PV: S. Soufi 2, A. Caro
FTZ: F. De Moraes 2, L.Kruel (OG)
It was just like taking a step back in time as V-League futsal made a return to the old timeslot of Wednesday night and what a treat the fixtured game was as Pascoe Vale looked to clinch the 2013 title against the most improved side in the league in Fitzroy. Representatives from Metropolitan were spotted in the crowd as they would be cheering for Fitzroy to cause one of the biggest upsets this season, a win for the underdogs would hand Metro the advantage to lift their first piece of silverware while a draw would make it level on points going into the last round of the season.
As the action got underway in the first half, Pascoe were keen to stamp their authority on the game and to make their voices – or screams – heard as a couple of bellows from key players went close to shattering the glass of the front doors. Luckily they could back up their actions as Sofiane Soufi slotted the ball underneath keeper Jack Zilles who it’s fair to say looked a little bit shaky after his week off due to a red card. A few tense minutes later, a swift counter attack by Alistair Dunlop and Fernando was intercepted by Lucas Kruel for an own goal to make it 1-1. The drama didn’t end there as moments later one of the major talking points of the game occurred as Pascoe keeper Lorenzo De Paris brought down dynamo forward Joe Monteleone which was clearly a penalty but it was just a question of whether or not it was a red card offence? If a poll was taken from the crowd it would most likely be a 50-50 result. Buoyed by taking the lead, Fernando made sure that the momentum stayed with his side going into the break by scoring one of the goals of the season, a bullet of a strike right into the roof of the net past De Paris which had the crowd absolutely stunned and Pascoe Vale for that matter who were down 3-1 and in a state of complete disbelief.
To get back into the game and halt Fitzroy’s growing confidence, Pascoe really needed to score early and they got their wish as Soufi got his second of the match by easily shooting over Zilles who went to ground a little too early – which was well read by the French striker. Still leading by a goal, Fitzroy were defending with all of their might, laying tackle after tackle, constantly putting their body on the line – none more so than Zilles who made a point blank save with his face! But it seemed it was only a matter of time before Pascoe equalised and who else to do it than captain and leader Andre Caro who hit a first time strike just beyond halfway. To their credit, Fitzroy never dropped their heads or never dropped their intensity levels and in the end were rewarded with their fifth foul – with fifteen minutes on the clock – although Pascoe pleaded their innocence it made no difference and the current league champs were treading in thin ice as one wrong move would take Fitzroy to the 10m penalty spot. It was always going to be a massive ask for Pascoe Vale to defend five fouls with such a large amount of time on the clock remaining. It was inevitable that in such a high intensity game another foul was bound to be committed and with only a few minutes remaining Fitzroy got their wish. The obvious choice for the penalty taker was Fernando, but in a shock move the responsibility of the three points – and in Metro’s case; the 2013 title – was handed to Ilhan Altuntas. Altuntas, who is mature beyond his years, confidently took his strike, had beaten De Paris but couldn’t beat the crossbar.
With the penalty being the last major action of the half, the score remained at 3-3 and Pascoe Vale went to the top of the V-League ladder albeit by goal difference going into round 22. Hands down this game was clearly one of the best regular season games to take place in recent times, it had an atmosphere worthy of a cup final and brought the entire crowd to their feet. It was a brave battle from Fitzroy who’s majority of the squad played in the State League last season with the additions of Fernando and Mark Burton, it just goes to show you how far Todd Miles’ lads have come this season. After the additions (De Paris, Kruel, Novak) Paul Vidic had made to his squad in the mid season transfer window, majority of fans had voiced concerns that they would stroll to the title, but just as Fitzroy have demonstrated tonight, with the right attitude and staying completely focused for 46 intense minutes of futsal even Pascoe Vale can be knocked off their perch. It now all goes into the last round and believe me when i say there will be fireworks.
Man of the Match: Fernando De Moraes (Fitzroy)
The stage was set for Fernando to step up against the mighty Pascoe Vale and claim his title as the best in the league. The Brazilian has worked wonders with his young team mates over the course of the season and what better way to showcase their development than against Pascoe Vale. Hard to beat in defence, involved in all of his sides goals, beat De Paris from the penalty spot and ripped Kruel down the sideline to score one of the goals of the year. Fernando has shown us all that he still is undoubtedly the KING of the V-League.