By Lance Jenkinson
Caroline Springs George Cross will be riding a wave of momentum when the new Football Victoria state league 1 season kicks off on March 23.
The new-look Georgies were ecstatic to advance to the next round of the FFA Cup after a stirring 3-2 extra time third round win over Yarraville Glory at the Paisley Park Soccer Complex on Saturday.
Georgies coach Corey Smith could sense enthusiasm and togetherness in the players following the win.
“Being a young squad and pretty ambitious, they were absolutely buzzing at the end,” Smith said. “The celebration when we scored the winner and after the game was real good.
“They can enjoy that now, but they also understand we’ve got the league coming up, which is really important.”
A see-sawing game saw Caroline Springs and Yarraville exchange periods of momentum.
Whenever the Georgies felt like they were getting on top in the contest, the Glory would inevitably hit back.
Twice the Georgies took the lead and twice they were reeled back in.
“I thought we were the best team by far for the first 20 minutes,” Smith said.
“We took the lead, but they got a goal straight back, which was a bit against the run of play at that stage and they had a good period before half-time.
“I thought the second half we were slightly the better team once again, scored a goal to make it 2-1 and then they got a second wind, put us under pressure and scored a goal, and then pushed quite a bit towards the end of the 90.” The fresh legs of Caroline Springs’ substitutes proved the difference in the extra time period of 30 minutes.
Kobe Kemp, Deng Aguek and James Kemal all had a positive influence when they were brought on. Kemal, who was lively on the wing, stole the headlines with a match-winning goal with eight minutes left in the game.
The other positive for Caroline Springs was the performances of new recruits Hugh Undy and Dominic Swinton.
Both Undy, who transferred from Olympia FC Warriors in Tasmania, and Swinton, who joined from Ballarat City, scored on debut.
“They were our two starting wingers today,” Smith said.
“I thought their tactical understanding was quite strong throughout.”
Midfielder Daniel Slovacek showed why he was immediately installed as Caroline Springs captain after crossing from NPL side St Albans Saints.
“He was on another level,” Smith said. “I thought he was the best player on the pitch by a fair distance. When the game was in the balance, he was the guy who always stood up.”
In other FFA Cup results, Westgate was a big winner, mauling Ballarat 5-0, while North Sunshine Eagles had East Brighton United in the firing line in a 4-1 win.
Sydenham Park pipped Mornington 1-0, while Keilor Park beat Peninsula Strikers with the same scoreline. There were defeats for Albion Rovers, outplayed 3-0 by Essendon Royals, and Brimbank Stallions, who lost on penalties to Essendon Royals.