South Cardiff head coach Greg Asquith has described being knocked out of the FFA Cup by South Springvale on penalties as “heart-breaking”.
The Northern NSW side travelled to Victoria for the game on Tuesday night and took the lead twice before the home side equalised.
With the scores locked at 2-2 in extra-time the Gunners succumbed in the penalty shootout.
Despite the loss Asquith described the whole FFA Cup experience as phenomenal and is targeting a return to the competition next year.
“The players had the opportunity to be treated like professional footballers,” Asquith told FourFourTwo.
“Playing in front of a crowd like that was also very different. They created a fantastic atmosphere, which made the occasion so much more special. It was something I am sure they will never forget.”
South Cardiff striker Lee Ashton opened the scoring early, the first in FFA Cup history, before South Springvale’s Alex Florea hit back with a header.
Gunner Mitchell Wallace then put the visitors back in front, before Soitiros Dimitrakopoulos evened it up on 89 minutes and then keeper Rani Dowisha was the penalty hero.
“I thought we had control of a large portion of the match and played some good football in patches, particularly in the opening 20 minutes,” Asquith said.
“We created some good chances throughout the game but were unable to take advantage. Credit must go to South Springvale, though, who were good value on the night.”
Only a week before South Cardiff had lost the State Cup final to fellow Newcastle club Broadmeadow Magic, also on penalties.
“It's a cruel way to lose but someone has to lose and unfortunately it was us,” Asquith said.
“(But) our players were a credit to not only our club but our community as well. They have shown what can be achieved with hard work. (The team) deserved the opportunity to showcase their skills on a national level.”
Asquith said the challenge now was to refocus for the rest of the season.
“We are still a realistic chance of making the semi-finals so hopefully the experience of playing pressure football gets us to where we need to be,” he added.
“I think the FFA cup has given Australian football the spark it needed. Our club will certainly be looking to doing what we can to make it again next year and hopefully progress further.”comments