The Magic of the Cup: Round of 16 (Melbourne Knights)

Continuing my journey through the 2016 FFA Cup from the very beginning. I started off with my local side Backpackers FC and had followed them until they were knocked out by Curtin Uni, who fell to Stirling Lions. The Lions were eliminated by Cockburn City, who in turn were eliminated by the Melbourne Knights.  I will now follow that side until they are defeated and will follow that side and so on and so forth.

Who knows where I’ll end up…

ROUND ONE – BACKPACKERS FC 8 v Western United (Sunday Division 5) 0

ROUND TWO – Fremantle Croatia (Sunday Premier League) 4 v BACKPACKERS FC 4 (Backpackers won 4-2 on penalties)

ROUND THREEBACKPACKERS FC 2 v Bunbury Dynamos (South West Premier League) 0

ROUND FOUR – Curtin University (Saturday Division 2) 4 v BACKPACKERS FC 2

ROUND FIVE – CURTIN UNIVERSITY 2 v Canning City (Saturday Division 1) 0

ROUND SIX – Stirling Lions (NPL WA) 4 v CURTIN UNIVERSITY 2

ROUND SEVEN – STIRLING LIONS (NPL WA) 1 Cockburn City 2

ROUND OF 32 – Melbourne Knights (NPL VIC) 2 COCKBURN CITY 1

 

ROUND OF 16 – Tuesday August 30

MELBOURNE KNIGHTS (Victorian National Premier League) v Green Gully FC (Victorian National Premier League).

Unless Glory got further in to the tournament, the West Australian side of my journey in the 2016 FFA Cup was over following the loss by a brave Cockburn City to the Melbourne Knights. The Knights were now my club and faced Green Gully FC in the ‘Brimbank Derby’ in the Round of 16.

Like their opponents, Green Gully are a former NSL club and mainstay in the top division of Victoria. Like the Knights the club was also formed by post war immigrants with the club catering for the local Maltese population. The club adopted the green of Maltese club Floriana, and originally were based in Kealba before moving to their current home at Green Gully. On the pitch the club were strong and much like Hawthorn when they had winning eras they made them count. Their first league title win ended up being a threepeat in the early 80s. Then Green Gully again put together a super team winning five league titles in the 12 years from 1999 to 2011.

These days they are still strong and feature a mix of players from different backgrounds and contain a strong all inclusive effort. A-League winning ex-Victory defender Rodrigo Vargas and a sprinkling of ex A-League youth players and grafters feature in the current team coached by former Jets assistant coach Arthur Papas. This club had also eliminated the Central Coast Mariners in the Round of 32 through a wonder goal from West Australian Liam Boland. Boland had joked on twitter to legendary Socceroo Ned Zelic that he would score a cracker and no-one was more surprised than him when he delivered. With all of this the Knights had a challenge, even with their unique home ground advantage out in Sunshine.

Once again I was unable to get over to Melbourne for the game (numerous excuses if you want them) so it was time to be a laptop casual once again through MIXLR.

The dryer weather and a local rival meant the crowd was a little larger for the Knights and much like against Cockburn they went on the attack from the get go to unsettle and get the crowd into the match. After 3 minutes the scorer of the winner in the last round Stipo Andrijasevic hit the upright as the home side had Green Gully all keystone cops at the back. After 8 minutes the Knights again got behind the Gully defence but luckily the erstwhile ex-Knight Vargas got across to cover Cvitkovic before he could get the shot away.

The chances kept coming for the Knights but they still couldn’t convert with the locals fervent with their support in the Viduka Stand. On 12 minutes Grgic (not the former Bulldog beanpole) headed over by inches from a corner when perhaps the much maligned Dog would have done better. Then just when you thought Gully had settled and the Knights were ruing their wasted early chances the home side had the lead after Andrijasevic poked home the ball during a goalmouth scramble with the keeper coming off his line and getting himself stranded. More than deserved for the home side.

Although the Knights were all over Green Gully, with the home side looking to continue to dominate, just five minutes after the opener the visitors had it back to 1-1 and it was that man Boland who saw his rather athletic near post header thunder in to the underside of the crossbar and bounce a few inches over the line in shades of 1966 at Wembley. This wasn’t North West London though, it was the outer reaches of the western suburbs of Melbourne and the Knights and their fans were stunned.

