Avondale’s perfect start to the season has come to an end after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Hume City at ABD Stadium on Saturday night.

The away side entered the fixture having won all of their previous seven games to start the season, but despite having the lead early and ending the game with a man advantage, Avondale couldn’t keep the streak alive.

The Avengers got off to a bright start building possession early, with some lovely link up play from Tasuku Sekiya and Stefan Zinni creating threatening moments, with good passes into attacking areas.

But City were resilient in defence and looked dangerous themselves, creating a number of chances on the counter attack.

Despite the open and free-flowing start to the game, Hume looked most threatening from set pieces. The home side had multiple free kicks in their attacking third and asked questions of the Avondale defence as they whipped balls into the mixer.

Iit was one of those free kicks that lead to the first big chance of the game. A cross was floated to the back post, with keeper Chris Oldfield making a great reaction save to keep out Paul Wilson’s headed effort.

After the chance Avondale soon settled and started to retake control of the game, looking to attack quickly using their speed on the break and down the wings, and their attacking efforts soon paid off.

Zinni chased down a ball before floating in a dangerous cross, Liam Boland rose to meet it but was infringed on as he tried to do so, with the referee awarding a penalty for the foul. Boland – who is yet to miss a spot kick this year – then sent the keeper the wrong way as he netted his 10th goal of the season and gave Avondale the lead.

But Hume almost answered right back, coming within inches of levelling the score just minutes after falling behind. Matthew Lazarides’ superb curling shot from just outside the box left Oldfield rooted to the spot, but glanced off the outside of the post for a goal kick.

It was then Avondale’s turn to feeling the pain of hitting the post, a bouncing ball landed at Boland’s feet but the big man’s volley bashed into the right-hand upright before being cleared away by a thankful Hume defender.

Next it was Hume keeper Michael Weier’s turn to deny Avondale a second goal, the City shot stopper got his fingertips to a powerful strike from Yitay Towns, who was left to wonder how his shot hadn’t doubled the lead.

After being turned away by the post and the keeper, Scott Hilliar’s header finally found the back of the net, only for it too to be denied after the linesman raised his flag for offside.

Despite having most of the chances it was the Avengers who very nearly found themselves trailing going into halftime, with Oldfield making another superb reaction save to keep out a close-range volley and preserve the one-goal lead.

After the break it was Hume who came out with the attacking intent. The home side looked invigorated and determined to get their equaliser, and soon enough their efforts paid off after a dreadful mix up at the back gifted City a goal.

A dangerous through ball brought Oldfield off his line, Hilliar looked set to clear the danger before slipping at the vital moment, knocking the ball away from the on-rushing Oldfield and into the path of Hume’s Theo Markelis who simply rolled the ball into an empty net.

Even though the goal was the result of an Avondale mistake, Hume and been building pressure and it had felt like an equaliser was on the way. But the home side didn’t stop there, they kept pushing to take the lead, creating the better chances to start the second half.

Avondale were still yet to trail at any stage this season and it was Oldfield who came up with a save-of-the-year contender to ensure that run continued. A lovely backheel finish looked destined to find the back of the net, but Oldfield’s diving stop at full extension remarkably kept the scores level.

The unbelievable stop provided the Avengers with the spark they needed to ignite their second half, and they soon worked their way back into control of the game. But despite looking threatening, the visitors found it difficult to generate chances, struggling to get quality shots on goal.

The pressure was certainly building on Hume and soon they found themselves under even more strain after captain Harry Monaghan was given his marching orders after being shown a second yellow card.

Avondale almost immediately capitalised on the man advantage from the ensuing free kick, Boland got a good-looking header on target but it was pushed wide by a diving Weier.

The Azuri were heaping the pressure on Hume’s defence as they pushed hard for their eighth-straight win, but the chances simply weren’t falling their way. Sekiya had one last golden opportunity to clinch all three points in stoppage time – a neat flick from Boland put him through on goal but Japanese international couldn’t get his shot from near the six yard box on target, as the winner went begging past the post.

Avondale will feel unlucky not to claim the win after failing to take a number of chances. But despite seeing their winning streak come to an end, Avondale increased their lead on top of the table after second-placed Bentleigh and the third-placed Knights both lost. Those results mean Heidelberg have now climbed into second place, sitting six points behind Avondale.

The Avengers will look to bounce back and return to their winning ways next weekend when they take on the Dandenong Thunder at 3:15pm on Saturday at Avenger park.

Article by Bransen Gibson

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