Avondale have continued their record-breaking start to the season after claiming a hard-fought 3-0 win over the Altona Magic on Saturday.
The match was the first of a big four games for Avondale, and despite the end result, the encounter was a lot tighter than the scoreline suggests.
Altona had clearly done their homework on the Avengers and came out defensively solid and well structured at the back.
Their strong defence and physical style of play proved troublesome for the league’s highest scoring team to break down, with Avondale creating few genuine scoring chances in the first half. Instead it was the Magic who looked more likely to score.
Avondale gloveman Chris Oldfield was forced to make smart save to keep out a shot that looked destined for the bottom corner. Soon after he was grateful to see a sizzling long-range effort creep over the crossbar.
After the break the chances started to come more freely. Yitay Towns came close to opening the scoring for the Azzuri, but his looping header was tipped over the bar. Still though, it was Altona who looked more likely to score first.
A wayward cross rattled the post before Oldfield was forced to make another superb reaction save from a header to keep the scores level.
The Magic seemed to have momentum on their side, but the Oldfield save helped swing the tide back Avondale’s way. Minutes later, Altona’s Lirim Elmazi was sent off after earning a second yellow card and suddenly the Magic were behind the eight ball.
The Avengers didn’t take long to capitalise on the man advantage. Only two minutes after the red card Stefan Zinni punished Altona for a sloppy clearance, pouncing on a bouncing ball and volleying it home.
After the goal it was all Avondale for the rest of the game. A superb through ball from Phillip Riccobene put Zinni through one-on-one with the keeper and he made no mistake, slotting his shot home for his second goal of the game.
But the scoring didn’t stop there. After Stefan Valentini was brought down in the box right before full time, Zinni steppe up and smashed home the spot kick to secure wrap up all three points and secure his hat trick.
The victory extends the club’s undefeated streak to 12 games, building on the club record that was broken last week.
The result is also a huge boost for the team ahead of another three crucial upcoming games. Avondale will take on Preston in the FFA Cup this Wednesday, before taking on Heidelberg on Saturday night and Bentleigh the week after that.
By Bransen Gibson