A double from striker Maxx Green sent Gungahlin United into the Australia Cup Preliminary Round 5 as the Gunners saw off a spirted challenge from O’Connor Knights in an epic cup tie at Gungahlin Enclosed winning 2-1 after extra time.
Green’s winner, a spectacular half-volley after racing onto a clipped through ball from Antoni Timotheou who dictated the midfield alongside Josh Gaspari, was a goal worthy of securing any cup tie, the finish from an acute angle hit with power and accuracy beyond the despairing dive of Knights’ custodian Seb Arranz.
The newcomer, signed from Belconnen United in the off-season, could have scored twice in normal time before he did find the net, hitting the post with a cushioned volley over Arranz and shooting wide when well placed at the top of the penalty area as Gungahlin had the better of the opportunities in the first forty-five minutes.
The first of those chances came after Green himself had snapped the goalpost, running into the net after being inches away from getting on the end of a Jackson Paesler cross-shot. That caused a twelve minute delay as the posts were replaced by the quick-thinking and hard work of the local club volunteers.
Knights were aggrieved that they didn’t head into the changing rooms ahead, full-back James Driscoll appearing to break the offside trap and squaring for Riley Angelosante to tap into the empty net, only for the goal to be chalked off by the tightest of offside flags.
Tom McLachlan was equally disappointed in the second half, his tidy finish from a through ball also disallowed by a narrow offside call, after the Knights had taken the lead with a quite stupendous goal scored by midfielder Regan Walsh.
A Phakedi Manda corner was half cleared, and the return ball fell to Walsh who, with his back to goal, contorted his body and sent a scorpion kick across goal and into the far corner of the net, Gunners ‘keeper Jacob Quinn a mere bystander to a sumptuous finish.
Gungahlin levelled with nineteen minutes to play, Green breaching the Knights defensive line to lob an exquisite finish over Arranz following an inch-perfect delivery from central defender Badreldin Abbas that pierced the O’Connor back-line, a goal which sent the match into extra-time from where Green struck the stunning winner.
Shortly before the defining goal, Knights might have scored twice themselves, Micheal Adams, who overcame an early injury scare, finishing tamely when in front of the net, whilst Manda sent a fizzing volley across goal that caromed off the far post and away to safety. These were opportunities that O’Connor would come to rue as the 2022 semi-finalists exited at the first hurdle.
Friday 17 March
O’Connor Knights 1 (Walsh 53’) Gungahlin United 2 (Green 71’, 93’) – after extra time