VPL 2 Round 1 Match Report: Wembley Park buzzing for Box Hill United’s season opener

Football is back and there was truly no better way to open up the season than with a Senior Men’s home game vs Pascoe Vale at Wembley Park.

There was a real family feel at the club before the game, with a photoshoot of all the current juniors, stands absolutely packed and many at the ground craving a juicy Souva from the canteen. The Club showcased the togetherness it preaches and the importance of inclusivity with all current players showing up to support the Seniors.

The build-up and anticipation towards this season has reached fever pitch, with Tony Merakis’ first full season, a squad filled with new players and talented internationals, as well as the club setting high ambitions for 2024 making it an extremely entertaining start to the campaign.

As Pythagoras TV’s pilot broadcast was streamed live on Facebook, fans were also treated to a step back in time with commentary from Greg Blake and Kyle Patterson.

Ryo Okamoto gets a shot away on his Box Hill United debut.

In the early stages of the match, tempers flared and it all kicked off after a late tackle by former Box Hill player Maximo Naveiro on captain Michael Romas. Quickly, the rest of the Box Hill United team got around their captain, proving the togetherness and great culture Romas has spoken about many times in pre-season.

10 minutes later against the run of play, Pascoe Vale opened the scoring. Nick Hatzigeorgiou slotted home inside the box after some quick passing and the visitors were off the mark.

Shortly after that, it was a fantastic goal line clearance from new signing Sam Maramis but unfortunately was followed up by a foul in the box, with the penalty awarded to Pascoe Vale. Joe Piggott buried his spot-kick into the bottom left corner to double the visitors’ lead.

Agustin Casco continued his brilliant first half display rifling a free kick towards the top left corner, but the amazing effort was touched over the bar by Pascoe Vale goalkeeper Hrvoje Cakarun.

Right before the break, Luke Del Vecchio made his presence known making two crucial stops in two minutes, including a fantastic leaping save to stop a powerful high strike in the top corner. Lifted in confidence and showed Box Hill his quality in the first half.

Box Hill United went into half time down 2-0 to the visitors with the scoreboard not quite reflecting how close the match was on the pitch.

Yianni Toumanidis on the ball with a start in his first appearance for Box Hill.

Out from the break, the Box Hill United team were playing quick and direct with a clear plan to get back into the game.

A real tussle after half time with tempers flaring once again after captain Romas was subjected to another hard foul by a Pascoe Vale defender which set off each team’s players to break up a potential scuffle.

After a tough, gritty first stanza, Tony Merakis looked to the bench for some inspiration with a triple substitution. Tyrese Tam, Tarek Atta and Nick Weller replaced Ryo Okamoto, Rhys Jones and Yianni Toumanidis.

Not long after that, Sean Png made his senior debut for the club replacing Sam Maramis.

A string of consecutive attacks entering the box were failed at the final ball and time was quickly running out for Box Hill United to find the back of the net.

Nick Weller added some spark as substitute.

Right before the final whistle, Pascoe Vale added a third goal after another good save by Del Vecchio was turned home on the rebound.

Overall, a frustrating night on the pitch but one of celebration for the club that had the whole Box Hill United community sharing a fantastic night at Wembley Park.

There was no shortage of fight and passion after the early two goal deficit and there will be a lot for Tony Merakis to like after some impressive individual performances. The squad can take many learnings from a Pascoe Vale outfit predicted to be high up the table this season.

Next week, Box Hill United travel to Larissa Reserve to face the North Sunshine Eagles on Saturday, March 16 – 8:15pm kick-off.

Final Score:

Box Hill United 0 – Pascoe Vale 3


Written by Theo Athans

Images credit: Passion Creations