Avondale have suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Green Gully on Saturday, missing a golden opportunity to extend their lead on top of the table
A costly turnover late in the game proved to be the undoing for the Avengers, allowing Gully striker Alex Salmon through on goal to net the winner for the away side in the 92nd minute.
The agonising defeat is only Avondale’s second loss in the league this season, but sees them waste an opportunity to take a commanding lead in the title race.
A win would have seen the Azzurri grow their lead over second-placed Bentleigh to eight points, but instead they remain within touching distance of the Greens and third-placed Heidelberg, with the Bergers having a game in hand.
Despite the poor weather things were looking good for Avondale early when Liam Boland gave his side an early lead. The big man unleashed a couple of dazzling step overs before beautifully curling his shot into the bottom corner.
But his marvellous strike was cancelled out by Gully’s Andy Brennan just moments before half time, Salmon’s superb pass putting Brennan through on goal before he neatly tucked his shot past Avondale gloveman Chris Oldfield.
After the break, Tasuku Sekiya came close to restoring his side’s lead, but his dipping free kick couldn’t quite squeeze in under the bar.
Each side then came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock as they both saw shots hit the woodwork.
A lovely cross found Boland in space inside the area and he was able to toe-poke a shot goalward, but after slowly creeping towards the line it hit the post and rolled harmlessly out for a goal kick. Down the other end Salmon did well to get onto the end of a dangerous cross but his sliding effort too could only find the woodwork.
As the rain hammered down and the game moved into stoppage time it was the Avengers who looked more likely to snatch a late winner, but a costly turnover soon saw them caught out on the counter attack.
A poor pass from Joey Katebian went straight to the feet of Salmon before a neat one-two put him through on goal. The Englishman skipped past a last-ditch challenge from defender Matthew Reid before tucking his shot past an onrushing Oldfield to snatch the win for Gully.
The win is Gully’s first over Avondale since 2017, and helps the Cavaliers solidify their spot in the top six. Meanwhile the Avengers will be left to rue their missed chance to jump three games clear on top of the ladder.
A goal each to Boland and Salmon means the two remain tied for the league’s golden boot award, with both strikers netting 18 goals in the campaign so far.
Avondale will be looking to bounce back this Friday night when they take on the Melbourne Knights at Knights stadium at 7:45 pm.
By Bransen Gibson