Photo: Natasha Morello
There was a wide-spread relief across the park after the final whistle at the Veneto Club on Monday night as a 10-man Bulleen Lions held on to a 2-1 victory over the fast-closing Kingston City.
Not only was it the nail-biting fashion in which the young side claimed the three points that had built up the tension, it was also the weeks building up to the game that had heightened it.
It was the culmination of weeks worth of dissapointment results wise, as the club slipped to four straight defeats and an FFA Cup exit at the hands of Dandenong City – the former side of coach Aaron Healey.
The long-time Melbourne Victory assistant admitted his side’s barren run was tough to swallow given he believed their performances have warranted more than the eight points they’ve accrued so far this campaign.
“You always envisage that you’ll win every game and it’ll be fine,” Healey said.
“We’ve got a young side – with an average age of 21-and-a-half years – but that’s not an excuse. We’ve had a tough last couple of weeks, but we started reasonably well with [a point against] South Melbourne, then with 10 men against Oakleigh.
“We lost to Green Gully then after we won against North Geelong – after that, it’s been pretty tough for us but it was good for the group to get a result. It would have been gutting if we’d have drawn or lost that one.
“I think we’ve had a few games this season where we could’ve got points but we haven’t consistently put together a 90 minute performance of yet,” he added.
“Playing against 12 men with 10 tonight, I thought it was an immense performance that showed the character within the dressing room.”
The young talent that the Bulleen Lions boast stood up on the day, with mature performances across the park in the face of adversity.
Youngster Jordan Templin was on form with two goals either side of the break, although after Nicholas Voulgaris was sent off on the hour mark for a second yellow, it required the young leaders of Bulleen to pull together and rally to secure the full complement of points.
“Our leadership group that we’ve got is pretty much 21-23 year olds. I think the oldest player we have is 26, so they’re continually developing and they’ll continue to do so,” Healey said.
“I think that tonight was a bit of reward for some of the points that we haven’t gotten in the past few weeks. Certainly the last week has been tough, but they’ve responded in the best way possible.
“I think there’s a belief with what we’re trying to do. Obviously there has been some disappointing results and performances but at the end of the day you have to keep some perspective.
“No one has died and it’s only a game of football, you get the next week to respond – I always go back to that. I thought they responded tonight, the effort, the work-ethic, everything like that was spot on.”
Healey is hoping his young charges can carry the momentum into their next few fixtures, hoping this result acts as a springboard for success in the coming weeks.
They have two massive fixtures against the struggling St Albans Saints and a Port Melbourne outfit fresh off a 3-0 thrashing of the Bentleigh Greens, which will further clarify their standing in the league this season.
Bulleen then face a tough mini-run of fixtures, which include a tie against league leaders Avondale FC, but Healey believes each game needs to be played on its merits, and will set his side out to play for the win.
“At the end of the day, we want to play whoever – it’s three points home and away and no game is more important than another to me.
“It’s a cliché but at the end of the day, we want to go out with three points up for grabs, which we want try and get them.
“We’ve never come out and sat to play defensively, although to be fair we had to today a bit as we were a man down. We’ve always tried to play and we’ll continue to do so.”