MATCH REPORT | Errors cost Royals on tough day at Brimbank
Brimbank Stallions 2 (Le Page 3’, Tagaki 80’) Essendon Royals 1 (McEvoy 90’)
The Essendon Royals just could not make their possession count in terrible conditions at Club Italia on Saturday.
The Royals succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the in-form Brimbank Stallions, who picked up their third straight win.
Michael Ferrante, Davey Van’t Schip and Luca Santilli all made their debuts for the Royals in the game, with all three named in the starting line-up.
The trio of signings from Pascoe Vale FC regularly demonstrated their quality, but in the end, it wasn’t enough for Vaughan Coveny’s team.
The day got off to a terrible start with the Royals conceding inside the opening three minutes.
Andrew Le Page found himself unmarked at the back post after a regulation cross proved trickier to deal with than initially thought thanks to the swirling wind which wreaked havoc with the high ball.
The Royals defence was unable to deal with the movement of the ball and it eventually found its way to Le Page at the back post for the simplest of tap-ins.
Despite the early set-back, the Royals soon found their rhythm and began to dominate the proceedings.
Perhaps content with the early lead, Brimbank retreated into its own half and seemed happy to allow the Royals to play from the back, pressing as the Royals moved towards the final third of the ground.
Ferrante controlled the tempo from the base of midfield, while Gaku Matsuda impressed yet again with his all-action performance, creating great angles for his team-mates with some lovely one-two passing moves.
Up top, Van’t Schip showed his class with a number of nice touches.
Unfortunately for the Royals, for all their possession, they struggled to create much of note in the final third, thanks in part to an expertly marshalled Brimbank defence.
The Royals did have plenty of set-piece opportunities but struggled to make them count.
As the first half drew to a close, the Royals upped the ante, forcing Brimbank goalkeeper Gian Tapia into a number of smart saves and interceptions, but were left with no reward for their work.
The conditions worsened as the second half commenced.
Liam O’Connell was forced off at half-time with what looked like a serious arm injury before Graham Kelly was forced off with a broken nose five minutes later.
Phil Lloyd and Tedros Yabio deputised for both respectively.
Brimbank came out the stronger team at the start of the second half, with the Royals not helped by the incessant downpour and forced changes to their team.
As the game developed, Royals wrestled back an element of control, but still could not penetrate the tough Brimbank defence.
Needing to get a goal back, Coveny gambled on throwing Joel Nikolic up front and withdrawing Andrew Miano from the defence.
The gamble didn’t pay dividends, however, with more poor defending costing the Royals another goal, as Brimbank substitute, Rinn Takagi pounced on an error to score the Stallions’ second after 80 minutes.
The Royals pushed hard to get themselves back into the game but had to wait until the 90th minute to find a goal, which came through a Ryan McEvoy free-kick following a mistake from the Brimbank goalkeeper.
Coveny said he was happy with the majority of the overall performance but rued the defensive errors.
“When you concede in the first five minutes, you make it hard,” he said.
“We put ourselves in a difficult position and in a position where we had to chase the game in terrible conditions.
“In saying that, I thought we had a lot of the ball and we probably dominated the first half in terms of possession, but we didn’t capitalise on that.
“Our delivery into the box wasn’t good enough. Still, on the balance of play, I’m not sure we deserved to be losing at half-time.
“But we were and that meant the second half against the wind was going to be tough.
“They didn’t force Andre [Jannesse] into too many saves, and we tried to take it to them, but more errors at the back allow them in to score and put us out of a game we feel we probably should have got something from.”
Despite the result, Coveny was happy to see the players continuing to work hard.
“We’ve only had one session with the new boys, so hopefully they get better with time, and the effort is there,” he said.
“I can’t really fault that. It’s just silly mistakes which cost us yet again.
“It’s been like that all year, so now we have to pick ourselves up and go again against Preston on Friday night.”