It was the Joe show at Jack Edwards Reserve as the Oakleigh Cannons kicked off the new year with a big win over Avondale.
First half goals to Ryan Paczkowski and Joe Knowles gave the Cannons a healthy buffer at the break, before Gold Medallist Joe Guest sealed the club’s first opening round win in eight seasons.
A strong crowd packed into Jack Edwards Reserve to watch a feisty season opener between two sides with silverware on their mind in 2020, with the heat from the gyros matched by the intensity on the field as both teams showed plenty of fight.
Determined to rectify last year’s semi-final loss, the Cannons nearly opened the scoring inside the first two minutes when Harry White's attempt inside the six yard box was saved by the cat-like reflexes of Chris Oldfield.
Though the Avondale goalkeeper was unable to keep the Cannons out a second time as Paczkowski rolled home the opener in the seventh minute after a Guest contested header fell his way.
The match was then turned on its head when Avondale’s Stefan Zinni was sent off for a high boot on Tom Matthews, which caused some discontent among the players.
Playing with the extra man, the Cannons took full advantage as the two Joes combined to add a second.
It was Joe Guest who provided the assist for Knowles – putting in a perfect cross for the Western Australian who made no mistake from the penalty spot, heading the ball past Oldfield for Oakleigh’s second.
Knowles was showing plenty of fight in his debut for the club, while Tyson Holmes looked at home in midfield.
Former Melbourne City youth player Lucas Portelli started in the heart of defence alongside Scott Robertson and in front of Nick Feely in goals.
Despite tempers beginning to flare early in the second half, the Cannons kept their composure and before long added a third to put the game to bed.
It was Guest who sealed the win for the Cannons in the 71st minute, standing in the right place at the right time to pounce on White’s header inside the box to secure a famous win for the Cannons.
Avondale did manage to pull one back in the 83rd minute from a corner when Scott Hilliar’s flick at the front post bounced off Robertson and into the back of the net for an own goal.
Oakleigh hosts Heidelberg at Jack Edwards Reserve next Friday 21 February.
OAKLEIGH CANNONS FC 3 (Paczkowski 5’, Knowles 42’ ,Guest 70’)
AVONDALE 1 (Robertson 83’ (OG))