MATCH REPORT | Essendon Royals score commanding win against Whittlesea United
The Essendon Royals got back to winning ways in dominant fashion with a 4-0 win over Whittlesea United SC on Saturday.
Graham Kelly and Joel Nikolic scored two goals each to secure a much-needed win for the Royals, snapping a four-game losing streak in the process.
While the results have not necessarily shown it, the Royals have shown in glimpses that this sort of performance was on the cards, but have been hampered by poor starts or lapses in concentration.
But there were no such slip-ups at JH Allen Reserve today as the Royals put in a complete performance, keeping a clean sheet and taking their chances at the other end.
Kelly opened the scoring after just 25 minutes, with his second world-class goal in as many weeks, finding the back of the net from 30 yards.
Nikolic made it 2-0 late in the half with a header from close range to give Essendon a solid lead heading into half-time.
By the time the game ended, the Royals would double that lead.
Nikolic scored again in the first minute of the second half to make it 3-0, allowing the Royals to see out the game comfortably.
Gaku Matsuda and Michael Ferrante ran the show from the middle of the park, while the back four of Sammy Logozzo, Dale Thompson, Cameron Davies and Liam O’Connell provided great coverage for Andre Jannesse in goals.
Before the game was over, Kelly scored his second of the game direct from a corner to seal the win and another memorable performance from the Royals talisman.
Senior coach Vaughan Coveny said the win was a relief after some tough weeks on the track, but was delighted to see his players carry the intensity from last week’s second half agianst Preston into the full 90 minutes this week.
“It was a really good team performance today, right from the start we set the tone and we just played with a good intensity,” he said.
“Even against the wind in the first half, we applied a lot of pressure and that was crucial to a lot of the goals we scored.
“We spoke about last week and how good the second half was but that we needed to bring that for 90 minutes. Today, we brought that intensity to the full game with our pressure and our ball movement and ball speed and that was great to see.”
Coveny was especially happy to see the team keep a clean sheet and was full of praise for Davies in particular who came back into the first team and stood out as one of the better players on the pitch.
While it was relatively plain sailing for the seniors, the reserves pulled off an incredible comeback.
Zander Eshak proved the hero for the Royals, scoring in the 91st minute to win the game 3-2 for Essendon.
The Royals had found themselves 2-0 down at half-time battling against a fierce wind but used the wind to their advantage in the second half to score three goals in a thrilling game of football.
Luca Winton got the Royals back into the game in the 70th minute from the penalty spot, with Anthony Orlando equalising eight minutes later.
But the Royals had to wait until the 91st minute for their winner and it was Eshak that obliged, sending the Essendon faithful into delirium to secure a much-needed three points.