Finals are locked in for Green Gully for a second consecutive season after a 1-0 win over Hume City in the National Premier League Victoria penultimate round at Green Gully Reserve on Saturday night.
The Cavaliers have been one of the form teams of the competition, winning four games in a row and undefeated in the past six, but only at the end of 90 hard-fought minutes against Hume did they secure a spot in the finals.
“The three points were very important with the way the results had gone,” Cavaliers coach Arthur Papas said.
“We confirmed that, at a minimum, we’re going to play finals.”
If you think Green Gully is content with just figuring in the top six, think again.
In a tight race, the Cavaliers can still finish as high as second or as low as sixth, so this Sunday’s final round with Pascoe Vale at Green Gully Reserve has plenty riding on it.
“We have an opportunity to have a home final and if we can get that it would be a great achievement,” Papas said.
“Prior to arriving at the club, it hadn’t been in the finals for a few years and now we’re going for consecutive finals series, so it’s been very positive.
“We’ll finish the season, unless something changes dramatically, as the top goalscoring team in the league.”
Alex Caniglia scored the game’s only goal in the sixth minute in Green Gully’s narrow victory over Hume City. It was Caniglia’s first start since he injured a calf mid season and he showed a glimpse of what he could provide the Cavaliers in the finals.
“He’s been back for a month, but the type of injury that he had, we had to be careful when we decided to start him,” Papas said.
“He’s been training really well, he’s got some rhythm back in his game and his goal was top quality.”
Luke Walker had a major impact in the Green Gully defence. Tasked largely with the role of nullifying Hume danger man Liam Boland, a former Cavaliers player, Walker rose to the challenge and won the key battle.
“Hume are the type of team that play very direct, long balls and diagonal balls, so we needed to be able to contest in those areas a lot better than we would normally and he was outstanding,” Papas said.
Callum Richardson came through his first game since July unscathed. It meant that, all of a sudden, Green Gully has a full quota of players to pick from on the eve of the finals.
“I’m not someone that, when you win a game, you have to keep the same XI for next week and the players know that,” Papas said.
“There’s 17 players that are competing for 11 spots at the moment.”
In NPL2, Sunshine George Cross moved up to third in the west conference after upsetting Dandenong Thunder 1-0 on the back of a David Younan goal. The Georgies will round out the season in a clash with Whittlesea Ranges back at Chaplin Reserve on Saturday.
In women’s NPL, Calder United’s bid for the Premier Plate took a hit after a 1-0 loss to Geelong Galaxy United at Banyul-Warri Fields on Saturday.