GV SUNS COME UNDONE
27 Apr 2015: Shepparton News - By Gregor Mactaggart
KALAFATIS LAMENTS MAJOR BREAKDOWN IN SIDE'S STRUCTURE IN LOSS TO DANDENONG CITY
Terrible. That was how Goulburn Valley Suns coach Nick Kalafatis described his side's second-half display in a 4-0 away loss to Dandenong City on Saturday.
The National Premier Leagues Victoria 1 East clash had been resting on a knife edge until the home side produced a stunning burst at the Frank Holohan Soccer Complex.
Four goals in the space of 17 minutes, highlighted by a brace from marksman Ash Cattermole, proved the decisive period of the match and made the long trip home to Shepparton a forgetful one for the Suns.
Kalafatis did not waste words when quizzed about his thoughts on the performance.
''We were lucky it was only 4-0 in the finish,'' Kalafatis said.
''The first half was good, but the second half was terrible.
''We deserved to be up at half-time, Dandenong City did not have a clear chance.
''But some of us didn't want to be there in the second half.
''At this level you cannot afford to switch off for a 10 to 15-minute period like we did."
Kalafatis lamented a major breakdown in his side's structure, especially during the second stanza as City seized control with the absence of midfield general Jamie England a contributing factor.
And the injury list is ever-growing with the dynamic Fahad Alghazaly hurting his hamstring in the defeat, which sees Goulburn Valley drop to fourth place on the NPL1 East ladder with 16 points.
The Suns' next clash is at home against western division high-flyers St Albans at McEwen Reserve on Sunday.
Kick-off is at 5 pm. Melbourne Victory 19, Eastern Lions 19, Kingston City 18,
Dandenong City 12, Richmond 11, Box Hill United 9, Murray United 5, Springvale White Eagles 3, Nunawading City 0.
Dandenong is seven points behind SUNS but it is only side to test top team victory
With seven points from four games, the Goulburn Valley Suns' roadshow has been a success thus far, but 10 from five would be even better.
The Suns face their fifth straight away game today when they take on Dandenong City at Frank Holohan Soccer Complex.
With City languishing midtable, the ladder would suggest the Suns are favourite in this third-versus-sixth clash, but there ismore to this game than meets the eye.
Dandenong is back home for the first time in a month after four straight away games, from which it has taken five points, drawing with Moreland Zebras and Sunshine George Cross as well as beating Springvale White Eagles 3-0.
Of its three home games this season, City has lost one, drawn one and won one with perhaps the most impressive performance coming against Melbourne Victory's National Youth League team in a 1-1 draw — which remains the only two points the tabletopping Victory has dropped this season.
For playing coach Nick Kalafatis, it means the Suns' seven-point buffer over City does not mean today's match will be easy.
''We know they are a strong team and I think the fact they are the only team to not lose against Victory shows that,'' Kalafatis said.
''They have two players in particular in midfield and a striker who I think are two of the best in the league.''
Midfielder Sean Seavill — who has four goals in seven games— is seen as a particular threat and will have to be contained by the combative Jamie England, who has not lost too many midfield duels to date.
The Suns have plenty of firepower themselves with last week's hat-trick hero Sean Ellis, striker Craig Carley and Samoan under-17 captain Frank Mariner, fresh off scoring the winner in a 4-3 thriller in Bendigo last week.
Kalafatis will be without Cody Sellwood, who is suffering with a recurring hamstring injury, while Shaun Kane remains out with a fractured cheekbone.
Regardless, Kalafatis is hungry for the three points he believes would set up the season nicely.
''If we can get this result with two homes games in a row to come, I think we can really put a big streak of wins together,'' Kalafatis said.
''At the moment, it looks like the West (division) is strong, but when we cross over to play them, the Eastern teams are beating the West teams, so we need to keep winning to keep up.''
The Suns sit in third in NPLV1 East, two points behind Kingston City, which has played a game more, and three points behind Melbourne Victory.The top two clubs face off today, meaning one — or potentially both — will drop points.
