MATCH REPORT | Essendon Royals left frustrated by organised Keilor Park at Cross Keys Reserve
The Essendon Royals were left frustrated by the goalposts and the goalkeeper as Keilor Park SC held them to a 1-1 draw at Cross Keys Reserve on Saturday.
The Royals enjoyed a one-man advantage for more than a half of football but were constantly denied by Keilor's in-form keeper, Frano Saric.
While the performance itself was good for most of the game, the Royals will be disappointed with the final result and will perhaps feel they should have created even more goalscoring opportunities given the advantage they had.
The Royals started the half well with Michael Ferrante and Gaku Matsuda running the show from the middle of the park, with Graham Kelly looking to provide the midfield drive into attacking areas.
Some nice passages of play down the right between Sammy Logazzo and Tedros Yabio showed signs of promise, while the returning Davey Van't Schip was a menace down the left, but the Royals struggled to create much in the way of meaningful chances.
Van't Schip was presented with the best chance of the half when Keilor keeper Saric mishit his clearance straight to the Royals number 90. Van't Schip still had plenty to do with a retreating defence scrambling to get in his way and did just enough to put the big man off as he slightly skewed his shot, striking the post instead of finding the back of the net.
The Royals were handed an even greater advantage when Keilor midfielder James Kemal inexplicably fouled Cameron Davies from behind and then threw the ball into his face following the awarding of a foul, earning a straight red card for his troubles.
The extra man allowed the Royals to control much of the game, with Ferrante dictating play from the base of midfield, but a packed and organised Keilor defence proved hard to break down for the remainder of the first half.
Not much changed in the second half as the Royals pushed for the go-ahead goal.
The Keilor defence pushed back wave after wave of Royals attacks as Essendon full-backs Logazzo and Liam O'Connell provided overlapping runs to try and overload the opposition defence.
The Royals managed to take the lead when Matsuda played Joel Nikolic in behind the Keilor defence.
The big forward raced to stop the ball from going out for a goal kick and tried to cut the ball back into the danger area, but Saric stuck threw himself at the ball deflecting the ball up and into team-mate Michele Grazia who unluckily deflected the ball into his own net.
With the goal in the bank, the Royals continued to push forward, but with Keilor desperate for an equaliser, they became increasingly dangerous on the break.
Football is a funny game and while by the end of the game the Royals would be denied by the post twice, the one time Keilor struck the post, the ball was deflected in.
Grazia would eventually make amends for his own goal with a superb strike at the other end which struck the post and bounced in, leaving Royals keeper Andre Jannese no chance.
The Royals pressed hard for a second goal and created some good opportunities.
Yabio was denied by Saric before Matsuda struck the post as the half wore on, before Yabio was again denied by the Keilor keeper before the final whistle blew, confirming the points would be shared.
In the reserves game, the Royals triumphed in a 6-3 thriller.
Two Keilor players were sent off as Frank Agostino scored a double adding to goals from Daniel Koutoulogenis, Gianluca Coalangeli, George Vasilakakos and Josh Tabone.