A goal midway through the second half was enough for Oakleigh Cannons to knock MetroStars out of the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 16 at Elite Systems Football Centre on Tuesday, as it ended 1-0.
Mirjan Pavlovic pounced on an error from goalkeeper Daniel Godley – playing in what would prove to be his final match before retirement – in the 66th minute to see the Victorian club advance to the final eight over the 2014 PlayStation 4 National Premier League Finals victors.
Oakleigh coach Arthur Papas said a change in mentality after half time was pivotal.
“It was a high intensity, typical cup game. From the first minute MetroStars came out of the blocks and put us under a lot of pressure. We were struggling to have any control of the game with the ball,” he said.
“We spoke at half time about why we need to take a bit more initiative with the ball and be more forward thinking. We saw it straight away in the second half and in the end I think it was a fair result based on genuine chances.
“Credit to MetroStars, they were up for it from the start. They are good on the ball and we knew it would be the case. At half time we said there was nothing to lose, that we were playing with fear rather than going to win the game.
“Being able to take more control in the second half was the difference.”
MetroStars boss Michael Pirone thought his side was unlucky to bow out.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the guys in terms of executing the game plan. It was done to a tee for 80 of the 90 minutes and we deserved a lot more out of the game. It was unfortunate that an error can decide it, but those are the margins,” he said.
“That incident was the only difference between the sides. We dominated most of the game. It was 10 minutes after half time that they pressed us.
“We were as good as we’ve been all year in the first 45 minutes, without reward. A bit more quality was needed in the final third and it just didn’t fall for us.
“It was unfortunate for Dan. Any error a goalkeeper makes is going to be magnified. He’s been a terrific club man and it has been a pleasure to have been able to coach Daniel.”
MetroStars was dominant in the first half and dangerous from set pieces, with Steven Grelli’s corner just headed over by captain Adam Van Dommele.
The home side’s best opportunity arrived just shy of the half hour mark when Rocky Callisto saw his header clawed away at the back post by Lajos Hun, after the Cannons custodian spilled a routine cross.
Dean Piemonte signalled the Victorians attacking intent almost immediately after the interval with a free kick that struck the top of the cross bar.
Oakleigh pressure forced a defensive error from the resulting goal kick, but after going around Godley, Pavlovic was only able to strike the side netting.
It was sustained pressure from the visitors at the start of the second half as Godley palmed another Piemonte free kick from a dangerous position on to the woodwork
Jonathan Negus scored in MetroStars Round of 32 win over Blacktown City, but stretching at the back post on the hour mark to reach a cross he could only balloon the ball over the top.
Godley rushed out to clear a long ball only to horribly misjudge the flight, allowing Pavlovic to finish into an empty net.
MetroStars peppered the Oakleigh defence without putting Hun under too much pressure in the final stages. Scott Tunbridge and substitute Perry Mitris both headed high of the target inside the final 10 minutes.