enjoyed slightly more possession but were unable to penetrate through the midfield or defence.
That was until the quarter hour mark when Bentleigh found the back of the net after Cristea had parried the initial effort. This brought Gully to life and with a renewed energy they were now beginning to ask questions of the away side. Disaster struck on the half hour when a cheap giveaway in the backline saw Bentleigh double their advantage.
Captain Nicholas Giarizzo immediately showed the way forward, winning the ball back, bouncing out of a challenge before nestling his shot into the bottom corner. He singlehandedly brought the home side back into the game, although it came at a cost as he picked up a nasty cork in the process. This was followed by a guilt edge chance to Brodie Sposato that was struck straight at the keeper, before Esrom Paulos hit a sweet free kick towards the top corner that was well saved.
HALF TIME 1 – 2
It was all to play for in the second half as the game became a little more physical. There was a fresh energy about the Gully team and the press was much higher up the field. The home team were again winning free kicks around the edge of the box, but both Paulos and Gavin Tasevski were unable to find the equaliser.
Gully were then on the receiving end of what looked like a 50-50 call inside the box and Bentleigh were awarded a penalty for handball. It was tucked away into the bottom corner leaving Cristea with no chance. Before the end, there was time for Phillip Pannunzio to make his senior debut, becoming the third Under-16 player on the pitch. The home team huffed and puffed without really creating another clear cut chance and the result was sealed for a disappointing loss.
FINAL SCORE 1 – 3
Report by Asst. Coach Ian Burke
Photo by Mark Avellino Photography