A five-minute lapse late in the game has seen Hoppers Crossing miss out on maximum points in a 2-2 draw with Western Suburbs in the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 1 at Ralph Reserve on Saturday.
The Reds led by two goals late in the second half courtesy of star recruit Jason Hayne, but they coughed up the lead when Suburbs substitute Fernando Nunez played the role of the home side hero with a double of his own.
Reds coach Shaun Barbara left the ground with a hollow feeling, knowing his side had dominated large chunks of the game, particularly in the first half.
“After the first half and going 1-0 up at the break and putting in a really good performance, we’re probably not entirely happy with a draw to be fair,” he said.
Eyeing off a second maximum points game in as many weeks after being awarded a default victory for Sydenham Park playing a suspended player in round one, Hoppers Crossing appeared on track to do so at half-time. But the half-time whistle did halt its momentum.
While Hayne was first to find the back of the net in the second half to double the Reds half-time lead, his team also began to play more conservatively and gave Suburbs a bit more possession in deeper areas.
Suburbs took full advantage and their pressure eventually turned into goal and they were able to salvage a point through Nunez.
“We spoke at half-time that we didn’t have to go and chase the game because we were 1-0 up, so to pick the right moments when to exploit them and try to go forward.
“Whether that’s a little bit lost in translation or we started to be a little bit too conservative was probably one of those things,” he said.
Hayne, a new acquisition, has been on target for Hoppers Crossing. The former Altona Magic frontman scored two goals against Point Cook in the FFA Cup over Easter and another two against Suburbs.
“He’s proven to be very clinical around the 18-yard box,” Barbara said.
When Hoppers Crossing was on top in the game, it was the likes of midfielders Simon Tolli, Matthew Scott and Daniel Sweeney, and full-backs Kyoungjin Jeong and Dane Garbett who provided plenty of drive.
Barbara refused to pinpoint individuals for praise on this occasion, saying it was an impressive effort all round.
Hoppers Crossing will face the highly rated Geelong at Grange Reserve on Saturday.
In state league 3, Point Cook lost 2-1 to Moreland United at Saltwater Reserve. Tapiwanashe Munyanyiwa scored for the Jets in the second half, but United did its damage in the first 45 minutes for a two goal lead.
In state league 4, Truganina Hornets romped to a 5-1 win over Golden Plains at Bannockburn Recreation Precinct. Iidle Elmi fired in a double for the Hornets, while captain Federico Rossini, Abdullahi Salad and Giorgio Torelli also got on the scoresheet.
In state league 5, Paul Dickie scored for West Point, but his team went down 2-1 to the Keilor Wolves at Arndell Park Reserve.