In a contest riddled with incident and drama, Green Gully SC faced off against Altona Magic SC in what turned out to be a tumultuous evening for the home side. The Round 5 clash of the 2024 NPL Victoria Men’s season, hosted at Green Gully Soccer Reserve, was a see-saw battle that ultimately ended in disappointment for Gully, who were seeking redemption after a stinging defeat to Heidelberg United.
Gully’s line-up reflected the enforced absences with Adam coming into the starting XI in place of the injured Lucas Derrick and Kuku stepping in for the suspended Taylor Schrijvers, with Josh Hope donning the captain’s armband.
The match ignited into action with Altona Magic asserting early pressure, winning two corners in rapid succession. It was Gully, however, who registered the first shot on target through Tevere, signaling their intent. Josh Hope, leading the line in Derrick’s absence, unleashed a shot wide after a rapid counter initiated by Koudakpo — a foretaste of the open, attacking football to come.
In the 13th minute, Rezai chested in the opening goal for Magic, capping off a fluid move down the right flank initiated by Sehavdic and ably assisted by Juach’s precise cross. Magic’s goal ushered in a period of ascendancy, reflected by a subsequent wide shot in the 19th minute.
Gully’s resilience was epitomized in the 32nd minute when goalkeeper Driscoll, injured in a corner scramble, was substituted for Murfet, with the lengthy pause doing little to disrupt the match’s intensity.
Juach continued to trouble Gully’s defence, carving opportunities down the right, while Kuku endured a nerve-racking moment, nearly costing Gully dearly due to a defensive mishap, only to be let off by an over-the-bar miss.
The first half concluded with a resurgence from Gully, culminating in Koudakpo‘s equalizing header, capitalizing on a set-piece situation drawn by Hope‘s industrious run and foul suffered at the hands of Skendervic.
The second half began much as the first had ended, with Koudakpo delivering a tantalizing ball that narrowly eluded Adam. Tevere’s subsequent blocked shot preceded his eventual goal, as Hope‘s mazy run and centering pass provided Tevere with the time and space to roof his shot and mark his third consecutive goal at Green Gully Reserve this season.
However, the parity was short-lived. Rezai netted his second, another close-range finish following Fabrizio’s assist, drawing the teams level once more.
The match teetered back and forth, with Hope and Koudakpo linking up to create chances, yet the Magic remained potent on the counter, with Juach capitalizing on some nimble footwork from Rezai to tap in the go-ahead goal.
Gully’s endeavors to claw back were dealt a heavy blow with Kuku‘s dismissal for a last-man challenge on Fabrizio, tilting the scale decisively in Magic’s favor.
As the match entered its dying embers, Moukachar’s curled effort from distance sealed a 4-2 victory for Altona Magic, handing Gully a bitter pill to swallow in a game that oscillated with hope and heartbreak.
For Green Gully SC, the challenge now is to find the equilibrium that eluded them this evening; to blend their offensive prowess with defensive solidity and to navigate the remainder of the season with the wisdom gleaned from these early trials.