Hoppers Crossing was out of the blocks like a greyhound chasing a rabbit in a 4-1 win over Whitehorse United in the third round of the FFA Cup.
The Reds piled on four goals in the first 35 minutes at Grange Reserve on Saturday to leave the visitors from two leagues below them gasping for breath.
Reds coach Shaun Barbara certainly appreciated having a four-goal cushion at the break.
“From there it was all about consolidating and making sure we don’t concede any silly goals,” he said.
Hoppers Crossing’s game was built around pressure, with the Reds’ tight checking defence allowing United no breathing room.
In the front half, the Reds applied a different sort of pressure, producing an attacking style that gave the United defenders no time to think.
“I said to the boys, ‘We’ve got to pressure them with the ball’,” Barbara said. “That resulted in them making a few errors, which we capitalised on.”
Hoppers Crossing opened the scoring six minutes in through lethal finisher Liam McDermott. McDermott has two goals in two games and poses a threat each time he pulls on a Reds shirt.
The Reds doubled their lead through defender Dane Garbett.
While Garbett and fellow defender Fab Albuquerque were praised for their toughness at the back, it was Garbett’s goal that got Barbara out of his seat.
“He got himself high up the pitch and scored a ripping goal,” Barbara said.
Taira Matsumoto made it 3-0 to Hoppers Crossing in the 32nd minute before Alister Smart put in a fourth just three minutes later.
While Hoppers Crossing can be pleased with the all-round performance, it needs to be put into perspective.
The Reds were facing a side from state league 4 and there is still more layers of Barbara’s game plan to hone.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to go,” Barbara said.
Hoppers Crossing will host Dandenong City in the fourth round of the FFA Cup.
Meanwhile, Werribee City went down 2-1 to Eastern Lions in the NPL2 West.
The Bees will be looking forward to a change of scenery with a road trip to Ballarat City coming up in the FFA Cup.