Cairnlea produced a late show to overcome a plucky Craigieburn City 2-0 in the FFA Cup at Gibb Reserve on Saturday.
The Reds scored two goals in three minutes in the dying stages of the game to avoid a potential banana peel slip-up against a team two leagues below them on the Football Federation Victoria pyramid.
Joel Bistricki finally broke the deadlock for the Reds in the 87th minute before in-form striker Habib Fleifel provided an insurance goal two minutes later.
Fleifel was the star of the Reds’ come-from-behind win over the Western Eagles the previous week when he banged in four of his teams five goals.
Reds coach Kevin Theuma was pleased to see his team finish games strongly.
“Last year, we gave up a lot of leads after half-time, so it was almost tables turned in that we’re winning games late instead of losing games late,” he said.
“There’s a lot more fight in the belly, which is a good sign leading into round one.”
Cairnlea was nowhere near full strength for the game, but Theuma was taking nothing away from Craigieburn City and the threat they presented.
The Reds are waiting for a clearance to come through for overseas recruits Thomas Wellington and Davut Tahir.
Both players will be contending for a spot in the Reds’ midfield.
Irrespective of the make up of the team, Theuma would not use it as an excuse, but rather a great chance to evaluate what his players can do in different roles.
“We were pretty undermanned, had a few boys missing, but the boys did well,” he said.
“It was a good hit out and Craigieburn is a good side to be honest.
“We tried a couple of boys in different positions, chopped and changed a few bits and pieces and most of the boys stood up.
“It was good for me to look at some boys in different areas and see they can do a job if needed.”
Cairnlea is delighted to have a ball in the pot for today’s draw for the next round.
The Reds could have the chance to face a top-tier side with the NPL clubs to have their names in the draw.
With no cup action next weekend, the Reds will face Lalor in a preseason friendly this weekend.