It was a nightmare on Somers Street for Sunshine George Cross.
Playing in their first home game at Knights Stadium while their future home ground is being constructed at Taylors Hill, the Georgies were trounced 9-2 by the newly promoted Altona Magic on a horror day on Saturday.
Georgies coach Tony Ciantar was seething after the game, partly because of his team’s leaky defence, but mainly at the match officials.
“Poor refereeing just destroyed a football game and what was going to be an incredible football game,” Ciantar said. “The only way I can describe the match is a circus.
“The referee was the main attraction of the day.”
The first half was going to plan for Sunshine George Cross.
The Georgies twice fought back from deficits to draw level going into first half stoppage time.
Their two goals – courtesy of David Younan in the 34th minute and captain Branden Petrevski in the 42nd minute – were both crackers, but, on the flip side, Ciantar conceded there was some ordinary defending at the back.
The Georgies could have lived with 2-2 at half-time, but it was not to be the case.
“We had them on the back foot a bit,” Ciantar said. “We should’ve scored to make it 3-2, but they went on the counter attack and their guy has hit a ball from way outside the box into the top corner.
“It was an unsavable shot.”
It was in the moments before that goal that had Ciantar riled up and Sunshine lost its discipline at the back. Younan was red carded for what Ciantar described as a “soft” decision for the first yellow card and “even softer” decision for the sending off. “That red card totally shocked us,” Ciantar said.
While the protests came from the Sunshine bench, Altona remained composed to score its third and fourth goals in the stoppage period.
Two more Magic goals came early in the second half before Su-Beom An was red carded and the Georgies were down to nine men.
By this stage, the Magic were exploiting holes in the defence left, right and centre, and scored three more unanswered goals to complete a nine-goal avalanche.
With Younan, An and opening round red card recipient James Kemal out with suspension, Sunshine’s depth will be put to the test when it hosts Moreland Zebras at Knights Stadium on Saturday night.
“We’ve got a very competitive squad and I still like to think we’ve got plenty of depth that I’m super proud of,” Ciantar said.