Avondale have been forced to stomach the bitter taste of defeat for the first time this season after falling to Bentleigh Greens 2-1 at Avenger Park on Saturday.
Two second-half goals were enough to lift Bentleigh to victory, snapping the Avengers’ club record 14-game unbeaten run.
The game got off to a fast start, with plenty of attacking play from both teams. But despite the intent, genuine scoring chances proved hard to come by.
Bentleigh were looking dangerous from set pieces while Avondale looking threatening out wide and on the break, but both sides struggled to to get a clear sight on goal.
The best chance of the first half fell Avondale’s way. Joey Katebian’s shot on a counter attack was well saved by Bentleigh keeper Ryan Scott, and Stefan Zinni’s follow-up effort was saved again by the Greens’ gloveman.
The Azzurri were almost made to pay for the missed opportunity – only minutes later Bentleigh had a great chance from a dangerous cross but the volley was straight at Chris Oldfield.
The sides went to the sheds tied at 0-0 but as the second half got underway fans didn’t have to wait long for the game’s first goal.
The Greens had been looking dangerous from set pieces all day, and finally got their reward when Marco Jankovic headed the ball home from a corner.
The goal saw Avondale trail in a game for the first time this season after over 1,300 minutes of football, and the Avengers responded with renewed attacking vigour.
The Azzurri soon thought they’d found an equaliser when Brandon Lundy slotted a ball past the keeper, only for their celebrations cut short by the raised flag of the linesman.
An equaliser wasn’t too far away however, Yitay Towns brought the home side level after his looping header soared over a helpless Bentleigh keeper and dropped perfectly to find the bak of the net.
All the momentum seemed to now be with Avondale and it felt as if the Azzurri would go on to find a winner. But any plans of a comeback victory were soon put on hold when Bentleigh retook the lead only two minutes later.
Some sloppy defending allowed Greens players plenty of space in the box and an unmarked Matthew Thurtell was able to tap a rolling ball into the back of the net.
The attacking play continued and both sides had chances to score again, but neither team could find that final bit of quality to put the ball home again.
The loss for Avondale comes at the end of a difficult stretch of games, having played fellow top sides Heidelberg and Altona – as well as Preston Lions in the FFA Cup – before having to face off against the Greens
The results sees Bentleigh cut Avondale’s lead on top of the table down to four points, while a loss for Heidelberg to South Melbourne saw the Greens jump ahead of the ‘Bergers into second spot.
Avondale will be hoping to return to the winner’s list this weekend when they face off against 13th-placed Dandenong City at Avenger Park on Saturday.