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NJL Match Report: Royals back on winner’s list with big win at Clifton Hill

After a tough week, Essendon Royals got back on the winner’s list, defeating FC Clifton Hill 3-0 at Quarries Park on Saturday.

The goals came through Kristian Konstantinidis, Nobu Usui and Matteo Ballan as the Royals secured what was a comfortable win in the end.

A win was really a non-negotiable for the Royals in the big to stay in the promotion race, with the teams ahead of them showing little signs of letting up in recent weeks.

Whilst there is plenty of time in the season to play, anything less than a win would have made a hard task even harder.

Thankfully, the Royals arrived at Quarries Park with real intent and put in a much-improved league performance.

After a spirited Australia Cup performance against Avondale FC, Coach Mick Ferrante made minimal changes, with Davey Van’t Schip coming back into the starting XI to replace Ziyad Eltahir and form a strike partnership with Josh Markovski.

A reshuffled defence saw KK move to full-back, with Greg Lombardo returning from suspension and teaming up with young Jake Montagnese in the heart of the defence and flanked by Mario Piraino.

Ballan and Ryan McEvoy ran the show from the middle of the park, with Usui and Luca Santilli manning the flanks.

KK scored his second league goal of the season in the 23rd minute, rising highest to meet yet another brilliant delivery from McEvoy.

The goal settled Royals’ nerves as the visiting side held their lead into the break.

When play resumed, the Royals took 14 minutes to double their lead, when Usui found the back of the net after being played through by Van’t Schip.

Ballan sealed the three points in the 83rd minute with a delightful chip to make it 3-0.

The Royals Reserves also got back to winning ways after a tough loss last week, but it was anything but easy.

Another slow start saw the Royals fall two goals behind early on.

The Royals slowly woke from their slumber and stormed back to 2-2 courtesy of goals from Marcus Medina and James Grasset.

Parity was short-lived, however, with the Royals going into the break 3-2 down.

A much-improved second half followed, with the Royals eventually taking a 4-3 win thanks to second-half goals from Grasset and Medina.