Box Hill United’s senior men suffered a gut-wrenching 5-0 loss against Bulleen Lions in the penultimate game of the 2019 NPL2 season.
Saturday’s Round 27 clash at Wembley Park saw Ben Everson complete a treble for Bulleen, while Daniel Maclennan and John Kuol added two more to wrap up the victory.
A cautious first few exchanges saw both sides looking to establish a grasp over midfield proceedings. However, Box Hill matched their opponents stride for stride, and negated their goal threat by trading shots at the Lions’ den.
Bulleen, featuring several former Box Hill players, saw Peter Sawan aiming to trouble the hosts’ backline on 17 minutes following a corner, but the angle was too tight for him to find the target.
Four minutes later, Bulleen were kept at bay off the goal-line, as Box Hill managed to clear a header on the back of Philip Petreski’s corner. While Maclennan blasted at the side-netting after momentarily catching the home rearline off-guard following a free-kick soon after.
Box Hill, at the other end, saw two flag-kicks cleared to safety which were enforced via deflected crosses from the flanks.
On 33 minutes, Delarno Pharoe collected Nino Lacagnina’s pass, cut in from the left wing, but his effort sailed inches over the crossbar.
A minute from the breather, Pharoe was denied by an onrushing Alexander Pavlidis in the Bulleen goal, who then flew out to punch a dangerous cross away from Jamie Mammino’s reach inside the six-yard box.
With the score tied at 0-0 and the match on an even-keel, Box Hill continued to be patient on the ball after emerging from the traps.
But a spell of 12 second-half minutes turned the tide completely in the Lions’ favour, who scored thrice, and Box Hill were forced into a goalkeeping substitution after Christian Pavlidis jarred his right knee.
Kuol opened Bulleen’s account on 48 minutes, flicking home from point-blank range after Box Hill had failed to clear a cross from the right. Two minutes after, Everson weaved his way into the penalty box to draw a save from C. Pavlidis, but his rebound effort trickled into the net.
On 55 minutes, Everson doubled his tally by rounding off the Box Hill custodian on his own, after the hosts’ backline had stopped on their tracks – looking for an offside flag that never arrived. Soon after, C. Pavlidis was replaced by Yiannia Skliros following the unfortunate knee injury.
Bulleen continued to pile the pressure, with Skliros called into action twice to stop Maclennan’s goal-bound efforts from a free-kick and a close-range shot, and another left-footer from Everson.
But Maclennan trebled the visitors’ advantage on 65 minutes, sneaking down the right to rifle it home. And on 77 minutes, Everson completed his hat-trick after finding the back of the net through a sea of legs from edge of the penalty box.
On their part, Box Hill staged an effort to salvage some pride from the game with right-back George Voliotis at the heart of it, but were left empty-handed.
Voliotis’ right-flank daisycutter was skied by Isaiah Joseph from inside the goal-mouth area, while substitute frontman Jacob Byrns saw his powerful left-footer from Voliotis’ feed blocked in numbers by the Bulleen defence in the game’s late stages.
Box Hill United starting-XI: I Joseph (G Siamoa, 74’), N Lacagnina, J Mammino, R McNamee, A Miltiadou, D Nielsen ©, C Pavlidis (GK) (Y Skliros, 59’), D Pharoe, T Podaridis, G Voliotis, J Vun (J Byrns, 62’)
Unused substitutes: A Mohd. Sarip, B Skliros