The magic of the FFA Cup is a little like the purchase of a lotto ticket. While unlikely, something special just might happen. As the competition heads into its Round of 16 this week, its results to date wouldn’t be out of place in a Brothers Grimm compilation.
From lower league Adelaide City defeating West Sydney Wanderers. Fellow semi-professional teams Bentleigh Greens and Hume City reaching the Semi Finals in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Or the Boys Own Annual story of Hume City’s Jai Ingham graduating from playing against Melbourne Victory in the FFA Cup Semi Final to scoring goals for them in the Asian Champions League and against Juventus in the International Champions Cup, the FFA Cup has delivered the most romantic of sporting tales in its short history.
In February, 2015 Champions Melbourne Victory saw their hard fought prize again put up for grabs.
After five months and 8 different qualifying stages, 704 teams from all the levels of Australian football were whittled down to 21.
The successful few joining the 10 A-League teams and the 2015 National Premier League Champions in qualifying for the Round of 32 and the chance to write their names into Australian footballing folklore.
The Round of 32 was spread over four match nights in late July and early August with games played in each state and territory.
The 16 games saw 56 goals, 7 of which were late equalisers or winners, 4 extra time periods and 2 penalty shoot-outs.
Action packed as it was, the round will be remembered for the following:
Melbourne’s 2014 Semi Finalists Bentleigh Greens travelled to Adelaide to take on North Eastern Metro Stars. The Metro Stars conceded the lead three times and required late equalisers in the 95th minute of regular time and the 114th minute of Extra Time to send the contest to penalties. Unfortunately this is where their heroics ended, succumbing to Bentleigh in the shoot-out.
Blacktown City and Sydney United couldn’t be separated after 90 minutes, only reasonable then that an absolute cracker from Danny Choi was needed to break the deadlock in Extra Time. You need to see it here.
In the two previous FFA Cup tournaments only one A-League team had fallen to a state league team. This would have been of comfort when strugglers Central Coast travelled to Green Gully for a spot in the final 16. With less than five minutes to play, the A-League team looked the likely winners in a scrappy contest. A controversial equaliser changed all that and just when Extra Time looked inevitable, a defensive lapse from the Mariners was pounced upon by Green Gully’s Liam Boland. With time running out Boland produced a winner equal to any you’d see anywhere in the world. Even if you’ve seen it before, watch it here again and again and again.
The very next night, A-League Champions Adelaide United, made their first appearance since claiming the ‘Toilet Seat’ in front of a full house at the Adelaide Oval.
A surprisingly cold Brisbane evening and 1,564 hardy fans greeted the champs as they took on semi-professional Redlands United.
With Redlands entering the game on the back of only two wins from their last seven games, a relatively undemanding victory appeared on the cards for Adelaide.
Despite not finding their usual fluency, the weight of possession took its toll with United claiming a 1-0 lead in the second half which they clung to as the match entered injury time. As the Red’s ever reliable keeper Eugene Galekovic prepared to diffuse Redlands last ditch attempt at an equaliser, Adelaide’s progression appeared certain. Despite this, Michael Lee made position to pounce on the 1 in 100 chance of a blunder. His discipline was rewarded as Galekovic made a meal of it, meaning with the last kick of the game Lee pushed the ball into an open net and the game into extra time.
Eight minutes later an unlikely equaliser was followed up with a go ahead goal and twenty-two nail biting minutes for Redlands fans. The final whistle meant anxiety could be replaced with ecstasy and the biggest ever FFA Cup boilover was complete.
The Round of 16 will see Tim Cahill make his Melbourne City debut when they take on former NSL Champions Brisbane Strikers. There will be four all State League match ups, three David and Goliath contests with State League teams hosting A-League opposition and an all A-League affair when Sydney FC travel west to take on Perth Glory.
Match Day 5: 24th August
Brisbane Strikers v Melbourne City – Perry Park, Brisbane
Canberra Olympic v Redlands United – Deakin Stadium, Canberra
Blacktown City v Bonnyrigg White Eagles – Lily Homes Stadium, Sydney
Hume City v Melbourne Victory – ABD Stadium, Melbourne
Match Day 6: 30th August
Edgeworth FC v Western Sydney Wanderers – Magic Park, Newcastle
Devonport City v Bentleigh Greens – Valley Road, Devonport
Melbourne Knights v Green Gully – Knights Stadium, Melbourne
Perth Glory v Sydney FC – Dorrien Gardens, Perth
Will we see another romantic chapter added to the growing folklore of the FFA Cup as these teams fight for a place in the Quarter Finals?
Round of 32 Results
Match Day 1: 27th July
Hume City def Marconi Stallions 1-1 (4-2 on Penalties) – ABD Stadium, Melbourne. Crowd 913
Blacktown City def Sydney Utd 6-2 (AET) – Lily Homes Stadium, Sydney. Crowd 877
F.N. Qld def by Edgeworth FC 0-3 – Barlow Park, Cairns. Crowd 1,379
Shamrock Rovers def by Brisbane Strikers 0-6 – Darwin Football Stadium, Darwin. Crowd 1,358
Match Day 2: 2nd August
Green Gully def Central Coast 2-1 – Green Gully Reserve, Melbourne. Crowd 876
W.S. Wanderers def Wellington Phoenix 3-2 – Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney. Crowd 3,212
Metro Stars def by Bentleigh Greens 3-3 (3-4 on Penalties) Elite Sys. Centre, Adelaide. Crowd 958
Floreat Athena def by Melbourne City 1-2 Dorrien Gardens, Perth. Crowd 1,408
Match Day 3: 3rd August
Redlands Utd def Adelaide Utd 2-1 (AET) – Perry Park, Brisbane. Crowd 1,564
Newcastle Jets def by Melbourne Victory 1-3 – Magic Park, Newcastle. Crowd 1,956
Canberra Olympic def Surfers Paradise Apollo 1-0 – Deakin Stadium, Canberra. Crowd 1,253
Bonnyrigg White Eagles def Manly Utd 3-0 – Bonnyrigg Sports Ground, Sydney. Crowd 327
Match Day 4: 10th August
Wollongong Wolves def by Sydney FC 0-3 – WIN Stadium, Wollingong. Crowd 8,029
Brisbane Roar def by Perth Glory 0-2 – Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane. Crowd 3,028
Devonport City def Lambton Jaffas 1-0 – Valley Road, Devonport. Crowd 2,418
Melbourne Knights def Cockburn City 2-1 – Knights Stadium, Melbourne. Crowd 1,864