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NJL Match Report: Royals dominate at Cross Keys with crucial win over Clifton Hill

Essendon Royals stormed to victory on Friday night, sealing an emphatic 6-0 win over first-placed FC Clifton Hill to close the gap at the top of the table.

After two tough matches against Spring Hills Stallions and Moreland Zebras, the Royals desperately needed the three points on Friday night, and they did not disappoint.

The goals flowed in the first half as the Royals built a 5-0 lead by half-time, thanks to goals from Rachel Alonso (2), Mary Hubeek, Linda Sawa and Angie Rassias.

Hubeek scored her second in the second half to seal the final result.

It was Hubeek who opened the scoring, finding the back of the net in the first minute of the game, reacting quickest to a shot from Marcela Marques that bounced off the bar and back into play to knock home the rebound.

Rassias made it 2-0 after 12 minutes, rising highest with a towering leap at a corner to head home and double the Royals’ lead.

Alonso bagged her first of the game in the 19th minute, applying the finish touches to sublime play from the Royals’ April Player of the Month Marie Rampal.

Rampal went on a trademark storming run down the right flank, before cutting back to the perfectly timed run of Alonso who dispatched the finish brilliantly.

Sawa rifled home a bullet header in the 35th minute to make it 4-0, after being found by a brilliant ball from Hubeek.

The fifth and final goal of the half came from Alonso, who delivered a stunning curling finish inside the far post after some fantastic pressing from Sawa.

Sawa pinned the Clifton Hill defence down in their own box, won possession and smartly found Alonso who produced a stunning turn and finish to deliver the 5-0 half-time scoreline.

Despite the emphatic lead, coach Vince Battiato demanded intense concentration from his team, using the full depth of his bench to rotate through his squad.

Beth Mason-Jones had to be at her best early in the second half to produce a fine save to stop a lobbed effort from inside the box, reacting quickly and rising high to claim the ball.

In the end, there would just be the one goal from the second half, supplied by Hubeek, who found the back of the net in the 79th minute.

It was a truly memorable night for the women’s program with the Reserves also picking up the points in a dominant 7-2 win in the earlier kick-off.

Hat-trick hero Kiana Kyriazis continued her incredible goalscoring form with goals in the 23rd, 60th and 72nd minutes.

She was joined on the scoresheet by Danielle Maugeri, Luna Nakada and Ivana Ovcaric.

After three consecutive home games, the Royals hit the road next week as they travel to North Geelong Warriors.