Picture this, a cold wet miserable Wednesday in Melbourne and I was bouncing around like the Duracell Bunny telling anyone who would listen to me that “football is back!!!”
Melbourne Victory (FINALLY!) had a home FFA Cup Rd of 32 fixture and in an offseason that seemed to last forever I was nervously excited heading into AAMI Park. New coach, new signings, a few noticeable departures (no I do not want to talk about a certain number 9 right now, I am still traumatised) for my boys in navy blue and it was bound to be an interesting night.
To throw a little spice in the mix amongst Victory’s signings was Jets’ favourite Andrew Nabbout rocking Victory’s number 9 in the starting XI.
Could Marco hit the ground running in Melbourne or will Ernie and his Jets ruin all the fun?
The first few minutes saw both sides battling for possession and it was the visitors with the first half-chance in the 7th minute off a Sheppard flick but the Victory defence was focused and cleared it quickly.
It took 11 minutes for Nabbout to show that he will once again, be a player to watch following a solid run down the right. Sending in a cross that came oh so close to finding the back of the net.
But it was Victory’s Lawrence Thomas who was forced to make the first save of night in the 16th, denying Kaine Sheppard.
It was the visitors again who seemed to be putting pressure on the Victory with Ugarkovic whipping in a decent ball forcing Thomas to scramble in the 26th.
The rest of the first half was an entertaining wrestle between both sides particularly in the midfield, who would find the back of the net first?
We soon found out…
WHO ELSE BUT THE RETURNING ANDREW NABBOUT IN THE FIRST MINUTE OF ADDED TIME?!
Pouncing on a beautiful threw ball, he only needed a slight dribble and bang!
Queue the Victory chanting
“Nabbout is on fire!”
I have to give credit to Andrew who didn’t celebrate against his former side, even if part of me would’ve loved to have seen him lose it for the pure banter. But anyway, maybe once the season starts.
The second half saw Dimi Petratos find Kaine Sheppard in the 51st minute but his shot was off target and a few minutes later it was Dimi having a shot on goal but Thomas was ready for it.
I was getting anxious now, players of Dimi’s calibre do not need too many shots on goal before they find the net and I was praying to every football god that our defence was up to the challenge.
I thought I had nothing to worry about when Nabbout again found the back of the net in the 61st.
“Nabbout really is on bloody fire!”
Again no celebration, (ok buddy, you’re in Victory colours again so you can start celebrating) but my brain already was working out the goal scoring potential for the season ahead with the danger in Nabbout, Ola Toivonen and Elvis Kamsoba linking up.
Then it hit me, we should have a fit Robbie Kruse soon too and suddenly losing Antonis, Troisi and Barbarouses might not be too bad after all.
(Watch this space)
If football has taught me anything though, it is to NOT under any circumstances celebrate too early…….
The Jets got one back in the 74th via Johnny Koutroumbis
Kurz subbed off Nabbout in the 77th for Ola Toivonen and then throw in an injury to Lawrence Thomas who was subbed off in the 80th and I was starting to panic!
Bless my little brother who was trying to keep me calm but as the skies really started to open up so did Victory’s defence and who else but Dimi Petratos to level 2-2 in the 81st minute.
Before I knew it the fourth official was signalling 6 minutes of stoppage time.
SIX?! Where did they pull that number from?!
It seemed to be the quickest six minutes of my life with scores still level this was heading into extra time.
Ahhh bless the Magic of the Cup, I might just need an ambulance before this match was over.
The first half of extra time saw a tousle between both sides and it was Elvis Kamsoba with the notable chance, volleying the ball wide after a great ball from Toivonen in the 97th.
The Jets were up for a fight in the second portion of extra time, part of me just wanted somebody to score because my emotions were through the roof and there was no way I could handle a penalty shootout. Maybe the footballing gods took mercy on me or they thought it would be hilarious but Langlois decided it was party time and found the back of the net in the 113th minute.
WHAT A BLOODY TIME TO SCORE YOUR FIRST GOAL.
*insert a bunch of curse words here* and safe to say I didn’t like football very much at that point in time.
3-2 to the Jets and they were off to the Round of 16.
What a fight from Newcastle, it was fairly entertaining for the neutrals I’m sure. As for myself who bleeds Victory Navy Blue, I was disappointed (even a little angry) that we blew a 2-0 lead at home but if you look at the bigger picture:
Nabbout bagged a brace and Kruse has not played yet following an injury during training. Once they link up with the pace of Kamsoba and Toivonen’s potency it should be an exciting season ahead.
Good luck to the Jets in their next FFA Cup match, deserved winners on this occasion.
By Jakline Manevski
Featured Image from FTBL.com.au