By Lance Jenkinson
Hoppers Crossing held its nerve from the penalty spot to record a memorable 2-1 road win over Western Suburbs in Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 2 at Ralph Reserve on Saturday.
In a game that featured four penalties, two for each side, plus one re-take, the Reds had to be perfect from the spot to come away with all three points.
The stars for the Reds were striker Jason Hayne, who scored both of their penalties, and goalkeeper Washington Bgoni, who crucially saved a penalty.
Reds’ coach Shaun Barbara said it was strange to have so many penalties, but neither side was disadvantaged by it.
“Washington saved the first penalty, which kept it at 0-0,” Barbara said.
“The second half we scored two penalties to go 2-0 up and then they scored a penalty with about 10 minutes to go. That got their tails up a little bit, but we were able to deal with what they threw at us.
It was a much-needed win for Hoppers Crossing.
The Reds had picked up just a point from their previous two games, despite producing some quality play.
“We were unlucky not to get anything out of the Fitzroy City game last week,” Barbara said.
“We probably deserved to win if I’m being honest and I don’t think too many people would disagree.
“We’ve still got things to work on, but to be not playing badly and picking up some points away from home was definitely a good result.”
The Reds were made to fight all the way to secure all three points against a Western Suburbs side without a point in four matches.
“It was actually a pretty tight game,” Barbara said. “You’ve got to give credit where it’s due – although they haven’t picked up a point yet from four games, they’re not a bad side.
“We were certainly good in the first half, a little bit patchy in the second half … we expected them to come at us a little bit more.
“We just stuck to our own game plan … we were able to do that and forced two penalties.”
Brian Chesson and Dane Garbett were nigh on impenetrable in the Hoppers Crossing defence.
With Ryan Murray playing his first game in two months in defensive midfield after injury, the Reds had real steel to their back half.
Murray played a crucial role both ways in a midfield partnership with Scott Robson.
Hoppers Crossing has moved up to fifth on the ladder with seven points from four games.
With Easter weekend designated for FFA Cup action, the Reds will have the weekend off and begin preparation for their round-five encounter with Mill Park on April 27.
“We’ve had a long pre-season and a lot of guys have dedicated a lot of time away from their families,” Barbara said. “So they can have a weekend where they give a bit back and spend a bit of time with their families.”
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