Box Hill United’s senior men lost only their second league match in five outings, following the 1-0 heartbreak at Wembley Park against Goulburn Valley Suns on Saturday.
A first-half strike by the Suns’ skipper Jamie England was enough to seal full points for the visitors, who managed to survive a second-half onslaught from Box Hill.
It was Goulburn making the early inroads towards the hosts’ penalty area, earning two corners within the first three minutes of the game, which Box Hill successfully cleared.
United reclaimed their rhythm soon after, looking to play from the back in a composed fashion.
But on 16 minutes, Goulburn sprung a counter-attack, which resulted in Box Hill gloveman Christian Pavlidis making a strong intervention against Craig Carley’s attempt but conceding a corner. England was the quickest to react after the flag-kick, and scored from the goal-mouth melee inside the box.
The Suns’ captain was at it once more on 25 minutes, as he struck the near post with a thunderous volley following another counter strike from the visitors.
But Box Hill regrouped and carved no less than four chances before going into the sheds.
While Nino Lacagnina fed Isaiah Joseph from the left, with the latter finding Rowan McNamee, who fluffed his lines trying to get his body shape right, only for the Suns’ goalkeeper Muntadhar Al Gazaly to gather the attempt.
Soon after, Theodore Aresti launched a perfect long ball behind the opposition backline, which Jacob Byrns latched on to but could not guide the ball home past an onrushing Al Gazaly on 30 minutes, who also pawed Byrns’ well-connected header close to the break.
The 19-year-old Byrns then whipped in a left-footed cross from the edge of the penalty area, but neither McNamee nor Joseph could nod it in despite evading the opponent’s rearguard.
With the change of ends, Box Hill threw down the gauntlet in search of goals. United continued to turn the screw, earning a raft of corners thanks to their enterprising wing-play. But Javier Marangos, McNamee and Lacagnina all saw their efforts from the corner arc cleared desperately by Goulburn.
On 58 minutes, Box Hill were awarded a free-kick from 30 yards following a foul on Andreas Miltiadou, which the left-footed Joseph took but was thwarted by Al Gazaly.
Box Hill set up camp in the opposition’s half as the clock ticked down, but the lively Byrns found his attempt kept at bay, while Lacagnina tried to find the top bin from distance but saw his devilish curler sail inches wide of the mark.
Similarly, captain Javier Marangos burst forward down the right of the penalty area to have a shy on goal, only for his dangerous-looking shot to drift over the crossbar.
Box Hill had to be alert though, at the other end, as Pavlidis was forced to a late save by Zachary Hutchinson off a counter-surge, which did little to alter the final scoreline for Box Hill.
Box Hill United starting XI: T Aresti, J Byrns, I Joseph (S Azagane, 64’), N Lacagnina, J Marangos ©, R McNamee, A Miltiadou, D Nielsen, C Pavlidis (GK), G Voliotis, J Vun (B Skliros, 80’)
Unused substitutes: B Caballero (GK), A Mohd. Sarip, N Kokolakis