05/03/2024

Bentleigh Greens and Avondale advance to the Round of 16. (Image: Australia Cup/Twitter)

The Bentleigh Greens and Avondale FC are through to the next stages of the Australia Cup, securing victories on Thursday night.

In the opening matchday of the Australia Cup’s Round of 32, Victorian NPL outfits Bentleigh Greens and Avondale FC have had enjoyable nights. The duo progress to the next round in their respective fixtures.

While Avondale was able to comfortably get the win during regular time, the Greens progressed through in extra time in what was a thrilling contest.

The Inner Sanctum has the major talking points from both fixtures.

Avondale FC 6-0 Mindil Aces – Liam Boland a difference maker

Having gone without a goal in his past three NPL Victoria fixtures, Liam Boland may have gotten himself back into form, putting in a stellar performance in his side’s cup tie.

Boland finished the game with a hat-trick and proved to be the difference in the Avengers’ 6-0 win over Mindil Aces. Having scored just six goals in 16 NPL fixtures this season, the Avengers will be hoping their striker’s cup form can translate to the NPL competition.

The story heading into the fixture surrounded their opponents, Northern Territory outfit Mindil Aces, playing and hosting their inaugural Australia Cup match. All talk coming out of the game now will be on Boland and his side’s dominant display.

Ahead 2-0 at half time with Scott Hilliar and Boland finding the net before the half hour mark, the Avengers put their foot down in the second half, Boland adding another two to his tally to complete the hat trick.

Starting the game on the bench and subbed on at the start of the second half, Liston Diaz made an impact scoring a brace.

For a club such as the Aces, it was an achievement in itself to make it this far. They’d also make a bit of history as Barney Wood became the youngest player to make an appearance in the cup. The 14-year-old took the field for the final 15 minutes of the game.

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Bentleigh Greens 2-1 Broadmeadow Magic – Greens leave it late

The Bentleigh Greens edged past the Magic to progress to the Round of 16 for the fifth time in a highly entertaining fixture, with a goal deep into the second period of extra time enough to see off their opposition.

Though on the losing end, Magic keeper Zac Bowling’s brilliant night out will be a major talking point coming out of the fixture, with the youngster putting in a memorable performance.

With Broadmeadow’s number one keeper Ben McNamara coming off injured in the 22nd minute, Bowling came on and did his best to keep the Greens at bay. He made an impressive 14 saves and did his best to ensure his side stayed in the match.

Speaking post game, Bowling felt it was a gallant showing from his side, though he wasn’t convinced the Greens winning goal should’ve stood.

“We just got unlucky in the end, I personally thought [the last goal] was offside as everyone [who concedes a goal] does, but it was good the boys put up a fight against a really good club,” he said.

The Greens got off to a bright start scoring the first goal of the game through George Lambadaridis just past the half hour mark before the Magic stunned the home side equalising a minute later through Jacob Dowse.

With neither side able to score a go-ahead goal in regular time, the game then looked destined to go to penalty shootouts. Substitute Ken Krolicki had other ideas, finding the net in the 117th minute having been set up to score an easy tap in.

Speaking after the game, Greens coach Nick Tolios was complimentary of their opponents, saying his side were given a good run for their money.

“They [Broadmeadow] were fantastic, they came in with a game plan, they were unlucky to get their keeper injured but the young boy who came on he was phenomenal,” he said.

“Credit to him, that’s what the cup is about: bringing out heroes in every game, and he stood up. Look it was nerve-wracking, but I thought they were super today. They had a game plan and they almost got us in the end.”

Having been on some deep cup runs before, the Greens will be hopeful 2022 can also be a fruitful campaign.

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