Updated: Apr 18
NPL3 side Preston Lions, one of the best-supported clubs in Victoria outside the A-League, were Beauy’s introduction to the 2022 Australia Cup. With over 4000 spectators attending the clash between Preston and Geelong on the previous Saturday, and Preston on a 100% record sitting on top of NPL3 after three games, Beauy coach David Gibson and his team knew to expect a tough game.
The match was moved to Grange Reserve, home of Kingston City in the absence of our new club rooms being available and to accommodate the large crowd expected. Great work by Bruce Maclaren and his support team to provide security/marshalling and box office facilities.
Some 350 spectators drifted into the venue, with significant numbers from Preston expectant of a relatively straightforward win against Beauy as a State League 1 team. However, our team were buoyed by their first points of the season away at Eltham last weekend and were looking for a run into the ‘live TV ‘ rounds of the Cup!
Game opened on a pristine grass surface and both teams traded blows before the Lions took the lead on 14 minutes from a left-wing incursion, beating keeper Jarrod Hill. Right back Liam Gilmore went on to have a stand-out game thwarting multiple attacks by the dangerous Lions forwards. Beauy equalised on 24 minutes via Gideon Sweet who was switching roles with fellow attacker Ryan Brown to disrupt the Preston defence, and was able to get a left-foot shot past the keeper.
Beauy had a good period after the goal, with skipper Jessie Kewley-Graham hitting the bar with a free kick but Preston also came close and the teams went into the break on level terms.
Our team flew out of the gates in the second period with Sweet again the scorer on 46 minutes, but our lead was short lived and Preston were level on 50 minutes.
The game ebbed and flowed, with the higher ranked Lions , making multiple substitutions to look to secure victory in what was clearly a game that they had become concerned was not the easy win they had expected. Beauy continued to defend solidly, but were also very dangerous on the counter and Sweet scored again on 58 minutes and had the Beauy support on their feet on 72 minutes with a firm header to give Beauy a two goal cushion.
Preston piled forward and won a slightly contentious penalty on 82 minutes which was converted to give the crowd an anxious 8 minutes while the teams battled the game out.
7 minutes of added time came from, no one knows where, before the final whistle went and the Beauy team and supporters celebrated .
The Preston support disappeared into the Clayton night conceding , in the main, that Beauy deserved their passage to Round 5.
Next stop South Springvale on Saturday 9 April for 3 x points !!!