By Alen Delic (@alendelic)
Avondale FC has earned its first win in the PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria, defeating Northcote City 2-3 in a thriller at John Cain Memorial Reserve on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors struck first through an Aleksiy Khrapko penalty, before Evan Kounavelis equalised. Avondale went into the half with the lead courtesy of Chris Irwin.
Northcote again leveled up the score after an hour with a clinical finish from James Kalifatidis, only for Jonathan Munoz to score the winner directly from a corner.
The game kicked off at a frantic pace, with Burakhan Koca’s flick-on finding the run of Khrapko; the big striker peeled away from Northcote’s defenders and broke into the box, before he was tripped by Northcote goalkeeper Chris Theodoridis.
Ukrainian Khrapko coolly slotted his penalty into the bottom right, giving the visitors the lead 0-1.
Avondale looked more threatening from the off with its direct style of play, while Northcote took longer to settle with its short passing, and attempts at playing out from the back.
After 27 minutes, the hosts unlocked Avondale’s defence with a brilliant chipped through ball from Aaron Ward finding Evan Kounavelis on the top of the 18-yard box.
Kounavelis finished instinctively with a one-touch chip over Theodoridis.
It only took five minutes for Avondale to respond with its second.
Munoz found Irwin with a clever through ball with the outside of his foot.
Theodoridis was caught in no-man’s land, conceding his second after Irwin’s expert lob from the corner of the box, making it 1-2 for the visitors.
The sides came out more reserved in the second half, looking more settled after the frantic opening.
As the second half went on, the game began to open up.
After 64 minutes, the breakthrough came for Northcote.
A brilliant turn on the ball by Marino Gasparis gave him the space he needed to play James Kalifatidis through, before the striker finished clinically to even it up once again.
Both sides turned to direct football to find the winner, but in the end, it came from a corner.
Munoz floated a corner from the left towards the near post, only for it to sneak past Theodoridis.
Northcote almost came back at the death, courtesy of another brilliant Gasparis cross-field ball finding Kalifatidis, only for the referee to chalk it off for offside.
The disallowed goal would prove to be the saviour for the visitors, who went on to earn their first three points of the 2015 season.
Northcote City 2 (Kounavelis 28’, Kalifatidis 65’) defeated by Avondale FC 3 (Khrapko 2’, Irwin 33’, Munoz 78’) at John Cain Memorial Reserve, Thornbury
Northcote City: 22. Chris THEODORIDIS, 12. Jordan WILKES, 6. Aaron WARD (14. Anthony RAMZY 81’), 5. Gregory LOMBARDO (4. Jacob ELIOPOULOS 38’), 11. Evan KOUNAVELIS, 8. James KALIFATIDIS, 7. Jason HAYNE, 10. Marino GASPARIS, 23. Jonathan BOUNAS (20. Nick KOKOLAKIS 60’), 3. Mitch BISSINGER, 17. Nicholas BAVCAR
Unused substitutes: 15. Aminta MAKALOVSKI, 1. Mason INTERLANDI
Yellow Cards: 5. Gregory LOMBARDO 16’, 4. Jacob ELIOPOULOS 60’, 11. Evan KOUNAVELIS 76’
Red cards: None
Avondale FC: 1. Anthony SARIC, 4. Chris IRWIN, 5. Jeff FLEMING, 9. Aleksiy KHRAPKO (6. Anthony STRANO 88’), 10. Burakhan KOCA (31. Omar AMMACHE 72’), 14. Michele CRAZIA, 17. Phil RICCOBENE, 18. Jonathan MUNOZ, 19. Jason PRINCIPATO (11. Domenico MARAFIOTI 72’), 27. Julien CANNIZZARO, 28. Anthony FALLONE
Unused substitutes: 20. Frazer SIDDALL, 23. Daniel SLOVACEK
Yellow cards: 11. Aleksiy KHRAPKO 20’
Red cards: None