Royals Find Scoring Boots | Banyule City SC 0 Essendon Royals 6
Banyule City SC 0
Essendon Royals SC 6 (Talajic, Freeman, Nikolic x3, Kelly)
The Essendon Royals exploded into life at Yalambie Park Reserve on Sunday as they stormed to a 6-0 win over Banyule City SC.
A second-half hat-trick from Joel Nikolic, coupled with first-half goals from Christopher Talajic and Callum Freeman, set up the win before Graham Kelly put the icing on the cake late on by putting the finishing touches on a fine team move.
A much-needed clean sheet was no less than the defence and midfield deserved, too, and delighted coach Vaughan Coveny, who last week demanded higher levels of concentration from his players.
Essendon was ruthless in transition and moved from defence to attack seamlessly as the front three of Nikolic, Kelly and Freeman broke forward with intent to cause nightmares for the Banyule defence.
The Royals did not get off to the best start, however, and a sluggish start allowed the concession of a cheap free-kick outside the area in the opening seconds.
Royals goalkeeper Andre Jannese could only watch on in hope as the well-struck Banyule free-kick struck the upright and bounced clear.
Banyule's goalkeeper made a brilliant point-blank save to deny Essendon the opener from a well-taken corner before Jannese was forced into a good save at the other end.
It took 20 minutes before the Royals really found their feet, but when they did the match quickly became one-way traffic.
As the half wore on, the Royals looked clear favourites for the opener and their reward came through Talajic who smashed home from just outside the box.
Freeman forced a cheap turnover in midfield with some impressive pressure high up the park, forcing a poor pass from his opponent. Ryan McEvoy took full advantage in midfield and started a move which culminated in Talajic's fine finish.
The Royals doubled their advantage on the knock of half-time when Freeman broke down the right wing and drew a foul in the box and made no mistake from the spot, planting the ball in the back of the net.
A clearly frustrated Banyule team could not muster up much resistance in the second half as Royals continued to dominate.
Nikolic's fine work up front was duly rewarded within minutes of the restart with a well-taken goal.
He doubled his account with a lovely curling finish from outside the box and sealed his hat-trick with a wonderful diving header after getting on the end of a lovely cross from the returning Albert Zorzanello.
Kelly sealed the win with a late goal from close-range, applying the finishing touches to another trademark Royals break.
Coach Coveny was delighted with his team's efforts and said the result was just rewards for his team's continual improvement.
"It was a good all-round professional performance from the entire team," he said.
"I don't think we stared that well but after 20 minutes I thought we got into the game and we got the goals that really lifted the confidence of the whole group and that showed.
"They played with no fear and I thought it was a good team effort."
Coveny praised his front three for their fluidity and clinical finishing.
"There was some good interchanging between them and that's been missing in recent weeks," he said.
"That front three or four were all outstanding, with the way they pressed and the way they broke forward was great."
Phil Lloyd also drew praise for his performance in his first start of the season.
"He probably hasn't had too many opportunities, but he's been training really well and he deserved to start and I thought he was excellent in the middle of the park," Coveny said.
While the goals were pleasing, Coveny was delighted to see his team keep a clean sheet at the other end.
"That was really important for us. We've worked very hard on our defensive set-up and how we want to defend and I think the back four, Andy [Miano], Cam [Davies] and even Andre [Jannese] were great.
"We needed a clean sheet because we know we have players that can hurt the opposition and score goals as we saw today but we need to stay tight at the back so that clean sheet should give everyone a lot of confidence."
The Reserves game was postponed.
The Royals travel to Sydenham next week as they look to make it two wins on the trot.