Avondale FC vs Melbourne Nights
Avondale have increased their lead on top of the table after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Melbourne Knights at Avenger Park on Saturday.
There was plenty of hype coming into the top-of-the-table clash, with the Knights looking to close the gap on the top-placed Avengers, while Avondale were hoping to keep their perfect start to the season intact.
The second-placed Knights had only lost one game so far this season, but they found themselves trailing early on after Avondale got off to a dream start with a goal in only the second minute.
Stefan Zinni chased down a through ball from Liam Boland and drove dangerously into the box, before beautifully squaring a pass back across goal for a wide-open Stefan Valentini to tap into an empty net.
The game soon settled into the tight heavyweight battle that many were expecting. Both sides fought to control the game, with plenty of good ball movement and strong defending.
Both teams managed to create a few half-chances, but it was the Knights who had the game’s next big opportunity. Tomislav Uskok played a wonderful through ball to put Gian Albano through one-on-one, but Chris Oldfield made a fantastic save to deny the Knights an equaliser.
The huge stop swung momentum back Avondale’s way as the home side looked to up the pressure before the break, and for one Knights player it proved to be too much. Uskok was shown two yellow cards in four minutes, reducing the visitors to 10 men just before the half.
Despite being down a man, it was the Knights who came out of the sheds firing in the second half and they soon had an equaliser to show for their efforts.
Hamish Watson’s little flick on put Albano through one-on-one with Oldfield again, with the striker making no mistake this time as he slotted the ball into the ball into the bottom corner to tie things up.
But it didn’t take long for Avondale to answer right back. Valentini’s slick pass found Yitay Towns in the box and he was brought down from behind by a clumsy challenge. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Boland stepped up to slot the penalty home, scoring his ninth goal of the season and restoring Avondale’s lead.
Having re-established their lead the Avengers soon began to take control of the game, but they struggled to make the Knights pay on the scoreboard.
Boland, Yusuf Ahmed and Tasuku Sekiya all had excellent chances to increase the lead, but excellent defending and good goalkeeping from Melbourne kept Avondale at bay. Three shots were blocked on the line by Knights defenders, including an effort from another indirect free kick.
The Azuri soon began to rue their inability to tack onto the lead as the Knights pushed hard late for an equaliser. There were a few nervous moments, but Avondale’s defence once again held firm, securing a vital three points.
The win is Avondale’s seventh in a row and increases their lead on top of the table to five points. The loss means the Knights drop to six points behind Avondale and fall to third place on the table, behind Bentleigh.
Avondale will look to continue their perfect start to the season next Saturday night when they take on Hume City away at ABD Stadium.
Article by Bransen Gibson