Image: Smile for Peter
Bentleigh Greens and Hume City have become the first two Victorian clubs to seal their progression to the national stage of the FFA Cup after wins over Green Gully and Moreland City respectively last night.
Both member federation clubs with arguably the richest histories in the competition as former semi-finalists, this marks their third appearance each on the national front as they prepare to embark on another deep run.
At Kingston Heath, Bentleigh were up against last year’s giant killers and quarter-finalists Green Gully and were up against it early.
The opening goal to the visitors came just three minutes into the contest when a long diagonal ball was controlled by Nick Krousoratis, burning his man and slotting the ball into the bottom corner.
Green Gully enjoyed the early exchanges but it’s impossible to write Bentleigh off, and just like that they struck back from Troy Ruthven who elegantly curled in a free-kick in trademark style.
Matters got worse for the visitors when the heart of the side’s defence, captain Daniel Jones, was sent off before the break for a second bookable offence which seemed to catch everyone by surprise.
It gave Bentleigh the advantage in personnel on the park and they took full advantage later in the second half when Ben Litfin found Brennan with a lofted pass down the wing; the ex-Newcastle Jet put his head down and dribbled towards the byline, making space for the cutback which was pinpoint to Matt Thurtell, who stuck his boot out and knocked the ball in for the hosts’ lead.
The predatory Brennan then found himself on the scoresheet almost right from the restart when pouncing on a tame pass by keeper Rani Dowisha out of defence, stroking the ball into the back of the net for 3-1 and giving Gully a mountain to climb.
They nearly did rise late in proceedings when a good passing move which wasn’t dealt with by Bentleigh ended in Wade Dekker flicking on for Krousoratis to net his second and reduce the deficit to just the one.
However, a tired Gully couldn’t muster the third, with Krousoratis having one of the last opportunities that blazed past the woodwork on the stroke of full time.
At ABD Stadium, Hume City put their wretched league form behind them to make the most of another favourable cup draw to eliminate Moreland City 4-0 and seal their progression.
It was a fairly straightforward encounter from the outset as a wonderful James McGarry outside-of-the-foot delivery undid the visitors and found the head of Liam Boland for the opener.
Hume carried the 1-0 lead into the break before Daniel Clark then found Nick Hegarty who expertly cut in and finished at the near post to strike another dagger into Moreland’s heart.
Former Brisbane Roar youth Nicholas Panetta then essentially killed off the contest, also cutting in for a curled finish, with McGarry notching up another assist.
Hegarty saved the best for last as he dribbled past a few defenders, playing a one-two with Panetta to round the keeper and finish into an open net to seal the 4-0 in spectacular fashion.
Not a bad introduction for new senior coach Ufuk Kubilayhan, for whom the occasion marked his first game in charge at ABD Stadium after a recent coaching restructure by the club.