Flashback to 1986 for Green Gully

Green Gully’s George Lambadaridis played A-League with Brisbane Roar and made his debut in 2012 against Central Coast. Picture Luke Hemer

Can they do it on a cold and windy Wednesday night in Keilor Downs?

That will be the question asked of A-League club Central Coast Mariners after drawing Green Gully Cavaliers in the FFA Cup national round of 32.

The date of the match has yet to be decided

The Cavaliers were the fourth-last ball drawn out of the pot and were delighted when they realised it would set up a date with a fully professional A-League opponent.

“The boys are pumped,” Cavaliers coach Arthur Papas told Star Weekly.

“At this point of the competition, if you draw an A-League team, they come to your venue.

“They’re going to be confronted with something you don’t get in the A-League, in terms of a Wednesday night at Green Gully and all the variables like the club rooms and conditions.

“We’re going to make it as difficult as possible for them.”

It will be a night when Green Gully finally makes its long-awaited return to the national stage.

Older Cavaliers fans will fondly recall the days when the club was in the old National Soccer League 30 years ago, and this will be like going back to 1986.

“It means a lot to get back on the national stage,” Papas said. “[This] club has been so successful domestically but hasn’t really been spoken about at national level for 30 years.

“For this group of players and staff to be able to help get us back to where we’re being spoken about on national TV, is great for the club.

“It can have a real positive flow-on to the junior set-up and maybe to improving infrastructure.”

But beating Central Coast will not be easy, even though the Mariners were the A-League wooden-spooners last season. Papas expects a vastly different side to the one that finished 12 points adrift on the bottom.

“They’ll have a lot of personnel changes and will want to improve on last season,” he said.

“I’d expect Central Coast to come to our ground and try to take the game to us and be proactive with how they come to play.

“The onus is on them to get a result and whatever we do is a bonus.”

In Green Gully’s favour is that the NPL is in the middle of its season.

But with the A-League season not starting until October, the Green Gully match will be the first proper hit-out for the Mariners.

Papas is also rallying the local community, and particularly the club’s juniors, to pack out Green Gully Reserve and make it an intimidating atmosphere for the Mariners.

“We expect to get a good crowd there,” Papas said. “We have a large junior base and I’d expect to see every Green Gully junior in a tracksuit that night representing our club and making the environment as daunting as possible.

“It’s not easy playing an A-League club, but it’s an opportunity.

“On any given day it’s 11 against 11.

“Absolutely they have the advantage of being a professional team and we don’t have some of the luxuries they have, but you can’t replace spirit and we have a fantastic spirit within the group.”

Meanwhile, Melbourne Knights have drawn a home game in the FFA Cup against WA club side Cockburn City, who are coached by former Perth Glory defender Scott Miller.

In the NPL, Green Gully consolidated fourth spot with a 1-0 win over Port Melbourne Sharks at SS Anderson Oval on Friday night.

Liam Boland scored again for the Cavaliers – his second in three league games and eighth for the season.