Box Hill United snatched a morale-boosting 1-1 draw against NPL2 leaders Dandenong City at Wembley Park on Saturday, and head coach Brian Vanega praised his players for ‘not taking the foot off’ towards the season’s end.
After Dandenong scored midway through the second-half, United equalised soon after, and struck the goal-frame in the game’s dying moments.
Vanega was happy with the shift his players put in against the division champions, and said, “Last week, we beat the team (Moreland City) that came second in the league. Today, we took on the team that’s top of the league and going up, and will most likely do very well, because they have a high-quality squad. We’ve taken it to them and almost snuck a win at the end.
“That was our target for the week – not taking the foot off towards the end of the season. We had more clear chances than them. So, a draw is fair but if anyone deserved the win, it’s potentially us.”
Highlighting his players’ mental strength to turn things around after three straight defeats had left them is dire relegation battle, Vanega said, “You can see in the performance that we have learnt from those three defeats, where we were not working as hard as the opposition. We are now matching the opposition, and on some days, we can outwork them.”
With curtains drawn on the current season, the boss is keen to keep the team’s core intact. He reasoned, “If we keep this group of players, it’s a very good foundation to build on and that’s going to be the key. That unity carries on, and they have that spirit and understanding of how to play together.
“They will get a year older with more experience from this year. For some players, these were the first 15-20 games of senior football; so those players will get much better next year. We have a couple of middle-aged players and next year, they’ll start to become real big leaders in the group.”