South East United were handed another valuable lesson in life at the senior level, as Nelson bundled us out of the Lakoseljac Cup on a glorious Holiday Monday at KGV.
It was not the way we had hoped our maiden voyage into senior football would go, although things started brightly enough. For the opening twenty minutes, we had arguably the better of the exchanges, with youngsters Nick and Pat in particular looking dangerous, in front of a sizeable and highly vocal supporter group in the grandstand.
However, another awful defensive calamity served up the opener on a plate for Nelson midway through the term. Despite the demoralising nature of the goal, South East regrouped to enjoy our best spell of the game.
The game’s real turning point came five minutes before the interval, when South East skipper Tony Damm was involved in a heavy collision with the Nelson ‘keeper, and had to be helped from the field nursing a badly twisted ankle.
A minute later it was 2-0, with another cheap turnover in transition leading to a Nelson player racing through on goal, and finishing expertly.
Coach Glen Roland’s message at the break was to be more secure in possession, because we had been well in this game and it had taken two terrible mistakes to make the difference.
We came out with renewed purpose, however ten minutes in, we failed to clear our lines and, after a bit of ping-pong in the box, Nelson were able to make it three, and the contest was effectively over.
Nelson went on to score four more without reply as the pattern of the game became all too predictable. Nelson were well-organised, holding back and waiting for our transition to break down, which it did too often without pressure, and then they broke quickly, picking us off to add to their tally almost at will.
We have had similar experiences in our Summer Cup games with Metro and Hobart United, where games we were well in have been undone by simple mistakes and, at this level, you just don’t get away with it.
But, once again, there is no need to be downbeat. In every game we have proven that we have the ability to mix it with teams in the Southern Championships.
However, these teams also boast a lot of experience, and they are all very well-organised, with big squads and experienced coaches. We are only at the start of our journey, and our coaching staff will be working hard with the players to learn from and hopefully eliminate these mistakes.
A special word of thanks must go to our supporter group, who never stopped cheering their encouragement right to the end.