Altona City thrived as hunters in the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 2, but now it is their turn with a target on their back.
Having risen to the top of the ladder, City is no longer being taken lightly, with all clubs wanting to knock the top side off their perch.
City saw just how tough life can be at the top against Westvale away at McKechnie Reserve on Saturday.
Sure, City came away with a 2-0 win, but it was a struggle for supremacy most of the way.
“It was a hard game today,” City president Joe Tanti said. “The boys really had to put in to get the win.”
In the first 45 minutes, Altona City had not produced the kind of play that saw them move into first place.
City coach Andy O’Dell told his team in no uncertain terms what he thought of the performance to that point in the game.
“Andy gave them a stern talking to at half-time,” Tanti said. “A few of our boys weren’t happy with the way they were playing anyway.”
Altona City came out after the break and changed the momentum of the game with two goals in 10 minutes.
It would come as no shock that Marcus Sherif was on hand to finish off some nice City moves for a double.
Sherif has scored eight goals in nine league appearances, including four in the past three games.
“He’s an absolute star,” Tanti said. “I love that he was an Altona City junior, it makes it more enjoyable for me to see him putting goals away.”
It was the energy of Altona City captain Matthew Gray that changed the complexion of the game.
Gray was angry with his team’s performance at half-time and took his frustrations out on Westvale in the second half.
“He was like a man possessed in the second half,” Tanti said.
“He came out of the rooms first before anyone and was raring to go.
“As soon as he got the ball, he created two or three chances and Marcus put two of them away.”
Altona City’s success has been built on its defence. The tight back of James Neighbour, Hayden Beasley and Kieren Farrugia kept a clean sheet for a fourth time in five games.
Altona City remains two points clear on top of the ladder ahead of Saturday night’s showdown with Hume United at Kim Reserve.
In state league 1, Altona Magic’s grip over top spot weakened considerably after drawing 1-1 with Keilor Park. The Magic’s lead at the top has been slashed to three points after it blew out to six only three weeks ago.
Yarraville Glory celebrated a 2-0 win over Altona East Phoenix, courtesy of goals to Reuben Agyei Danso and Keith Burch.
The Glory moved up to 10th, leap-frogging the Phoenix in the standings.
Bosin Gorcevski scored the match-winner for Williamstown, who climbed up to second in state league 3 after pipping Melbourne City 1-0 at Edwards Reserve.