Round 9 2018 v Northcote City FC

The third game in a week saw Avondale FC take on newly promoted Northcote City FC, after a Round 5 FFA Cup win against FC Bulleen Lions mid-week.

With a first-team debut to 18-year-old Chris Dossis last game, his performance was enough to keep a place in the squad. Only one change to the squad with Stefan Zinni returning from a one-game suspension for 17-year-old Christian Inglese moving back down to the U20s.

Club captain Phil Riccobene returned to the starting lineup after being rested for the midweek FFA Cup fixture with Anthony Strano taking a place amongst the substitutes.

With the current form of Avondale FC within NPL Victoria, teams now are working even harder to try and cause an upset against the top of the table team. Northcote City FC was no different Friday night and their determination was clearly put on display in the first half. Northcote City FC made it incredibly difficult to break down as they were well organised defensively.

Avondale FC was clearly frustrated and couldn’t find the rhythm that saw them execute a 5:0 victory against FC Bulleen Lions earlier in the week. The constant pressure that Northcote City FC was able to apply made it difficult to play possession football and find the individual brilliance up front which Avondale FC supporters are used to seeing this season.

With the two teams locked in an arm wrestle the scores leading into half-time was 0:0.

A forced half-time change with Liam Boland coming off with a knock and Stefan Zinni replacing him. The pace of Zinni added some extra spice going forward and began to build pressure on the Northcote City FC back four.

The physicality of the game clearly was taking an effect on the Avondale FC players and winding down to the end of the game, Joey Katebian went down with a hamstring injury and was forced to leave the field.

With the game winding down, Northcote City FC showed their quality going forward and a mad goal line scramble saw Avondale FC somehow keep the visiting team out.

Not long later it was into injury time and the tension could be felt across Paisley Park Soccer Complex from both sets of supporters.

A ball nicely worked into the box from Avondale FC saw Kaine Sheppard with the ball at his feet, with a couple of pump fakes and turns in the box, Sheppard managed to wrap the ball around four defenders, the Northcote City FC goalkeeper and smashed into the back of the net, giving Avondale FC a 1:0 lead in the 91st minute.

A scare moments later was squelched by experienced goalkeeper Chris Oldfield after winning a one on one battle with the Northcote City FC striker and deservedly earning Oldfield a man of the match performance.

The win keeps Avondale FC firmly planted at the top of the table but Bentleigh Greens remain equal on points and games won.

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