METROSTARS’ fairytale unbeaten run on soccer’s national stage is over after the SA club crashed out of the FFA Cup.
IT WAS the SA soccer fairytale without a happy ending.
MetroStars’ year-long unbeaten run against interstate opposition ground to a halt last night as they crashed out of the FFA Cup.
The Klemzig club went down 1-0 to Oakleigh Cannons in a tight round of 16 clash at the Parks.
Former Wellington Phoenix forward Mirjan Pavlovic’s second half strike was enough for the Victorians to advance to the last eight.
But the National Premier Leagues champion, which had won four straight matches on the national stage stretching back to September last year, dominated early proceedings.
MetroStars ground out a 2-1 win away to Blacktown City in the round of 32 thanks largely to a patient game plan and swift counter attacks.
But Michael Pirone’s men opened with a high tempo against a Cannons side packed with A-League experience, troubling the visitors with early balls forward and a series of dangerous set pieces.
The hosts had the first chance in the 11th minute.
Anthony Solagna of MetroStars gets away with the ball during last night’s FFA Cup round of 16 match. Picture: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images
Steven Grelli’s free kick from the right caused panic in the Oakleigh box as keeper Lajos Hun allowed the cross to slip through his hands, but the ball was scrambled clear.
Anthony Solagna got on the end of Grelli’s corner six minutes later but his powerful header flashed just over.
The home side then had a penalty appeal turned down when Aron Wilford challenged Liam Wooding in the box but referee Rick Schneider waved play on.
MetroStars went closest to opening the scoring 15 minutes before the break.
Adam van Dommele hung up a high cross from the left which again Hun failed to collect.
Rocky Callisto stooped to head home the loose ball but his close range effort was desperately clawed away by the relieved keeper as the first half ended goalless.
Oakleigh bolted out of the blocks after the interval with the breeze at its back.
Dean Piemonte was unlucky not to score as his superb free kick from 30m clipped the top of the crossbar.
Pavlovic was next to threaten when he pounced on a poor clearance by the home side and rounded keeper Dan Godley but shot into side netting.
Piemonte, who converted a delightful free kick against Far North Queensland in the previous round, again went within inches of the opener from another set piece in the 50th minute.
MetroStars’ Rocky Callisto controls the ball against Oakleigh Cannon. Picture: Roger WymanSource:News Corp Australia
The playmaker’s left foot strike had plenty of whip but Godley did well to push the ball on to the bar and away to safety.
Jonathan Negus should have done better when he got on the end of Wooding’s cross just after the hour, but he scooped his half volley over the bar when well placed.
Oakleigh took the lead in the 66th minute thanks to a slice of luck.
A long clearance out of defence by ex-Newcastle Jets man Sean Rooney was misjudged by Godley as he attempted to head the bouncing ball clear outside the box.
Pavlovic nipped in behind the veteran keeper, who was playing his last match before retirement, to slot home.
Pirone brought on winger Perry Mitris in the 69th minute as MetroStars searched for an equaliser.
But the Cannons’ defence, expertly screened by former Melbourne Victory enforcer Steve Pantelidis, held firm.
Tensions flared after the final whistle as Wooding was red carded for remonstrating with the officials.