Goulburn Valley Suns under-20 team has put up a brave showing against Oakleigh Cannons despite being undermanned in its National Premier League debut.DAMEN FRANCIS March 17, 2014 4:05am
Goulburn Valley Suns under-20 coach Serkan Aktas hopes Saturday’s brave first-up showing against Oakleigh Cannons convinces more players to join the club.
The short-handed Suns went down 3-1 in their National Premier League debut at McEwen Reserve, but showed plenty of guts and determination against a much more organised and experienced opponent.
‘‘The first 10 minutes were a little bit shaky and we started in the worst possible way, conceding a goal and then from a set piece, but after the game the boys came off with a bit of confidence,’’ Aktas said.
‘‘I’m quite proud of them, (Oakleigh) controlled the game, but that was expected and I was very happy we didn’t fall away at the end.
‘‘If we get a couple more (players) we’re going to be fine. That team was a pretty good team and I’ve already had three or four phone calls from players we’ve been chasing.’’
There were grave concerns early, when the Suns conceded an easy goal inside the opening few minutes.
Cannons wide man Liam Heilberg was afforded far too much space and strolled into the penalty area, before rolling a shot past Suns keeper Jake Keating.
Keating was left exposed again a short time later, when Rowan McNamee headed home Gianni Allebi’s well-weighted set piece unopposed to make it 2-0.
However, the home side got itself together and started causing the visitors problems.
Tatura’s Joey Hogarty captained the side and had the honour of scoring the first goal in Suns colours.
Cannons keeper Evan Kraloglou came racing out of his penalty box to intercept a long ball, but lost possession to Suns winger Ramah Taya, who instead of blazing away, lifted his head and squared to Hogarty who took a touch and fired into the roof of the net from the edge of the area.
It was a wonderful moment for the fledgling club and a team that included three 15-year-old players and only one substitute, compared to the Cannons’ full squad of 20 — mainly top age — players.
Austin Wong made it 3-1 midway through the second half and while numerous other chances went begging, the Suns walked away with their heads held high.
The Regional Premier League experience of Hogarty and Riley Hamilton, who marshalled the defence superbly, was clear, while Taya proved a terrific outlet all day.
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