The short trip around the corner from Green Gully Reserve to Churchill Avenue was the setting for the Round 9 match away against St. Albans Saints. There was extra spice to the contest too, with the Saints line-up containing 3 former Green Gully youngsters, who would all have a point to prove. Once again, the Gully line-up was depleted through injury, however, the players stepping up from the club’s Under 18 set-up have fitted in seamlessly. New signing Thomas Magarelli was also given his first start after a cameo appearance the previous round.
Gully started on the front foot and were dominating possession in the opening stanza, although a lack of finish in the attacking third was their downfall. Numerous chances fell their way, however, with none of them taken, there was always going to be a danger as the Saints countered with pace and a direct style.
Gully was dealt a blow with Jacob Kitanovski-Groba forced from the field with what looked like a nasty knee injury. Soon after, the inability to convert any of the chances proved to be extra costly, with Saints going ahead on the half hour mark. Gully bounced back, but still couldn’t find the net and they were then further punished after a Saints player was left unmarked at the far post to score a simple header. The work rate and effort were there, but the Gully side were lacking some polish going forward.
HALF TIME 2 – 0
Coming out for the second half, Gully once again started on the front foot, pushing forward with intent, and looking to be the fitter side. Just short of 60 minutes and they were back in the game, with Brodie Sposato pulling one back. Immediately the Saints side looked a little shell-shocked and the momentum had turned.
With further introductions from the bench, the youngsters in green and white went searching for an equaliser. Sposato was now imposing himself on the contest and after putting a good chance on a plate for Brayden Portelli which was saved. Substitute Julian Sandoval added further impetus out wide. After receiving the ball and nut-megging the centre back he centred the ball for Sposato, who still had work to do. Surrounded by two defenders he turned and then reversed his shot into the bottom corner to make it 2-2. It was an exceptional goal with great creativity from both players.
Captain Nicholas Giarizzo and Alex Cepiviroski were pulling the strings in the middle and were outworking the Saints. Full backs Jordan Vartuli and Justin Spiteri were joining the attacks where possible and it appeared one-way traffic. With just minutes to go, the Saints sprung a counterattack and as goalkeeper Thomas Simic raced off his line to force the save, the ball bounced goalward and was cleared off the line. It was so very nearly heartbreak for the away side.
As the clock wound down there was a chance for one final attack. Nicolas Valenzuela won the ball in the centre of the park and found a good ball out wide for fellow substitute Sandoval. After cutting inside the full back, and at least 35 metres from goal, unleashed a spectacular effort into the top corner of the net. The Saints goalkeeper was left completely helpless by the unstoppable effort. A comeback of huge proportion that will now hopefully give this young Gully side confidence for the next few weeks.
FINAL SCORE 2 – 3
Report by Asst. Coach Ian Burke
Photo by Mark Avellino Photography