FC Bendigo was just minutes away from a stunning victory in Saturday night’s match against National Premier League Victoria division one championship leader Avondale Heights.
After fighting back from a one-goal deficit, FC Bendigo led 2-1 after goals by Alon Blumgart and Daniel Purdy on the Tom Flood Sports Centre pitch in Bendigo.
Avondale went into the round 14 fixture on an 11-game winning streak.
The championship leaders were a goal up after an Adam Le Page strike in the 24th minute.
Bendigo goalkeeper Sebastian Mattei was in superb touch and saved or parried many shots by Avdonale’s attack throughout the opening 45 minutes.
Mattei played a crucial role in Avondale’s lead not being greater as its midfield set up plenty of attacks.
Momentum swung dramatically in the second half.
Blumgart was on the end of a long pass and blasted the blal past Avondale ‘keeper John Scollo to level scores in the 53rd minute.
A free kick by Le Page was saved by Mattei.
FC Bendigo’s fans then had plenty to cheer about in the freezing conditions when Purdy’s lob put his team in front in the 75th minute.
Purdy pounced when chip shot by the classy Matthew Breeze was smothered by the ‘keeper .
FC Bendigo worked hard to maintain possession, but Avondale kept attacking.
A curling shot from Daniel Slovacek at 25-yards went into the net to level scores in the 82nd minute.
FC Bendigo playing coach Steve Martin said the equalising goal by
Slovacek was a great one.
“It was disappointing not to have taken all three points, but it was a terrific performance by all the boys,” Martin said.
“Avondale did a lot of the attacking in the opening 20 minutes.
“They linked up really well in midfield and near goal.
“For us to fight back from a goal down and be up by a goal was a great effort.
“There was a lot to like about the way we played, especially on how we adjusted to some changes after Avondale took the lead.”
FC Bendigo’s best, and arguably best on pitch was Sebastian Mattei.
“Seb was a standout. He made a lot of great saves,” said Martin.
“Alon Blumgart set up a lot of play in central midfield and worked really hard to be in a position to score our first goal.”
The coach also praised Matthew Breeze’s play up forward.
“Breezey is a focal point for us, and gave a lot of advice and encouragement to Daniel Purdy in our forward line.”
In June, FC Bendigo racked up three consecutive wins and then a draw.
“We have shown against the top teams that we can achieve a result. The challenge is to keep working hard in every game we play,” said Martin.
Saturday’s play in Bendigo kicked off with Avondale scoring a 3-1 victory in the under-20 match.
FC Bendigo is at home again for next Saturday night’s match against Whittlesea Rangers at the Tom Flood Sports Centre.
The senior clash kicks off at 6pm on the Barnard Street pitch.