After having an enforced layoff the previous round due to a waterlogged pitch at Knights Stadium, it had given the youngsters of Green Gully an opportunity to refresh their tired legs. With the inclusion of Mitchell Graham from the seniors to bolster the backline, there was also a senior debut for Nicholas Ochoa, who has been impressing in the club’s Under 16’s and at Under 21 training sessions. There was also another start for the ever-improving Sebastian Giannella, who began the season in the Under 16’s, before being promoted to the Under 18’s and now becoming an Under 21 regular.
Gully, who enjoyed the victory in the local derby the first time around, were looking to again take the biscuits, this time on home soil. It was a very blustery day, with football being difficult for both sides. Gully had the advantage in the first half and were passing the ball around well. It came as no surprise when they took the lead through Esrom Paulos after a goalkeeping mistake, for his fourth goal in three games. Alexander Cepivirovski was unlucky as his dipping effort, with the keeper stranded, saw his long-range effort clip the crossbar.
St. Albans failed to really test the Gully defence, except for a few crosses into the box. The boys in green and white stayed strong and it was to much delight from coach Ted Latomanski that they approached the break with a clean sheet.
HALF TIME 1 – 0
The second half was going to be a different test for the home side with the wind not letting up. Gully started a little nervously, taking too many touches on the ball and failing to make the best decision in possession. They were promptly punished as St. Albans, found an open shot on goal after a slip at the back to equalise.
Substitute Brayden Portelli entered at the break and didn’t take long to show the home supporters his worth, making life difficult for the St. Albans defence. He found his way through, spotted the keeper off his line and curled the ball into the top corner to give the home side the advantage again. Within 5 minutes he then found himself on the end of a simple chance inside the 6-yard box to double his tally for the game and extend the Gully lead.
As the game opened up, neither team really had too much to shout about. Bits of possession here and there, but without any real potency in the attacking areas. Both teams had a few half chances and shots from distance as the game drew to a close. It was a valuable 3 points for the home side, once again on the back of some excellent displays from younger players within the club.
FINAL SCORE 3 – 1
Report by Asst. Coach Ian Burke