PRESSURE is mounting on Ballarat Red Devils to produce a stellar end of season to avoid relegation from the National Premier Leagues Victoria.
The McDonald’s Reds were handed a 2-1 loss by Green Gully at its home of Green Gully Reserve in round 21 on Saturday afternoon.
Goals to Gully’s Brent Fisher and Jason Hayne near the start of each half put the Red Devils immediately on the back foot, with only Shaun Romein able to find the back of the net for the visitors.
The result marks Ballarat’s second loss in three days after a spell of three away games in less than a week.
Fisher opened the scoring after 12 minutes when he found space to tap in a perfect cross from Hayne.
Ballarat had a good chance to equalise just two minutes later when Sean Harding played in Deng Aguek, but the striker’s shot was well saved by Gully goalkeeper Kieran Gonzalez.
Red Devil keeper Aaron Romein pulled off a excellent save of his own several minutes later when pitted one-on-one against Hayne, before Liam Harding almost levelled the scores with a saved strike from 20 metres.
Gully came out firing in the second half, with Hayne doubling its lead at the 52-minute mark.
An error from Thomas Deng in the box gifted Shaun Romein the chance to pull one back from the spot and he made no mistake.
Romein’s goal spurred the Red Devils into action, but Gully’s sound defence proved too much for Ballarat’s forays into attack.
Only Liam Harding and Michael Trigger managed shots at goal in the final minutes, all of which were thwarted by the in-form Gonzalez.
Ballarat now sits in 13th spot on the NPLV ladder, seven points clear of bottom placed Goulburn Valley, but five shy of Werribee City.
Red Devils player manager James Robinson was disap-
pointed with his side’s accuracy as they battle to stay up.
“Disappointed for the players,” Robinson told the Football Federation Victoria website. “Green Gully turned up today and took the three points.
“You don’t take the opportunities, you’re going to get punished.
Red Devils will next play Dandenong Thunder at home on Saturday, with only five round plus a catch-up week left in the home and away season.