With its Australia Cup run done and dusted, the Essendon Royals now turn full attention to a Men’s State League 1 campaign, starting with Saturday’s trip to FC Clifton Hill.
The Royals are reeling from a heavy defeat last weekend to Corio SC, in a game that saw Essendon finish the first half with just nine men on the field.
It was a result which leaves Mick Ferrante’s team some 10 points off league leaders Caroline Springs George Cross and six points behind second-placed Banyule City.
It’s an arduous mountain to climb even with a game in hand – against third-placed Brimbank.
However, with plenty of games still to play this season, Ferrante will be hoping to build a positive streak of results with players returning from injuries, suspensions and other absences and no more mid-week cup games to play.
After a fantastic showing mid-week against NPLV heavyweights Avondale FC, there is little doubting how high the bar could be set for the Royals squad.
Essendon had the scores at 2-2 against the Avengers deep into the second half before two late goals sealed the Royals’ fate in the cup.
However, the performance was a much-needed improvement on Saturday’s showing against Corio despite the result.
That vein of form will need to continue against FC Clifton Hill on Saturday.
The Royals will be without top scorer Graham Kelly who serves the second and final game of his suspension, whilst Will Abbott remains under an injury cloud, having missed the midweek game.
Anthony Ramzy has been making his way back into first-team contention and made a substitute appearance last weekend, whilst Davey Van’t Schip continues to build up his match fitness with two sub appearances in the previous week.
Clifton Hill has won five points from its opening eight games, with one of those points coming in a very credible 2-2 draw against Banyule two weeks ago.
As the Royals have already learned this year with a draw and defeat against FC Strathmore and Corio, respectively, this competition has no easy games.
Jack Purdue has provided Clifton Hill’s main avenue to goal with three goals in eight league games.
In the earlier kick-off, the Royals Reserves will be looking to bounce back from their own defeat against Corio last week.
The second-placed Royals will need to find their best form once again to overcome fourth-placed Clifton Hill as they look to get back to winning ways.
Football Victoria Men’s State League 1 North-West | Round Nine
FC Clifton Hill v Essendon Royals
Saturday 14 May
Quarries Park, Ramsden St, Clifton Hill
Reserves: 1.00 PM | Seniors: 3.00 PM
AROUND THE GROUNDS
The match of the round undoubtedly sees Sydenham Park welcome Brimbank Stallions to Keilor Lodge Reserve.
The Stallions are coming off a hugely impressive 3-0 win over NPL2 outfit Moreland City in the Australia Cup and will look to continue their winning ways over a Sydenham Park side that has started to click in recent weeks.
Banyule City was the other State League 1 side to knock out NPL2 opposition in the cup this week, defeating Goulburn Valley Suns, further highlighting the quality that exists in the SL1NW division.
Banyule continues its league campaign against Whittlesea United on Sunday.
Elsewhere, league leaders Caroline Springs George Cross travel to Keilor Park, Yarravill FC host Altona City and FC Strathmore takes on Corio SC.