Sunshine George Cross has suffered a gut-wrenching penalty shoot-out loss to powerhouse Avondale in the FFA Cup fourth round.
Georgies coach Tony Ciantar could not have been any prouder of his team’s performance at Chaplin Reserve on Saturday.
His side took the NPL’s top dogs Avondale – a side 17 places above his in NPL rankings – the distance.
For 120 minutes, the teams could not be separated, and while the best chance fell to Avondale, the Georgies had a number of opportunities they failed to convert.
Without a goal scored in regulation time or the extra 30 minutes, it came down to the lottery of a shoot-out.
The Georgies went down 4-3 after penalty misses to Souheil Azagane and Daniel Younan.
“The boys played brilliantly throughout the 120 minutes,” Ciantar said. “To take them the distance was a super special performance.
“It’s like I said to them before they went up for the penalties, ‘You score it, good, you miss it, keep your head up’.
“We’re proud that we got to this point. It all came down to luck at the end of the day.”
Having been eliminated from the FFA Cup, Sunshine’s attention will return to the National Premier League west competition.
The Georgies are among the early pacesetters, sitting in third place with 11 points.
They are one of the top teams defensively and continue to take up the challenge to opposition defences in attack.
Their all-round game was on display against Avondale.
“We’re solid at the back, but we play good football, too, once we have possession,” Ciantar said.
“We don’t give it away too easy and we take it up to sides.
“Avondale came here today and expected us to park the bus, but my boys are that confident, and I’m that confident in them, that there was no way we were just going to sit back.
“I didn’t care who the opposition was today – it could’ve been one of the A-League outfits and we still would’ve played our game.”
Sunshine will face Melbourne Victory at Epping Stadium on Saturday.
Elsewhere in the FFA Cup, Cairnlea sunk to a 3-1 loss to Essendon United at Campbell Reserve on Saturday.
Green Gully left it late to secure a 2-1 win over Springvale White Eagles on the road at White Eagles Stadium after goals to Alex Caniglia and Aleks Taleski.
Melbourne Knights claimed a comfortable 3-1 win over Geelong on the back of a double from Kym Harris and a goal to Danny Dixon.
North Sunshine crushed Boroondara-Carey 5-1 in the battle of the Eagles with Diellon Memishi scoring a hat-trick.