Green Gully has regained some of the spark it lost towards the back end of the last National Premier League season.
Two wins from two starts to begin the new campaign have lifted the dark cloud that hovered over the Cavaliers after last year’s near disaster in the promotion-relegation play-off.
Cavaliers general manager Raymond Mamo said it was important for his club to hit the ground running and that he saw some positive signs in a 4-2 win over Heidelberg United at Green Gully Reserve on Saturday.
He credits the addition of a number of new leaders to the squad for the immediate turnaround.
“Starting on this note is great,” Mamo said. “It’s been quite a long time since we’ve seen that sort of performance from Green Gully.
“There’s some leaders added to the team this year and it’s really important because it’s something that we lacked a bit last year.”
Green Gully’s victory over Heidelberg was a roller coaster ride. In the first half, both sides had patches of domination before settling on two goals apiece at the break.
Green Gully struck first through new recruit Alex Salmon, in the eighth minute, but Heidelberg hit back two minutes later through Sean Ellis.
Heidelberg was gifted the lead through an own goal from Green Gully goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson.
After the initial shock, the Cavaliers’ work rate lifted. They found a deserved equaliser through Matthew Fletcher 11 minutes before the break.
“That second [Heidelberg] goal really put us on the back foot a little bit,” Mamo said.
“Credit to the boys, though – they kept at it and I thought the last 10 minutes of the first half was ours.”
Green Gully came out in the second half with a real vigour.
The Cavaliers also took advantage of an extra player after Heidelberg’s Jack Petrie was red-carded for a behind-the-play incident.
Soon after the visitors went down to 10 men, Fletcher bobbed up for a second goal for Green Gully to give his side a 3-2 lead.
While Heidelberg remained competitive, despite being a man down, Green Gully finally put it to the sword from the penalty spot with a goal through Salmon, his second for the day.
“I feel that we were in control of the game,” Mamo said. “Particularly in the second half – I think we were all over them.”
With a high turnover in the summer, Green Gully was expected to take some time to mesh.
But the first two weeks suggest the pre-season campaign was enough for the players to work each other out.
“The new players have clicked in the team,” Mamo said.
“They had a really hard and tough pre-season and I think that’s helped gel the boys together.
“It’s a credit to [coaches] Stephen Downes, Steve Laurie and also Darren Welch – they’ve done a fabulous job.”
Manny Muscat, in the midfield, was one of the standouts for Green Gully.
Jeremy Walker was energetic at right back, while new captain Nick Kalmar pulled the strings in the midfield.
Green Gully will face Bentleigh Greens in the third round in a mouth-watering clash of two-win sides at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex on Friday night.
Meanwhile, Melbourne Knights have also made a perfect start to the new season.
They celebrated a come-from-behind 4-3 win over newly promoted Altona Magic at Knights Stadium on Friday night.
The Knights’ winner came through a headed goal from substitute AJ Inia deep into second-half stoppage time.
The Micky Colina-coached Knights will hit the road to face Heidelberg United on Saturday night.
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