This post is late, because I simply could not muster the courage to face the defeat so soon after it occurred. Perhaps in an act of unintentional prescience, I didn't even provide a preview of the game. I had intended to go watch the Pascoe Vale vs Hume City game as well, sensing that an upset was on the cards, but decided to give that a miss as well.
On Friday night, I stood in the rain, as a combination of ground marshal and oversized, uncoordinated ballboy, for 90 minutes. In some respects, I had a great view - in perfect position to witness our second half missed opportunities, the balls blasted over from six yards out. And in other respects, I had a shocking view, standing behind the net at one end, unable to view the game from a suitable elevation to see where we were going wrong.
We have lost four home games in a row. Once upon a time - admittedly, these days, a very long time ago - losing any game at home was a travesty. It's a good thing I'm not on top of the stats, as that would just make me more depressed. I reckon it might be fair to say that this could be a record, if only for the fact that it would have been just about inconceivable for us to have ever lost even three home games in succession.
Once again, Peter Tsolakis left his substitutions late. This time, so late, they were made with about four minutes to go. What the thinking was behind that, I do not know. Why start Gianni De Nittis, ahead of Dimi Hatzimouratis, I do not know. What we do know is that Trent Rixon did not start - whether that was because on injury or as a precaution we're not sure.
To be fair, when you find yourself in a rut like this, luck also goes against you. How often will Fernando hit the crossbar from six yards out, facing a more or less open net? When is the next time will we see such a dreadful call as the penalty awarded against Peter Gavalas, who seemed to have clearly and cleanly taken the ball away with a sliding attempt against the Port striker?
Last year in this same fixture, it could, perhaps, be argued that we had off day, against a good Port Melbourne team. This year, the Port side we faced was not nearly as good as the side that failed to clinch promotion to the VPL on the final day of the season. And there's no disrespect intended there - after all, they did do the job on us - but the state league 1 table doesn't lie.
What is evident, is that just about every other side we play is more clinical and more direct than we have been all season - and the tremendous start to the season we had was some sort of strange illusion. It is also evident that there is disharmony in the playing group. There are no obvious leaders on the park, especially in midfield, willing to take the game on, to 'boss' the game, to use the vernacular.
Everyone appears to be at their wits end. The board can only do so much - again, there is little doubt that the quality of the team over all is good. Everything else is fine - there are still teething problems with the venue, the social club renovation still hasn't started, but overall the ground is a joy to visit. The facilities from the players are top notch.
The coaches seem unable to find a solution to the malaise, and yet they must at least find some way of improvising improved results for another three weeks before the transfer winbdow opens - and even then, who would one bring over that is available?
Perhaps the best and worst thing about the match, is that there was hardly anyone there to see it. Another paltry cup crowd, which seems to re-emphasise the point about a lack of interest in this competition from all supporters, though the weather didn't help - but considering there was also two forfeits and several teams playing weakened squad, one has to ask how seriously even the clubs are taking it.
So, we're out of the cup, morale is at another low, our best forward, who hasn't been getting much supply anyway, is probably out, and we have to go to Kingston Heath on Friday, to play the young and plucky Bentleigh Greens. We attend out of a sort of religious duty, a fealty to the club that should go beyond results. But everyone has their limits - just how much damage this does to the club's alread ravaged supporter base is anyone's guess.