By Lance Jenkinson
Altona Magic coach Goran Lozanovski was seething about two decisions which meant his team finished a deflating 2-0 NPL Victoria season-opener to Hume City on Saturday night with nine men.
Lozanovski branded the decisions leading to the dismissals of Magic players Maarten Hemmen and Nicholas Sette as “soft”.
Hemmen’s second yellow card was awarded for a dive, though it appeared as though there was contact made on him inside the box.
Sette received two yellow cards in a matter of seconds, one for approaching the referee in a confrontational manner, the other for comments made while walking away.
Lozanovski was dumbfounded by the decision not to award Hemmen a penalty and has called on NPL referees to consult with their assistant referees before making the big decision of sending a player off.
“At least have a conversation to your officials on the sidelines, your fourth official and just say hey, this is what I saw, what do you think?” Lozanovski said.
“Let’s get a second opinion before you make that call [to send a player off].”
On the Sette sending off, Lozanovski conceded it was not so clear-cut, but he is asking for match officials to have a thicker skin when dealing with emotional players.
“He got a yellow card for confronting the referee,” Lozanovski said.
“When he walked away, from my discussion with Nicholas, him being a young man said in a smart alec way, ‘well done, onya’, and he [the ref] couldn’t handle that, took offence to that and he sent him off.
“You have to understand the player’s frustration in the moment.”
While they spent a large chunk of the game two men down, Altona Magic never waved the white flag.
The Magic kept fighting towards an equaliser in the second half, but spending so long on the back foot took its toll.
They were spent by game’s end and Steven Hewitt took full advantage for Hume City with a goalscoring double.
Lozanovski was heartened by the determination from his Magic team.
“We have to pay some respect to the boys who were left on the park and really worked hard to make sure we didn’t cop a flogging,” he said.
“I think the boys were courageous, really dug deep. It will put us in good stead because there were a lot of positives to come out of that game.”
Altona will be better for the 90 minutes. The Magic experienced a high volume of player turnover in the off season and it will take time for it all to click.
“We are, pretty much, a brand new side,” Lozanovski said.
“It will take us a few weeks to get better at what we do.”
Altona will host Avondale in its first home game of the season on Saturday evening, but not in the familiar surrounds of the Paisley Park Soccer Complex.
The Magic have been forced to relocatethe game to Stead Park in Geelong while the Paisley Park clubrooms are upgraded.
It will be a hugely important game for both sides, with the Magic desperate to get their first win and Avondale just trying to reach a zero points tally after beginning the season minus-three after a Football Victoria sanction for breaching a licence agreement.
“It will be two good football teams trying to get their first win for the year,” Lozanovski said.