The first 20 or so minutes of the game, we carried on from where we left off last week. Free flowing football, our opponents on the backfoot looking clueless. We hit the crossbar twice within five seconds, then not long after basically gave Gully the opening goal, and that was that. Gully deployed their rugby union tactics - lots of fouls and stop start play, and the old 'if in doubt, kick it out' - and our team lost all confidence and idea of how to go about their business.
For all the attacking issues we've had over the course of the season, we've scarcely been able to keep a clean sheet at the other end. On our bad days, the midfield seems to leave a huge gap between themselves and the defence after a turnover; and when we eventually regain the ball, they are either too near the defense or too far away from it.
One also gets the feeling that we always have at least one weak link in our defensive line up that the opposition will exploit mercilessly. A few years ago it Arthur Tsonis post knee operation; then Ramazan Tavsancioglu and his inability to properly position himself; then Rhodri Payne, who'd cough up in midfield and leave a massive gap behind him; and now it's Steven O'Dor, who opposition teams don't bother about closing down because they believe that he won't do anything of note with the ball coming out, and who'll they target with a speedy player because he doesn't keep the offside line as tight as he should.
Gully is an ugly team to watch, but they keep getting results. I'm not sure I could stomach their kind of play on a weekly basis, but that's their culture and it works for them. Good or bad day, there is no mystery to how they play, but why our club seems to have an issue in dealing with this I don't know. At halftime I was sent a text message asking for the score - 1-0 to Gully - and then a follow up question 'deserved' - all I could reply with was, not really.
By the end of the match, the summation was more definite - 2-0 ft, dreadful. By that stage we'd gifted them another goal, had Tom Matthews sent off for abusing a linesman, Joe Montemurro walking off the bench either sent off or in disgust, and spent 45 minutes going round in circles, or worse, going no where at all, playing the ball out slowly as if we were 2-0 up instead of 2-0 down.
Compounding the disaster of the day, was that just about every other result went against us well. Oakleigh, Hume, Knights Richmond and Bentleigh all won, which combined with our Gully loss means that the gap to the top five that'd we worked hard to close opened up again.
Next up is Richmond, who whatever limitations they may have on the field, will at least come out fired up. I saw them play Heidelberg on Friday night, and while the game was far from impressive, Richmond was at least able to grind out a 3-2 win. And you can be sure that Kyle Joryeff, who crossed over to Richmond during the transfer window and scored the opening goal last week, will be especially fired up to prove a point.
I'm not saying that all is lost - there's eight games to go, a lot of points to get, and a lot of strange things yet to happen - but with performances like that second half especially, we should be thankful that the bottom two relegation spots are basically done and dusted.
I'm also hoping that there's a player in this squad who will come out and have a blinder of a run home. Rather atypically, I was thinking earlier about who I would give my best and fairest award to, and I could not think of one player that has stood out even half consistently over the course of the season. That's not a good place to be in.