HANWOOD Football Club outwitted and outplayed a desperate Shepparton South side to claim a heart-stopping 3-2 win in the Regional Premier League at Hanwood Oval yesterday.
The tone for the even contest was set in the opening 10 minutes as the large crowd was left bewildered as four goals were scored, with some speculating the final tally could hit double figures.
While some sense of normalcy did return to the game, Hanwood’s defence formed a solid combination at the back as they repealed several threatening attacking raids by the visitors.
“That’s what this comp is all about, that’s the nature of the competition today was the kind of game we really need to enjoy because they made us work really hard for it,” Hanwood coach Anthony Agresta said.
The blue and whites spectacularly got on the board inside the first minute when Andrew Quarisa hit a clever shot off the outside of his foot to beat the Shepparton goalkeeper.
The early strike set up Quarisa for a magic game, with several attacking runs down the right wing meaning he was the focal point of Hanwood’s attack for most of the match.
“That was I think his best game for the season, he was fantastic,” Agresta said of Quarisa’s performance.
“His form has been coming for a while, but it’s hard with the injuries he’s had and we have had as a club, we haven’t really had the same side for two weeks in a row.
“But Andrew was great today and maybe with Jason (Bertacco) out everybody else has to step up and take a bigger role in the side.”
Shepparton South, spurred on by their early deficit scored less than two minutes later through Brendan Barton, who beat Grant Cropper with a low shot into the left-hand corner.
Hanwood grabbed the lead again off a bizarre corner from Joey Schirripa, which struck the underside of the crossbar before just crossing the line before being scrambled out of the goal mouth.
After a short delay, the officials agreed it was a goal and Hanwood had the lead for the second time.
But the see-saw continued to work overtime with Andrew Nielson cleaning up a rebound for 2-2, as the visitors began to get frustrated with the lack of calls their way by the officials.
“I knew they were going to come here and try and get a few on us early, they were coming here after two losses so we knew they were desperate,” Agresta said.
“But as I’ve said before, these small lapses in concentration, in this competition the sides will make you pay.
“Defensively I think apart from those couple of mistakes early I though we were pretty good for most of the game, but you’ve got to be on your game for 90 minutes.”
With the sides unable to be split at the break, Shepparton began with much more energy in the second half as they looked to grab the lead for the first time in the match.
The skilful Shepparton outfit began to string phases of play together, but two errors at the back by Greg Nash very nearly gave Hanwood the chance to counter and score.
Shepparton’s chances were further hurt when Ramazan Savran hobbled off with a left-leg injury with time beginning to run out.
But Kyle Greaves became the late-game hero for Hanwood FC as he caught Shepparton on the counter-attack and expertly slotted home the one-on-one chance with the ’keeper.
Anthony Agresta failed to take the field in the second half due to a groin strain, and said he will asses its severity before making a decision on his place in the side to play Tatura SC next round.