Altona City could have opened up a handy three-point gap at the top of the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 2 ladder, but it was gone with the wind on Saturday.
City had to settle for a frustrating nil-all draw with second-placed Hoppers Crossing in the western derby on a day when it was nigh on impossible for players to negotiate the windy conditions at Grange Reserve.
City president Joe Tanti said his side had the lion’s share of possession and scoring chances, but no matter how hard they tried, they could not put the ball in the back of the net.
“We’re not overly happy with the result,” Tanti said.
“We probably felt that we had the majority of the chances, but just couldn’t convert.
“Their keeper [Kieron Sharratt] had a blinder of a game. He kept them in it in the end.”
Altona City had the wind at its back in the first half and piled on the pressure.
City’s impatience would be their undoing though, as they were lulled into playing long balls and taking long-range shots instead of their usual build up play. Too often the ball would float over Sharratt’s head, or be parried away by Sharratt on those instances when they worked the ball into the penalty box.
More structured play against the wind in the second half meant City posed a threat, even if it wound up counting for nought.
“Against the wind, we did well, we kept the ball down and played some good football and created a few chances for ourselves,” Tanti said.
“Especially with that kind of wind, it wasn’t your average wind, it was over the top.
“But the second half we were, in my eyes, the better team.”
Sefgi Murat and Ayodeji Omoboye were Altona City’s most dangerous attackers. Murat, in particular, was always presenting and looking to create for his teammates.
James Neighbour was rock solid at the back, while David Taylor was arguably the best player on the ground. Taylor, who played in the midfield, produced his best game for City.
“He’s box to box, he gets stuck in with hard tackles, he’s good with his head,” Tanti said.
“I think he would’ve had a headache by the end of the game with the ball being played up in the air so often.”
Altona City remains on top on goal difference from Hoppers Crossing and City will host fifth-placed Fitzroy City in a hugely important game at Kim Reserve on Saturday night.
In state league 1, all it took for Altona Magic was one goal, a superb free kick from Jon McShane, to beat Westgate 1-0 at Paisley Park Soccer Complex on Saturday evening.
It was a tough weekend for Altona East Phoenix, losing 4-0 to North Sunshine Eagles. The Phoenix face a struggle to climb out of the relegation zone and must obtain some points – ideally the maximum – against mid-table Western Suburbs at Paisley Park on Saturday.
In state league 3, Melbourne City had to endure a nightmare, going down 15-1 to FC Strathmore at Strathnaver Reserve. The South Kingsville-based City has just one point and a -76 goal difference in their promotion season.