By Lance Jenkinson
Green Gully has conquered the toughest challenge in NPL Victoria.
Alex Salmon scored the winning goal in second-half stoppage time to lead the Cavaliers to a 2-1 win over runaway ladder leader Avondale at Avenger Park on Saturday.
Salmon, the competition’s leading goal scorer, was played in by Cavaliers defender Daniel Jones, took on the last defender and powered it past the goalkeeper to spark wild celebrations on the visitors’ bench.
Salmon revealed that encouragement from Cavaliers midfielder Jay Davies played a part in him taking on the last defender and working into a one-on-one position with the goalkeeper to score the winner.
“I could hear Jay behind me just saying, ‘Get at him’, so that’s what I did,” Salmon said. “I just took him on, their keeper came out and luckily I just found the corner with my shot.”
Even when Green Gully found itself a goal down after eight minutes when Liam Boland, a former Cavs player, scored for Avondale, Salmon had belief.
“Everyone knows in and around the squad, we’ve got quality players,” Salmon said. “I don’t think we ever struggle to score goals, so it was just important to not let your heads go down when you concede a goal with a lot of time left.”
Green Gully got back into the contest when Andy Brennan coolly slotted an equaliser before half-time. The Cavaliers fed off that goal and a positive team talk from coach Stephen Downes at the break.
“He said if we bring the same intensity and everything we had been doing in the first half and take that into the second, we’d win the game – and that’s what we did,” Salmon said.
The win was significant for Green Gully because it had drawn all four earlier matches in June. Getting three points and solidfying their spot in fifth – five points inside the top six – was a weight off the Cavalier shoulders.
“There’s been a lot of drama in the last couple of minutes in the last couple of weeks,” Salmon said. “It was nice to be in the right end of one this week. The lads stuck together, they worked hard and we got our reward in the end.”
Green Gully will host South Melbourne in a blockbuster on Saturday from 3pm at Green Gully Reserve.
Meanwhile, Melbourne Knights left Port Melbourne with glum faces after a 2-1 loss at SS Anderson Oval on Saturday evening.
Mohamed Awad put the Knights ahead in the 62nd minute, but the Sharks claimed all three points with late goals to Yuta Konagaya and Finn Beakhurst.
In NPL Women’s, Calder United scored three goals in each half in a 6-0 win over Bayside United at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex.
Catherine Zimmerman scored a double for Calder with the rest coming in singles from Adriana Taranto, Melissa Taranto, Angela Beard and substitute Polly Doran.