ALTONA Magic was the victim of a smash and grab raid from a calculated North Geelong Warriors in the Football Federation Victoria men's state league 1 at Paisley Park on Saturday.
The Magic conceded a goal inside 25 minutes in the campaign opener and try as they might could not find an equaliser as the Warriors put up a brick wall-like defence.
A deflated Magic coach Zoran Trajcevski said it was not the ideal way to begin a new season.
"It's a very disappointing start. Especially to lose at home."
The Magic made a lacklustre start to the game. Trajcevski says the "pressure" of opening day might have unsettled his team.
They also had to deal with injuries that forced star players Benjamin Vahid and Kliment Dimitrieski to miss. And a red card to flying winger George Papadopoulos for a tackle the referee deemed reckless put a further dent in their aspirations.
Strangely, the Magic appeared to play with a lot more freedom after Papadopoulos was given his marching orders.
"We started playing when we had 10 players because we had nothing to lose," Trajcevski said. "Without pressure we played much better."
The Magic did the bulk of the attacking in the second half and the man on the end of most attacking thrusts was Juso Julardzija.
The new recruit from Redlands United in the Brisbane Premier League had a mixed outing. His general play earned a gold star from his coach but with a disclaimer.
"He's a quality player, technically good and very quick," Trajcevski said.
"He worked really hard and put plenty of pressure on when we had 10 men.
"But sometimes he was selfish. You have to be as a striker, but he was a bit too selfish."
The Magic will regroup over Easter and prepare for a Monday night showdown with FC Bulleen Lions at the Veneto Club on April 16.
SL1: Altona Magic 0 North Geelong Warriors 1
SL2: Keilor Park 5 Altona East Phoenix 1, Altona City 0 Fawkner Blues 3
SL3: Geelong 1 Yarraville Glory 4, Williamstown 2 Whittlesea United 3
PL1: Maribyrnong Greens 2 Northern Falcons 1
PL2: Brunswick Zebras 2 Laverton Park 2
PL3: Balmoral 0 Melbourne City 0
MML: Prahran 2 Altona North 2