THREE first-half goals from Baggio Yousif helped Moreland Zebras complete a successful trip to Ballarat on Saturday.
The visitors claimed all three points from the National Premier Leagues Victoria 2 round one fixture with a 3-1 win at Morshead Park.
Yousif was the hat-trick hero, with his goals coming in the 10th, 25th and 45th minutes of the match.
Ballarat – which was without a host of key players for the clash – scored an early goal in the second half through Pat Karras, but it proved just a consolation in the end result.
Red Devils manager James Robinson listed seven players unavailable on Friday and then had the experienced Josh Romein (personal reasons) and youngster Brandon Lauton (illness) pull out of the squad before kick-off on Saturday.
Robinson was clearly disappointed with the performance in the first half.
“We (didn’t) do ourselves any favours in the first half, to be honest,” Robinson told The Courier.
“But I thought the players were very brave in the second half. I said to them: ‘if we get the first one, we’ll create chances’ and we did. We just needed that final bit of quality.”
Robinson didn’t want to make excuses for the defeat, but reality is that the Reds fielded an inexperienced line-up on Saturday.
“We had a few inexperienced players that played, but you only get that (experience) by playing,” he said.
“But we need to learn sharply.”
Robinson, who gave senior debuts to Jake Selby and Josh Lynch on Saturday, said there would be competition for places in the coming weeks with many players set to return.
“That’s the key,” he said.
“We know we can do better, but what I know is: it’s going to be a harsh learning curve to start with.”
Robinson didn’t want to be drawn back into discussing the off-field issues that plagued the club in the lead-up to the season – declaring “that’s the past” - but admitted it was good to be back playing matches.
The Reds, which are second last on the west division table, now prepare for a round two home encounter against Moreland City next Sunday afternoon.
Ballarat then hits the road for the first time in round three for a clash against St Albans Saints.
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