Altona City sent local rivals Williamstown packing from the FFA Cup after a 2-1 win in the second round at Kim Reserve on Saturday night.
An undermanned City, missing up to seven first team regulars, were in control for most of the local derby, but Williamstown, which plays in a league below, kept fighting and managed to snare a late goal for the tight finish.
“We were definitely the dominant side,” City president Joe Tanti said. “We had a lot of opportunities in the first half and just couldn’t put them away.
“Williamstown went into half-time and assessed the situation, I suppose, so they came out and put a little bit of pressure on us, but we held out well.”
Not surprisingly, Altona City’s first goal was created by the busy Marcus Sherif.
Sherif was a constant thorn in the side of the Williamstown defenders, and made an incisive run to be brought down in the penalty box.
Matthew Gray stepped up from the ensuing penalty to give City a one-nil lead after 11 minutes.
Altona City doubled its lead just eight minutes later through Sefgi Murat.
Murat’s goal created a bit of calm for City, which had bossed the game without finding that back-breaking goal.
It meant City had to endure a nervous finish after Gorgi Niceski pulled a goal back for Williamstown in the 85th minute.
But City was able to hold on in a frantic final five minutes to book their spot in the next round.
“It was a good, tough win,” Tanti said.
“Unless you’re in the same division, you don’t get to play them often, so it’s a game that builds a local rivalry, even though you’re not in the same division.
“It was a great night, there was a good crowd that came out, so it’s an exciting competition to be part of.”
James Neighbour was Altona City’s most influential player in the heart of the defence.
Neighbour had to be a leader on the park with a number of first choice defenders missing.
“With the young boys around him, he stood up and took control down there and kept sending the ball back every time,” Tanti said.
Dave Taylor made a great first impression on the Altona City fans.
The English import formed an imposing partnership in the centre of the park with Matthew Gray.
“He came from London at the start of this year and has slotted in nicely,” Tanti said.
“He’s in there with Matty Gray in the midfield and they’re working together really well.”
In Monday’s FFA Cup third round draw, Altona City came out of the pot as the home side for a second game running with Skye United to pay a visit to Kim Reserve.
Elsewhere, Yarraville Glory will be at home to Keilor Park, Altona East Phoenix will host Rosebud Heart and Altona Magic will make the trip to North City Wolves.