The Knights had a couple of corners but Gully now took the ascendency, taking the local support out of the game. The trio of Davies, Richardson and Christodoulo put their stamp on the midfield giving Boland and Nicholas Krousoratis plenty of supply while the Knights strikers got scraps. The Knights had another dangerous corner cleared before Krousoratis had a golden chance go begging at the other end. Was it now the turn of Gully to waste chances much like the Knights had? Well, no. After the Knights lost the ball in attack Gully got them on the break. Krousoratis received the ball on the half way line and sprinted up to the edge of the penalty area, wrong footing his marker and then sending a magnificent shot past the despairing keeper to make it 2-1 eight minutes before half time.

The Knights made a change at half time with Grgic off for Damian Miskulin but Gully were cagey, defensive and closing down at every opportunity as the game stopped being so free flowing and the visitors used the fierce wind to their advantage. The Knights were looking to make it 2-2 but were prone to mistakes which Gully would eat up; Walker’s close range shot some 10 minutes in was well saved by the Knights keeper. Krousoratis and Boland were still giving the Knights kittens up front with the latter set up by the former but the shot trickled wide. With some 25 minutes left a neat chain of passing saw Krousoratis through on goal but frustration eventually got the better of the Knights defender Miskulin who hacked down the striker and was sent off through a second yellow.

Now down to 10 men the Knights had to get their faculties together and defend the resulting free kick which smashed in to an upright. The Knights were still hanging on but it only took one minute for ill-discipline to cost them again. Davies, a workhorse throughout the match providing the strikers, was clipped as he jinked in to the penalty area and was given the penalty. Boland had the chance to score again and put the game to bed promptly burying the shot low and to the keeper’s right to make it 3-1.

His job done, Krousoratis was subbed as Green Gully parked the bus and saw out the game even with Boland almost getting a hattrick and the Knights having one shot saved superbly. Vargas had shown that even at age 37 he could still marshal a decent back four. The Knights had fired their shots early, wasted some chances and then gone belly up bowing out of the cup to rivals some six kilometers down the road in a national competition. To show how much it means to these teams just check out the video of Gully celebrating the win in the change rooms. The players then had a beer (semi professional don’t forget!) and watched the draw for the next round in the Knights Social Club as the coach did his press conference at another end of the bar, the pull up banner of the club sponsors covering the location.

A magnificent, patient and well drilled effort from Gully who now travel to Canberra to face Canberra Olympic in the quarter finals. They are two of the four non A-League teams left in the competition. The winner will be in a semi-final which would be a brilliant achievement. Hopefully being a Canberra game I can bullshit some Government grant or work some other miracle to send me there.

The future is now Green! The future for me is Green Gully!

MELBOURNE KNIGHTS 1 (Andrijasevic 23) GREEN GULLY 3 (Boland 28, 75 PEN Krousoratis 39)

CROWD – 2472. A much bigger crowd with drier weather and a local rival playing. Still not up to their NSL level crowds though.  

ATMOPSHERE – N/A.

FACILITIES – If the same as my visit a few years ago, more than adequate. 

EATS/DRINKS FACILITIES – As above. 

Green Gully are away to Canberra Olympic in the next round on Tuesday September 27.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. This is like the unofficial World Cup, Dennis. It started when Scotland beat England 3-2 in 1967 thus knocking off the World Cup holder. Scotland held the title until defeated. North Korea held it at one point. I need to check who holds it now. But I like the principle you are adopting.

  2. Uruguay, Australia’s nemesis in the FIFA version, until 2005 that is, are the current holders.

  3. Great stuff Dennis. Your “frogger”-type supporting is truly something which lends itself to a knockout competition.

  4. Dennis Gedling says:

    Thanks guys. The way this is being done is what anorak wearing trainspotters do in Europe most years with stuff like the FA Cup (which starts some 8 months out from the final at Wembley). No A-League club yet and having local amateur set ups as been great and will last until at least the semi finals.

    Roy, there is a website that focuses on the Boxing style World Cup competition format somewhere. I think we had a chance to win it a couple of years ago (it might have been against Japan in the Asian Cup) but we blew it. We could have been someone! We could have been contenders!

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