Hold your tickets on Altona East Phoenix being relegated from the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 1.
The Phoenix went down 1-0 to title contenders Geelong in the catch-up round at Paisley Park Soccer Complex on Saturday, a result that should have confirmed their demotion to the second tier.
But the Phoenix has lodged a protest over the result to the FFV, believing that Geelong played an ineligible player in Saturday’s game.
The Phoenix has written to the FFV suggesting that Slave Bozinovski should not have played for Geelong after accumulating a fifth yellow card the previous week.
The Phoenix had two players – Joel Bistricki and Emilio Benjamin – ineligible because of yellow card accumulation.
“We’re still a chance to get the game reversed in our favour,” Phoenix president Jim Dimitriou said.
“We’ve put in a complaint tonight that they played a player that shouldn’t have been playing because he was on five yellow cards. He got his fifth yellow card last week, which means he should automatically miss the next week.”
The yellow card register is available for all clubs to use on the FFV’s official website.
Altona East used it to notify Bistricki and Benjamin of their ineligibility to play against Geelong.
“What some clubs do is say unless we get notified by the federation [over e-mail], we play them,” Dimitriou said.
“They try to say they got no official notification.
“We got an e-mail on Wednesday saying two of our players got five yellows, but we knew that anyway because we keep a tab on our yellow card register and tell guys to be careful when they have a certain amount of cards.
“That’s what clubs should be doing, otherwise why waste your time doing it every week if teams aren’t going to look at it?”
A single goal from Antonio Sanchez Campos was enough to sink Altona East.
But the Phoenix made the second-placed Geelong sweat for the full 90 minutes.
“We put up a good fight,” Dimitriou said.
“We had a chance to go one-nil up but we hit the post in the first half, while they got a goal in the second half and held on to it.
“Our players were disappointed, more so because they put up a really good fight undermanned and that one goal killed us.”
If the result is not overturned and Altona East is relegated, the Phoenix has vowed to fight tooth and nail in the remaining two games in a bid to get off the bottom of the ladder.
The Phoenix will play second-last Westgate in their last home game of the season at Paisley Park on Saturday, followed by another meeting with Geelong.
The protest will be closely followed by Altona East’s co-tenants Altona Magic, who is involved in a two-horse race with Geelong for the title.
Meanwhile, Alan Davidson has indicated to Altona East he would like to continue on as coach next season. The former Socceroo took over the position in the latter stages of this season and has warmed to the task.
“I’ve spoken to Alan and he’s keen to help us again next year,” Dimitriou said.