The Sydney Rangers put four goals past the Melbourne Rovers to win the third annual Justin Fashanu Cup on Saturday, claiming a 4-1 victory in extra time.
The Rangers travelled to Melbourne intent on reclaiming the holy grail of Australian gay soccer in a highly charged encounter. It took 80 minutes for Melbourne Rover player Will Pisani to break the initial deadlock against the run of play.
The Melbourne Rovers almost had one hand on the trophy until Rangers captain Koji Niikura expertly guided his head to the end of an inch perfect cross by Hiroshu Tsuchiya to send the match into extra time with the score locked at 1-1.
The added minutes remained highly competitive, but the Rangers played some slick passing football, resulting in a scramble to make the score 2-1 after an own goal by Melbourne.
In the second half of extra time, the Rangers broke through a tired Rovers defence with goals from Danny Shah and Gavin Mears to cap off a well-deserved victory.
Football Federation Victoria president Nick Monteleone and his wife attended the match. Monteleone noted that the Justin Fashanu Cup has been won by the visitors each time it has been played and said Sydney can now look forward to being the first team to retain the Cup on home soil in 2012.
The Cup day program began with an inaugural friendly women’s match between gay women from the Melbourne Rovers and Yarra Jets.
The Justin Fashanu Cup commemorates English star striker Justin Fashanu, the first professional footballer to come out but who took his own life 18 months later.
In a message to Australian organisers, the UK-based Justin Campaign’s founding director Jason Hall noted the game was being played 21 years and one day after Justin Fashanu came out to the world on October 21 1990.
“The Justin Campaign works to make football more inclusive, because attitudes in football still lag behind other sports and society in general,” Hall said.
INFO: To find out about playing with the Rangers, contact Gavin Mears at email@example.com or on 0437 695 854