Avondale have secured a vital three points after claiming a hugely important 3-0 win over Hume City at Avenger Park on Saturday.
An early strike for Tasuku Sekiya and a second-half brace from Liam Boland powered the Avengers past Hume, while goalkeeper Chris Oldfield kept his sixth clean sheet of the season.
The result comes at a crucial time for Avondale after suffering back-to-back defeats at the hands of Green Gully and the Melbourne Knights, keeping them five points clear of Bentleigh and seven points ahead of Heidelberg, who have two games in hand.
The game got off to a fast start with Hume creating the game’s first chance within the opening minute, but Steven Hewitt’s volley went straight at Avondale gloveman Chris Oldfield
Meanwhile down the other end, Sekiya also had an early chance to give his side the early lead. The Japanese international left defenders in his wake as he dribbled inside the box before his shot was just tipped wide of the post.
Avondale kept up the pressure and soon had another golden opportunity to take the lead. Boland looked certain score after the ball found its way to him at the top of the six yard box but his close-range shot was somehow kept out by Hume keeper Michael Weier.
However, the Avengers did not have to wait much longer to finally take the lead. A costly turnover from Hume in midfield allowed Sekiya play a lovely through ball to Stefan Zinni who’s curling shot was well saved, but Sekiya was in the perfect spot to collect the rebound and tap the ball home for his sixth goal of the season.
The goal gave Avondale a well-deserved lead while a strong defensive performance helped limit Hume’s chances and ensured the Azzurri held onto their advantage heading into half time.
The break did little to slow down the home side’s momentum however, as they continued their push for more goals early in the second half. James Riccobene tried his luck from long range but his shot was comfortably saved by Weier.
A second goal for Avondale felt imminent and Boland soon made it a certainty. Dillion Jakupi went on a tearing run down the far touchline before whipping in a superb cross that skipped through and found an unmarked Boland at the back post, who then calmly tapped the ball home.
Golden Boot leader Boland then netted his second goal only three minutes later, getting on the end of a long ball forward from Matthew Reid before deftly chipping the keeper for his league-high 20th goal of the season.
The third goal all but clinched the result for Avondale, with Hume struggling to create chances to mount a comeback.
The win comes at a crucial time for Avondale, re-solidifying their lead on top of the table.
With five games left to go this season the Avengers are currently five points ahead of Bentleigh, but could see their seven-point lead over Heidelberg shrink to just one point if the ‘Bergers win their two games in hand.
Avondale, Bentleigh and Heidelberg will all face each other in the last five-game stretch, ensuring a dramatic finish to the season.
Avondale will be looking to claim their second win in a row when they take on Dandenong Thunder at 7:00pm on Saturday July 22 at Dacland Stadium.
By Bransen Gibson