“AUSC Graduates Red FFA Cup Thriller”

Awaiting the FFA Cup Preliminary draw we were anxiously hoping to avoid the two Mount Gambier sides, as well as Northern Demons from Port Pirie. As fate has it, we were the first away club drawn out of the hat, with a small six hour bus trip to ‘Gambier’ being the outcome.

We knew it would not be an easy game; playing the champions of the last three seasons on their backyard would never be. However, we knew that if we were to avenge our previous loss to them four years ago, we would have to bring over a strong side and a great support crew which we successfully did.

We left from Adelaide Uni at 7.30 in the morning, with the team from Remy & Violette supplying breakfast to the travelling players and supporters. A couple of short stops on the way, some loud music playing from our favourite bus driver Dave and we arrived at the Blue Lake for a few quick selfies and short walk to loosen up.

Missing a number of first team players could have had the players nervous about the fixture, especially for our new 16-year-old goal keeper, Dakota Ochsenham (previously of Cumberland).

If we were nervous, it didn’t show, with Peter Donegan opening the scoring in the opening minute in spectacular style, chesting and volleying the ball into the side netting from an acute angle. Only minutes later, Stefan Harris scored his best goal for the Reds; after bringing down a clearance on his chest, his first time volley riffled into the top corner from 25-yards.

It got better for the Reds before half time with both Kosta Christopolous and Sasa Zekanovic (from Cobras and White City respectively) scoring in their first competitive debuts for Adelaide University with two sublime finishes.

The half time talk was kept in perspective, with the coach reminding the players that we can not let our foot off the pedal in the second half and allow them back into the game.

The team talk worked, with the second half starting much like the first, with two quick goals for James Burnell and Sasa Zekanovic.

We didn’t always have it our way though, relying on young goalkeeper Dakota to pull off a number of amazing reflex saves, as well as putting his body on the line for a difficult cross that he punched clear of danger. This punch ultimately led to AUSC’s goal of the match 15 seconds later, as James Burnell found the ball on his favoured left foot, where he proceeded to score arguably, our finest goal of the match, hitting it into the top corner (slicing the post and crossbar in the process) from 35 yards.

Further goals from Christopolous, Jovan Joksimovic were followed by Zekanovic completing his hat-trick on debut. With Dragan Legic and Phil Kirreh (formally of White City & Croydon respectively) coming on to make their Grads Red debuts, it was happy days all round.

A consolation goal with the last kick of the game for Inter Soccer Club from the spot gave their home side something to celebrate.

The home fans were brilliant all day, with a special thanks to the Inter Italia Community for providing the Adelaide University players with an authentic home made lasagne after full time. Their hospitality on the day was incredible and greatly appreciated by all players and spectators. This was a special day for the team and specifically for our club to be recognised in spectacular fashion at this high level of competition.

A warm ‘thank you’ to all who worked hard for this and to those spectators who made the trip to Mt Gambier to support us.

The draw for the Round of 16 will take place at noon on Tuesday March 22 and we are eagerly awaiting the next game.

Final score

Grads Red 10 -1 International
Sasa Zekanovic 3
Kosta Christopoulos 2
James Burnell 2
Jovan Joksimovic 1
Peter Donegan 1
Stefan Harris 1