The best part about competing in the nationwide FFA Cup is the chance to face teams from different divisions and competitions along the way.
Laverton Park met Boroondara-Carey for the first time in the first round of the cup on Saturday and was supremely impressed by what the visitors served up at Laverton Park Reserve.
“They run a lot, that’s for sure,” Reds coach Vince De La Plaza told Star Weekly.
“They’re a young, fit side and they don’t give you time on the ball. They put pressure on you.”
That pressure eventually told on the scoreboard, and although Boroondara-Carey took the best part of 75 minutes to break down the Reds, they struck twice in the final 15 minutes to eliminate their hosts 2-0.
De La Plaza is not thrilled having to return to the pre-season friendly circuit for a month before the start of the state league 5 season, but he knows his players gave it their all over the past fortnight, which included an FFA Cup qualifier win over Meadow Park.
“It was pretty tough,” he said. “We did OK, we fought hard, but we’ve still got a few young kids playing and haven’t got the full squad yet.
“They’re struggling to keep up with the pace of the game, which is understandable. As we get further into the season, they might step up, but they’re not ready yet.”
One youngster who has likely earned a spot in the first team for round one is Luis Bustos, who impressed with his toughness in a central midfield role.
“He’s one kid who’s standing out,” De La Plaza said. “He had a good game last week and he fought hard today. He’s a tough player, he gets in and tackles and wins a lot of hard balls.”
Christian Bustos was the other standout, hardly letting anything go by him in defence.
But it was a sour end to the day for Maurice Vera, who limped off with a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Altona North had a heart- breaking elimination from the FFA Cup, losing 5-4 on penalties to Epping City at Harvest Home Reserve.
Neither side could find the back of the net for 120 minutes, but Epping held its nerve in the shootout.
Also in the FFA Cup, Melbourne City came from a goal down to beat Surf Coast 2-1 away and will be at home to Epping City in the second round on Saturday.
Maribyrnong Greens advanced with a 3-1 win over Old Xavarians to earn a second-round match away at Boroondara-Carey.
But Melbourne Lions were eliminated in a 6-0 loss to Moreland Eagles.