A win in the sixth round of the FFA Cup would see Avondale FC reach the seventh round for the first time in its history, and one more win away from reaching the nationally televised competition the Round of 32.
Although playing a team from a lower division, it was not going to be an easy task against North Sunshine Eagles FC, as they currently sit top of the North/West State League 1 competition.
After Avondale FC drew 2:2 with Melbourne Knights FC on Friday night, it was a short turnaround to play a mid-week cup game at the Knights venue again, Knights Stadium. With the mid-week fixture comes opportunities for players within the squad. From the Friday night game, there were three changes to the starting line-up. Liam Boland missed through illness and was replaced by a delightful story in Jem Berkant who returned after a serious knee injury suffered last season, Anthony Strano returned for a rested Phil Riccobene, and James Riccobene came into the starting line-up for Jeff Fleming.
Also coming into the first team squad on the substitutes bench was John Mark Offeh who has impressed the last few weeks in the U20 squad which has hit some great form.
With the outside predictions that an NPL team should be comfortable against a state league team, the start of the game was anything but. Both teams enjoyed possession of the ball and were able to work the ball into their attacking boxes. Chances to both sides went begging.
With the return of Jem Berkant, his quality was evident, driving forward at most opportunities and going past the North Sunshine Eagles FC defence with ease at times. In the 13th minute, a dazzling drive by Jem was cut short just outside the box and Avondale FC were awarded the free kick.
There was no mistake with the free kick as the man on fire Kaine Sheppard stepped up and converted an expertly taken set piece to send the scoreline to 1:0.
For the remainder of the first half, Avondale FC retained the bulk of possession and took the 1:0 scoreline into the halftime break.
The second half was a step up in gears for Avondale FC made even more possible by a red card to the North Sunshine Eagles FC captain in the 54th minute after receiving his second yellow card.
Down to 10 men the North Sunshine Eagles FC were always going to struggle and in the 68th minute, Kaine Sheppard was able to double his tally with a vicious left-foot strike from inside the box which the keeper could do nothing about. Sheppard was awarded a rest and made way with the scoreline 2:0.
In his place came youngster Christian Inglese, and the substitute was able to get on the scoresheet after a dazzling run by livewire Elvis Kamsoba, who cut the ball back to a waiting Inglese to finish on his opposite peg. The goal was Christian Inglese’s first goal as a senior player, not bad for a seventeen-year-old.
Avondale FC’s faith in youth continued as John Mark Offeh made his first-team debut, after his recent performances in the U20 squad. So far this season, 4 U20 players have been used in the first team, showing Avondale FC commitment to developing young players.
The night was sealed in the 85th minute when it was that youngster, John Mark Offeh, who placed a perfect ball for speedster Stefan Zinni into the box, and Zinni made no mistake putting the ball into the back of the net and Avondale FC running away 4:0 winners on the night.
It was yet again another milestone reached in Season 2018 as we progressed to the 7th Round of the FFA Cup, our first time ever. This means Avondale FC will be one win away from the National competition, Round of 32, which is broadcasted all over Australia, live on Fox Sports. The team we will face in Round 7 will be determined 12:30 Monday 14th May, be sure to tune into FFV’s Facebook page for the live draw and appearances from members of the club’s first-team.