By Lance Jenkinson
Hoppers Crossing’s insurance policy came through in Saturday’s season opening 3-0 win over Hume United in Football Victoria state league 2 at Grange Reserve.
After taking a one-goal lead, the Reds were being put under the pump by the Hume players, who made a number of dangerous ventures into the box.
Standing in the way of Hume at the back of the net was Reds goalkeeper Kieron Sharratt.
Reds coach Shaun Barbara said the stopper kept them in the game.
“They had a couple of key chances to bring it back and potentially take the lead, but he was instrumental in keeping us in pole position,” Barbara said.
“That probably broke their spirits – when he pulled off a couple of nice saves.
“For them it was almost like, what else can they do?”
It was an important win for Hoppers Crossing.
Demoted from state league 1 last season, the Reds wanted to make their mark on a new league from the get-go.
There was also a bit of payback on the cards after the Reds went down to Hume United in the FFA Cup recently.
While disappointed not to see his team’s cup run continue, Barbara’s priority was round one.
He’d kept a few cards close to his chest.
“We kept a couple of aces up our sleeve in the cup game,” Barbara said.
“We didn’t show our full hand, but we also had a couple of guys that weren’t ready to be playing a full game through various things, whether it be illness or injury.
“We want to win every game possible and that’s our mentality and what we strive to do.
“Absolutely it was disappointing to lose the cup game and it left a little bit of a bitter taste in our mouths.
“But we knew on any given day we can beat anybody.”
Familiar names Jason Hayne and Steven Smart got on the scoresheet for Hoppers Crossing on Saturday, while new recruit Levis Dusenge scored on debut. Dusenge impressed in the friendly matches and carried over his form in a substitute appearance.
“He’s a great young kid and he’s been a lively addition to the team,” Barbara said.
“It was good to see him on debut come on and put one away.”
Martin Strasser, roaming on the front line, and captain Brian Chesson, the commander at the back, were also influential for the Reds.
Hoppers Crossing will take to the road to play Moreland United at Moomba Park Reserve this Saturday with confidence stemming from the first-up win.
Though Barbara admits there is still plenty for the Reds to work on.
“To score three goals and keep a clean sheet is good,” he said.
“There’s still a lot of things to work on and we won’t be complacent.”
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