MATCH REPORT | Endeavour and effort not enough for Essendon Royal
Lady luck was not shining on Essendon Royals at Ormond Park on Saturday during their 3-1 loss to Altona City SC.
Despite their best efforts, the Royals could not overcome the injuries which hampered them this week leading into the match against Altona.
Chris Talajic and Albert Zorzanello were both ruled out early in the week through injury, before goalkeeper Andre Jannesse was hit by illness in the lead up to the game.
The loss of Jannesse opened the door for 16-year-old Jude Hardy to make his senior debut for the club and while the result went against him on debut, the keeper put in a shift to be proud of.
Despite the result, senior coach Vaughan Coveny said he was happy with the application of the team and its players who worked for the full 90 minutes.
"At the end of the day we conceded from two set-pieces and a break as we tried to chase the game," he said.
"Losing Andre before the game was a loss, but I think one of the good stories from the day was the debut of Jude. Even though we conceded three, he wasn't at fault for any of the goals and I think he can be proud of his performance.
"The injuries didn't help, but I still think we put in a good shift. I was happy with the effort and the willingness to work for one another and there were definitely some positives to take from the game."
One of those positives was the contribution of Japanese midfielder Gaku Matsuda in his first start to the team.
The former Brunswick City man was composed in midfield and never shirked his defensive responsibilities.
The new singing is working hard to fight for and maintain a spot in the starting XI and his performance on Saturday will not have hurt his chances of doing that.
Despite his best efforts, the Royals found themselves 1-0 down at half-time.
The goal came from a wide free-kick from which Hardy was arguably fouled as he came to collect the ball, however the referee thought otherwise.
The Royals found themselves 3-0 down before Tom Caldwell broke through to pull one back.
"He came on and made a good contribution to the team, which I think was another positive from the day," Coveny said.
"We're disappointed with the result but I'm not sure it was a fair reflection on our performance.
"Given the injuries we had the boys played well and their keeper had to make a couple of good saves as well, maybe luck just wasn't on our side on the day.
"I'm confident if we bring that work ethic and endeavor to every training session and match, we'll pick up a few more wins before the season is out."
In the earlier kick-off, the reserves took a 2-1 win against Altona, but coach Emmet Sheehan said the win really should have been by more.
"A win's a win, but that was a more frustrating 2-1 win," he said.
"We feel it could have been more."
The Royals started the game brightly and were awarded a penalty after 7 minutes.
Luca Winton stepped up and his the spot-kick well but was denied by the post. The Royals followed up the rebound with a volley which also hit the post and rebounded into the keepers face to go out for a corner.
Thankfully, the Royals didn't have to wait long for the opening goal after a beautiful through ball from Daniel Koutoulogenis found Josh Tabone speeding through against the keeper who looked certain to win the ball first.
Tabone proved too quick, however, and got to the ball first, flicking it beyond his opponent and into the back of the net.
Altona had a penalty of its own in the 23rd minute but was denied by Liam Harper who produced a great save to ensure the Royals took a 1-0 lead into the break.
A defensive mistake after 54 minutes opened the door for Altona to equalise setting up a tense second half, but the quality of the Royals told in the end.
The Royals high press forced a turnover in defence and allowed Essendon to find Frank Agostino on the right wing.
The winger took the ball and ran at three players, beating them all before dispatching his finish low and hard across the keeper and into the far corner.
"It was a frustrating day, but we'll take the win," Sheehan said.
"We gave them a lot of chances we shouldn't have and the conditions were awful, but we got the win in the end."