The Bentleigh Greens endured a tough night against a razor-sharp Oakleigh Cannons in the 2023 Football Victoria Community Shield.
The new-look Greens went down 4-0 against reigning NPL Victoria Champions Oakleigh at Kingston Heath as Alex Fiechtner, Chris Lucas, Emlyn Wellsmore, and Alex Salmon scored the goals for the Cannons.
With no less than seven players making their competitive debut for Bentleigh, the Greens were always going to need some time to find their feet, and the Cannons were undoubtedly the toughest test that Victorian football could have thrown up.
After an even opening 10 minutes, the Cannons slowly took the ascendency and hit the lead after 15 minutes via Fiechtner.
The Greens looked to respond with some strong running down the flanks as debutant Manase Abandelwa’s pace gave the Cannons full-backs something to think about. However, shots on target were few and far between for the Greens’ attack.
That wasn’t the case at the other end, with debut keeper Christian Pavlidis kept busy by a sharp Oakleigh attack.
Lucas scored the Cannons’ second in the 34th minute.
Tom Stickland then had the best shot on goal for the Greens, striking from just inside the attacking half to try and catch the Oakleigh keeper off guard.
The second half started brightly for the Greens, who were unlucky to have a strong penalty claim from Abandelwa turned down as he appeared to be brought down inside the box.
The night went from bad to worse after that, as Wellsmore made it 3-0 with a lovely lofted effort after the Cannons pounced on a bad turnover in the final third.
In the 68th minute, Salmon sealed the win for the Cannons as he scored his side’s fourth.
The Greens now turn their attention to a Round 1 NPL Victoria clash against newly promoted North Geelong at Kingston Heath next Friday night.