By Steve Fleming
On a cold, wet and sometimes blustery Wednesday evening, the Yarra Valley Soccer Club hosted Maroondah SC for its first night game under the new floodlights at Millgrove Recreation Reserve.
It was the sole contest for the week as the VCFA declared a general bye for the long weekend, held as a catch-up due to an earlier match being postponed because of Covid protocols.
While the chill and drizzle dampened the players during the warm-up, the atmosphere was buoyant as the YVSC Fourths looked to notch up their first win for the season against a team firmly entrenched near the top of the ladder.
The Valley began the match in fighting spirit with Isireli Lyons dominating contests in the midfield as the YVSC attackers harassed the Maroondah goal.
The hard work was rewarded when a stunning long range goal from Paul Healey opened the Valley account halfway through the first half. Not to be outdone, and despite repeated defensive heroics by Josh Willemsen, Maroondah responded with a goal of their own close to half-time.
As the second half progressed it was clear why Maroondah sat near the top of the table pinning the Valley in their own defensive half for much of the remainder of the match.
While Valley made some runs into their forward line and came close on several occasions to breaking the deadlock, a defensive blunder led to Maroondah scoring what would be the deciding goal with 20 minutes to go.
Despite the loss it was still a great occasion for the Valley to play under lights for the first time.
The floodlights were part of a $2.3 million upgrade to the site and they made a brilliant statement against the dark wintery sky.
The Valley eagerly anticipate the handover of the rest of the pavilion from the builders in July so they can host visiting teams in more comfort, providing changerooms, showers and warm soup to ward off the chill.