Do you recognise this face? You should. Harry Kewell is the face of Australian soccer. The former Leeds United, Liverpool, Galatasaray, Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Heart and— of course— Socceroos superstar was the spearhead of an Australian golden generation of soccer talent which made a massive mark on the European continent and represented Australia in two FIFA World Cups. At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he famously scored the goal that helped the Socceroos progress to the knockout stages at the expense of Croatia. For the past two days he was in Shepparton delivering two Harry Kewell Academy clinics to the next generation of Goulburn Valley stars at McEwen Reserve. Kewell has a lot to teach, too, after an incredible professional career that spanned 18 years and procured FA Youth Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Turkish Super Cup medals.
The trip from Plenty Valley to Shepparton is worthwhile for 21⁄ hours in the company of the man voted Australia's greatest ever soccer player.
Just ask young Jack Armarego and his uncle Craig Horne.
Horne drove Jack, 13, to Shepparton yesterday to train with Harry Kewell at the superstar's Harry Kewell Academy clinic in Shepparton, and he was positively buzzing as he waited for training to start.
''I'm a bit nervous to see the great man standing over there,'' Jack said.
''It should be great to play alongside him and hear what he has to say.''
Jack is a keen striker with an eye for goal and was recently appointed captain of his local club's under-13 team, starting the new season with a beautiful goal, but even he stood to learn plenty from the Socceroos legend.
''My uncle Craig heard about it and asked if I wanted to come along and obviously I loved the idea,'' Armarego said.
''I watched him play for (Melbourne) Victory and I have seen videos of him playing for Liverpool.''
Horne — every bit as excited as his nephew — said it was a great opportunity to watch such a legend of Australian sport up close.
''I must admit I watched every single match of the World Cup and anything I can do to help Jack get some tips from such a player, I'm happy to do,'' Horne said.
''It's great to see him giving back to the community and the kids.''
No-one could accuse the Goulburn Valley Suns of boring crowds in the National Premier Leagues Victoria 1 competition.
Last week, the Suns were 3-1 up in Ballarat only to draw 3-3 with the Ballarat Red Devils.
On Saturday, the Suns were 3-1 down at half-time in Bendigo but managed to defeat Bendigo City 4-3.
A Sean Ellis hat-trick inspired the Suns to victory, with the winner coming from the most unlikely of sources in young debutant Frank Mariner.
Mariner — a Samoan under-17 international and captain — reacted quickest after 69 minutes to pounce on a fumble from City keeper Gianmarco D'Oria to slam home the winner from close range.
His performance was a testament to his undoubted quality and character which matched that of the team as a whole.
''He played as an attacking midfielder and I thought he was one of the most positive things from the day,'' coach Nick Kalafatis said.
''He's really strong and creative with the ball at his feet and for the 85 minutes he was on, he gave us absolutely everything he had.''
The day got off to a terrible start for the Suns.
Riley Dillon put Bendigo 1-0 up after seven minutes, before Ellis levelled the scores in the 25th minute after he got on the end of a beautiful Vani Shamoon cross.
However, parity was short-lived as Jason Shade put Bendigo 2-1 up, before an unfortunate own-goal from Naum Sekulovski increased the deficit to 3-1 at half-time, despite a strong finish to the half in which Ellis skied a Craig Carley-earned penalty over the crossbar.
''I just told the boys to not be so direct and switch the play from wing to wing and make them run,'' Kalafatis said.
''I thought if we kept going the way we were, we'd get what we deserved.''
The Suns did just that as Ellis — inspired by his penalty miss — found another gear and tormented the City defence.
He volleyed home another Shamoon cross two minutes after the restart, and he levelled the scores in the 68th minute when a Carley shot bounced down off the crossbar and into Ellis' path.
Mariner scored the winner a minute later much to everyone's delight.
''I was so happy with Sean and the way he played after he missed the penalty — it said a lot about his character,'' Kalafatis said.
''But Frank was fantastic too. We're very happy for him and I think he has a long future in front of him.
''The whole team did well. That's football. Last week we were 3-1 up and drew and this week it was the complete opposite, so I'm very happy with the boys.''