Green Gully Cavaliers, North Sunshine Eagles win epic Cup battles

Sami Naur scored twice for Green Gully on Wednesday night. Picture Steven Tucker

One of the joys of the FFA Cup is following the out-of-town scores.

Invariably, there is a number of shocks that bob up around the grounds every round that make your jaw drop.

You would have thought top-flight Green Gully Cavaliers would have been in for a tough night against state league 1 leader and NPL aspirant Altona Magic before a ball was kicked in the fifth round at Green Gully Reserve on Wednesday, but it was totally the opposite.

The Cavaliers waltzed to a 4-0 win to oust the Magic after doubles to Wade Dekker and Sami Nour.

The Brian Vanega-coached Cavs looked every bit a top-six NPL side as it booked a glamour date with Avondale in the sixth round.

If the much-anticipated Cavaliers and Magic game turned out to be a bit of fizzer, this was in stark contrast to the unforgettable FFA Cup tie between state league 1 clubs North Sunshine Eagles and Preston Lions.

After 120 edge-of-your-seat action-packed minutes, the sides were locked at 4-4.

The atmosphere was electric – back and forth all night on the scoreboard, North Sunshine took the ascendancy 2-1 at half-time after a brace from Diellon Memishi, who would later be substituted with an injury.

Twice Preston equalised, until Edison Ponari gave North Sunshine a 3-2 lead in the 87th minute, which some felt was the clincher.

But Preston would not go away, finding a late leveller through Chris Davies, his third equalising goal, taking the match into extra time.

On fire, Davies put the icing on the cake of a man-of-the-match performance with a fourth goal, giving the 10-man Preston a 4-3 lead. Still North Sunshine had another goal in it – it was just the way this game went, both sides determined not to give ground.

This time, it was Shane Rexhepi, heading home from the corner in stoppage of extra time who took the game into penalties.

North Sunshine was flawless in the penalty shoot-out, scoring on all four attempts to win 4-2, while Eagles’ goalkeeper Frano Saric made a big save early in the same play.

While the FFA Cup can be magic, it has a tendency to be cruel at the same time. Just ask four-goal star Davies, who skied the penalty shot that ultimately eliminated Preston.

North Sunshine will advance to meet NPL powerhouse Hume City in the sixth round.

Meanwhile, Melbourne Knights needed until extra time to get past Banyule City. Scores were locked at 1-1 at the end of regular time before Tom Cahill and Danny Dixon scored to hand Melbourne Knights the victory.

The Knights face Dandenong City in the next round.