A hat-trick from striker Marcus Sherif has continued Altona City’s resurgence in the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 1.
City extended their unbeaten run to six games in a memorable 3-0 win over Sydenham Park at Keilor Lodge Reserve on Friday night.
A rare Friday night appearance for City made it a challenge for their preparation, but the experience of coach Andy O’Dell proved crucial in the lead-up to the match.
“As you can see from the result, the preparation was spot on,” City president Joe Tanti said.
“We had a light week, hit the pools on Tuesday night and a light night on Thursday night.
“Andy had them up and ready to go.”
Sherif’s big night got started early.
The youngster scored two of his three goals in the opening 20 minutes to give Altona City the foundations for victory.
A third goal was merely the cherry on the top for a player who is developing before our eyes.
“Slowly, under the guidance of Andy, he’s improving every year,” Tanti said.
“This year he’s putting in a lot more goals and starting after last year coming on off the bench.
“With every year he’s getting stronger and learning to take the knocks from the better defenders in state league 1.
“He’s definitely improving with every match.”
Altona City has picked up 12 points from its past six matches.
City has gone from a cellar dweller to mid-table in that time.
It was some shrewd recruiting from City that turned the season around – and some of it by luck.
City added steel to its defence with the signings of Nathan Cook, who returned to the club from Green Gully and immediately took over the captain’s armband from the departed Steve Thomson, James Neighbour, who returned from Mazenod Victory and Dean Faithfull, who hails from England but was playing interstate. The returns of Cook and Neighbour, two players who understand the culture of City, was massive.
“The main reason they wanted to come back is because over the years they’ve seen the amount of work that supporters put in, players, coaches and they didn’t want to see that all come undone by relegation,” Tanti said.
“With them there, I think the team has improved five-fold compared to what it was.”
Altona City will be eager to keep their charge up the ladder going when it hosts Western Suburbs on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Yarraville Glory has moved out of the state league 1 relegation zone with a 1-0 win over North Sunshine Eagles at McIvor Reserve.
Altona East Phoenix enjoyed a resounding 4-1 win over Geelong Rangers to steer further clear of the men’s state league 2 relegation zone.
Williamstown had a disappointing nil-all draw with bottom-of-the-ladder La Trobe University in men’s state league 3.
In the women’s state league 3 catch-up round, Altona City recorded a 3-1 win over Greenvale United, while Altona Magic won 2-0 over Point Cook.
In the men’s NPL 2 west, Altona Magic was merciless in its 7-1 demolition of Melbourne Victory at Epping Stadium.