Altona East Phoenix thriving on youth

(from FFV site)

PLACING its faith in youth and the return of experienced campaigner Terry Antoniadis has brought a dramatic upturn in the fortunes of Altona East Phoenix in the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 2 north-west.

With their “backs against the wall”, in the words of coach Paul Donnelly, the Phoenix were staring down the barrel of a relegation battle only five weeks ago.

The club threw caution to the wind, replenished itself with a younger crew, and results turned around.

The Phoenix thrashed Geelong 3-0 at the Paisley Park Soccer Complex on Saturday to move into sixth place.

They have secured 12 of a possible 15 points with four wins in their past five starts.

“It was a case of being patient with the youngsters and we’re getting the rewards now,” Donnelly said.

The Phoenix find themselves a mere eight points away from top spot and six off the second place playoff.

Still, Donnelly will not entertain a late push to the top two. “I don’t think we’re ready,” he said. “We’re really building for next season. I think one and two is pretty much tied up.”

The Phoenix have to make hay without star striker Bobby Lojanica, who to Serbia and will not return this season.

The club has brought two players into the line-up – Antoniadis, back from injury, and Ryan Sadler, from Whittlesea – to fill the void.

They scored the opening two goals before Frank Priotto rammed home the sealer.Altona East