Alou Kuol’s masterful, seven-goal display single-handedly carried the Goulburn Valley Suns’ under-20s to a vital win against Box Hill United.
The red-hot youngster simply could not stop scoring; he had buried four by half-time where the sides went in locked at 4-4, and banged home another three in the second to help his side win 7-5.
Coach Stuart Vance said the dominating performance was the striker at his absolute best.
‘‘Alou is exceptional — he’s capable of doing that,’’ he said.
‘‘His performance was completely dominant, every time he got the ball it looked likely he would score.
‘‘On the day his finishing was just spot on, he always creates chances, but the finishing isn’t always there. On Saturday, he took his chances.’’
In an absolute goal-fest at McEwen Reserve, both sides came out on fire, with Kuol answering Keegan Grealy’s 10th minute opener within a minute.
United’s Sung Min Lee scored for 2-1 on 18 minutes before Kuol again answered, and he found another two goals in three minutes after Kristopher Alexiou made it 3-2 to put the Suns in front.
But seconds before the break United’s Ryan Kirkus levelled the scores.
Vance said the game looked evenly poised at the half, but his troops should have been well in control.
‘‘To be honest it wasn’t really a back and forwards game, we were dominant in the first half, just mistakes basically gifted them their goals,’’ he said.
‘‘That was really disappointing, but the boys showed character and just found a way.’’
Four goals in a game is normally enough to satisfy a striker, but Kuol was just getting started.
It took five minutes of the second half for the Suns to grab their lead back, and the star striker popped in a sixth on the hour mark for 6-4.
Grealy put home a penalty late on to set up a nervous final 10 minutes, but Kuol cooled his side’s nerves with a seventh, wrapping up the 7-5 scoreline.
The win was the Suns’ second straight and third game without a loss — but even at fourth on the table they sit eight points behind competition leader Springvale, which has reeled off six straight wins to open the season.
The coach said the three points helped ease the pain of another inconsistent defensive showing.
‘‘It was definitely a high-scoring affair, and I think the fans got their money’s worth,’’ Vance said.
‘‘It definitely caused my assistant Paul Amadei and myself a few grey hairs; we’re happy with the win, but conceding five goals is never good.’’
The midfield trio of Cooper Gosstray, James Lelliott and Fraser Gosstray were crucial in the win, lifting their work-rate in the second half to get their team on the winning track.
Kuol, who scored his first of the season a fortnight ago against the Eastern Lions before four goals last week at Melbourne City, is the runaway golden boot leader with 12 for the season, six clear of second place.