MATCH REPORT | Essendon Royals promotion chase to go down to the wire following Lara United draw

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Essendon Royals were held to a 1-1 draw in a crucial game against Lara United which means the promotion race will go down to the final game of the season.

The senior women’s team struggled to overcome a stubborn Lara United defence, despite the best efforts of the usually lethal attacking line-up.

Steph Pantazopoulos scored what could still prove a crucial goal which ensures the Royals take a one-point lead over third-placed Hume City heading into the final round of the season.

Coach Johno Clemente was disappointed with the result but praised the performance of his team which pushed hard for a winner all game.

“I have to give credit to Lara today. They defended well and matched us today, it was a deserved point from them,” he surmised. 

“I can’t fault my players today, they were heroic. They didn’t stop pressing and the result doesn’t reflect their effort levels.

“It’s a hard result to take in, but if someone said to me that we will go into the last game of the season with our promotion fate in our own hands, I would have taken that in a heartbeat.”

With Hume City winning their game against Maribyrnong Swifts 4-2, a final-day promotion showdown promises to entertain everyone involved in the State League 2 North-West women’s division.

The Royals welcome FC Clifton Hill to Cross Keys next weekend knowing that a win will secure promotion, regardless of what happens between Hume City and La Trobe University.

With the stakes so high heading into the last game of the season, Clemente encouraged all Royals members to be at Cross Keys next Sunday at 3pm to support a team which has brilliantly represented the club all season.

“A loss or draw against Clifton Hill won’t define our season, and I will always be incredibly proud of this team,” he said. 

“I urge all Royals supporters to get down on Sunday and support the girls.

“It’s a promotion grand final basically and win, lose or draw these girls deserve to have a big crowd send them off for the season they’ve had.”

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