Royals Rue Missed Chances | Keilor Park SC 2 Essendon Royals 2
Keilor Park SC 2 (Jozeljic 42', Crazia 69')
Essendon Royals 2 (Kelly 44', 63')
Essendon Royals took a valuable point from Keilor Park Recreation Reserve on Saturday but will feel it so easily could have been three.
In an even contest, the Royals and Keilor Park Soccer Club exchanged momentum and goals in a game which finished 2-2, much to new senior coach Vaughan Coveny's frustration.
Graham Kelly bagged a brace for the Royals, scoring either side of half-time, while Andre Janesse made a series of brilliant saves to ensure Essendon left the game with a point.
The Royals opened the game brightly in a tense first half, with Aaron Ward looking lively in the middle of the park.
The former Keilor Park man tried his luck from distance early on but couldn't test the keeper as both sides struggled to get full control of the game, although it was Royals who would miss the best chance of the half when Keilor's keeper pulled off a fantastic one-on-one save to deny Callum Freeman.
The match sparked to life late in the half, however, as Keilor took the lead through a well-taken finish from captain Goran Joseljic.
Kelly responded instantly for the Royals when his quickly taken free-kick just three minutes later caught the Keilor defence and keeper off-guard.
The second half proved a much more open affair with both teams looking to take the initiative but it was the Royals who enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and took a deserved lead.
Kelly was the man to find the back of the net once again with a lovely finish at the end of a beautifully timed run forward in the 63rd minute.
Essendon might have been 3-1 up had they made the most of their chances in the attacking third.
Keilor punished Essendon's inability to take its chances in the 69th minute when defender Michele Crazia scored a towering header from a cheaply conceded free-kick.
As the match closed out both teams had chances to win the game but couldn't take them.
Essendon had keeper Janesse to thank after a particularly brilliant safe from a well-hit shot on target late in the second half.
At the other end, Chris Talajic and Freeman combined brilliantly to put the former through, but he could not find the finish the move deserved.
While the Royals remain on the hunt for the first win of the season, coach Coveny was pleased with the effort of his players, even if he was frustrated by the end result.
"We were good in the first half, I thought there wasn't much in the game, but we played well," Coveny said.
"The game became a lot more open in the second half, it was a bit too open for me, but we managed to get ourselves in front and I thought maybe we tired a little bit and they got a bit tired and we gave a silly foul away and didn't defend the set-piece well enough.
"They could have snatched it, we could have snatched it, but the effort was fantastic.
"It's just little moments in the game where our decision making is letting us down and it's costing us because the teams we're playing have the quality to punish us."
Prior to the senior fixture, the reserves were beaten 4-1 in the 1 pm kick-off, with a number of key players missing.
With the scores stuck at 1-1 at half-time, the Royals had a good chance to build on their solid start to the campaign but were put to the sword by a more experienced and in-form Keilor Park.
Coach Emmet Sheehan said the performance was one of two halves.
"We missed three or four good chances in the first half and one mistake at a corner puts us one goal down," he said.
"We equalised straight away through a great move. Anthony Orlando scored a lovely finish, but we had a few chances to take the lead and we didn't.
"Keilor just upped the intensity in the second half and ran away with it."
Our senior teams head to Banyule for their next State League 1 fixtures.