Our Under 21’s were on the road again, looking to bounce back from a disappointing late loss last week, with a trip to Port Melbourne on Saturday night under lights. After facing the same opposition in pre-season, the team knew it was going to be tough against such a quality side.
Port Melbourne started the better of the two teams, with Gully guilty of giving away cheap possession far too many times in the opening exchanges. It was this constant lack of possession and deep defending that saw the Gully youngsters on the back foot. With the award of a free kick on the edge of the Gully box after 15 minutes, it was one of the Port senior players who curled the ball into the top corner for an excellent opener.
Gully continued to huff and puff, but without any real end product. There was a lack of quality with the ball movement and Port were certainly playing the more physical game too. Goalkeeper Tomas Josifovski was called upon more than once to save the team and was having an excellent first half.
Mitch Graham was also proving strong at the back.
HALF TIME 1 – 0
After a half time motivational talk from coach Ted Latomanski and the introduction of Brandon Joveski on the right and under 18’s defender Jai Balestra at the back, there was an increase in intensity. Gully was now able to gradually make their way up the pitch with an increased effort from
striker Stafan Stojcevski now providing a focal target. Josifovski again produced some excellent saves as the backline were still under increasing pressure from a good attacking team. The effort was much better, however, and Gully now started to look a little more composed themselves.
With 15 minutes of the second stanza gone, substitutes Brayden Portelli and Gavin Tasevski provided immediate impact. Tasevski played the ball wide to Joveski who crossed for the unmarked Portelli to calmly side-foot volley into the bottom corner for a well taken equaliser. It was now game on, and with Port reduced to 10-men Gully had two excellent chances to first Tasevski, then Joveski to steal the game. In the closing stages, Gully finished the match with two 16-year-old centre backs, in Balestra and Justin Spiteri and Josifovski once again rescued the team late in the game. Another under 18 product, goalkeeper Thomas Simic came on for his senior debut towards the end.
A fantastic point away from home against a very good side, that was built on guts, determination and effort.
Report by Asst. Coach Ian Burke.
Photo by: Paul Crossley.