The seeds of Cairnlea’s 2-1 win over Sporting Whittlesea in the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 2 at Cairnlea Park on Saturday were planted way back on April 8.
It was 84 days since the Reds travelled to Sporting Whittlesea and were totally dismantled 4-0, leaving Reds coach Kevin Theuma sick to the stomach, knowing that he played a small part in his team’s downfall that day.
With that in the back of his mind, Theuma was not going to make the same tactical mistakes again.
“I think we learned a lot from when we played them previously,” Theuma said. “The last game [against Sporting Whittlesea], I was out-coached, to be honest.
“We just tactically went out there incorrect and they just killed us with a 4-0 score line, and it resembled the absolute smashing that we got. This week, we definitely learned from our mistakes and made quite a few changes to the style of play and how we attacked the game, and it definitely made a big difference.
“We were a bit more physical, without being dirty. We did not allow them to have time and space to play their game.”
It was a sweet victory for Theuma against his former club.
More importantly, it was a first win in three games for Cairnlea, which gets their top five aspirations back on track.
“It’s good to beat the old mob,” Theuma said. “A couple of boys I coached are still there, but they’ve obviously changed a heap of people, so I don’t know a whole heap of people there any more.
“It’s always good to beat your old club, but it’s even better just to get a win.”
Just like the week before, Cairnlea had to fight back from a deficit.
The game prior against Corio, they dug too much of a hole, going down two goals and could only fight back for a draw.
This time, it was more manageable, trailing by a single goal, before Burak Kocak scored an equaliser and Habib Fleifel netted a late winner.
Fleifel’s goal came with about a minute left in a closely-fought game.
“It was a good win in a good game to be honest,” Theuma said. “Both teams played well, but we got a late minute winner, which was good.”
Cairnlea’s defence was rock solid most of the game.
Reds goakeeper Chris Maynard has been in a rich vein of form.
“After round seven, when we brought him in, our results have certainly turned,” Theuma said. “He’s made a big difference to our team.
“He saves you a couple of goals a game from his class.”
Theuma was full of praise for central defenders Salawat Allafta and Yousef Mohamed.
The pair both picked up knocks during the game, but fought on to ensure the Reds were not exposed at the back.
“Both of them were on one leg, injured at half time and probably should’ve come off, but they just wanted to keep battling for the boys,” Theuma said. “We had a couple of injuries during the week, so it was down to about 12 or 13 quality players, so we needed them on.”
Cairnlea, sitting eighth on the ladder with 17 points, is a young side still finding its feet, but they want to finish off the season on a high note when play resumes after the break.
“It’s a young group and we’ve sort of started again this season,” Theuma said. “The aim is to try and jump a few spots and finish in the top five by the end of the season and propel us into 2018.”