By Lance Jenkinson
Hoppers Crossing piled on goal after goal in a second-half avalanche to embarrass Altona East Phoenix 10-1 in Football Victoria men’s state league 2 north-west at Grange Reserve on Saturday.
The top-of-the-ladder Reds turned it on with seven goals after half-time to pick up a valuable three points and boost their goal difference to a league-best +24.
Reds coach Shaun Barbara said it was important for his side to keep the foot on the pedal for the full 90 minutes.
“You have to be humble in situations like this,” he said. “They were certainly a depleted squad compared to what they have been in previous weeks and in the first game we played against them.
“Like I said to the boys after the game, at the end of the day we have to focus on ourselves and goal difference is going to be really important.
“The boys stuck to their guns, were disciplined and found openings and space … executed in the right areas.”
Barbara had no inkling of the Hoppers Crossing goal feast coming.
In fact, he saw Altona East as a danger side, having lost to it back in round six.
“They beat us in the first game, so we had no intention of taking them lightly at all,” Barbara said. “It was a banana skin we slipped on in the first round.”
Barbara had previously coached a team that scored seven goals in a game – but never 10.
“It was a little bit shocking and rewarding all at the same time,” he said. “It’s something you never expect.”
Prolific striker Jason Hayne led the way in the scoring department for Hoppers Crossing with a hat-trick. Defender Dane Garbett scored a double, with Barbara joking that he took his goals “like a genuine striker”.
The other goalscorers were Junya Takabatake, Shuhei Hasegawa, Goran Jozeljic, Matthew Scott and Liam McDermott.
The Reds will need to re-focus for a first-versus-second showdown with Corio on Saturday at Hume Reserve.
“Corio are a good side – they’ve got some good players and play some good football,” Barbara said. “I think, without being disrespectful to anyone else, they’re the kind of games you look forward to.”
Meanwhile, Point Cook picked up its first win in men’s state league 3 since June 29 by upsetting Fawkner 3-2 at Saltwater Reserve.
Lachlan Smith scored a double for the Jets, while Kyle Caruana added the other.
Truganina Hornets had a 1-1 draw with North Melbourne Athletic in men’s state league 4.
West Point took the challenge up to men’s state league 5 leaders Keilor Wolves before going down 2-1.
In a women’s state league 4 derby, Point Cook was victorious 4-0 over West Point at Saltwater Reserve.
Chaziel Day, Cheyanne Delgado, Melissa Naumovska and Kristina Pellegrino found the back of the net for the Jets, who move up to second on the ladder.