Round 10: Aberfeldie at Raeburn Reserve

For both Seniors and Reserves it has been a long wait since round one to get our revenge on Aberfeldie, but that wait was well worth it! The day started off with the Reserves walking off the ground the victors. After a Round One loss by 23 goals they turned it all around to come away with a 4 goal win. It shows the huge the improvement over eight games of football and that hard work is paying off. The Seniors played a game of two halves with the final minutes again an absolute nail biter. But while in the final minutes of Round 1 our structures fell down and allowed Abers to get on top, this time round we got it right and our desire to fight our way back into the game,  get in front and then keep our composure to ground, shows we have learnt and improved immensely as a group.

In the last few games we allowed the opposition to kick the opening goals and get the momentum swinging and onto their terms. Saturday was no different with a skill error in the defensive 50 allowing Abers to swoop and kick the opener for the game.  We went into this knowing we couldn’t bomb the ball inside as their back six, especially Allen and Craven, would be waiting to counter our attack. Our decision-making going inside 50 was wasteful and it took until the 14-minute mark for Giles Guest to put our first major on the board. We were winning plenty of the ball but our inability to find a forward was hurting us and played straight into Aber’s hands. Both sides had the scoring opportunities but it was Abers who was capitalized with the score at quarter time 1.4 goal to 3.3.

We addressed the issue at quarter time with forwards needing to find that balance between engaging their defender and providing us the options when the ball came forward. We needed to be more composed with ball in hand and not just kick it back to Aber’s dangerous defenders. Like the first quarter we were winning our fair share of the ball, but again we playing wasteful footy and our method with ball movement was hurting us.  Their pressure was immense and didn’t allow us to capitalize on our entries with most going into a outnumbered forward line. The first half of this game didn’t go as planned. Abers kicked another three while the premier’s defenders holding us to just two goals for the half. There needed to be questions asked at half time: Where was it all breaking down? Where is our brand of ball movement that we know works? Why are our forwards not constantly moving and engaging? Where is our manic tackle pressure?

Before the game we touched on the need to shift the ball off the line with ball in hand and when we don’t the need to put the opposition under immense pressure. Our third and fourth quarters have been huge for us this year and again our forwards became busy and hard to play on and our mids and ruckmen started to get on top. The defenders built up the wall and while the pressure from ahead was intense, the game was now being played on our terms. You could feel the shift in belief on the field.  We used the ball much better going forward and converted our opportunities to come in at three quarter time just seven points down.

We know that our last quarters have been our best quarter throughout the year and hoped that this seven point difference would only be a small hurdle. The final quarter was an arm wrestle and with some key moments which helped us get in front. Sam Caruso had two contests where he didn’t hesitate and put his body on the line to help out the defenders, along with kicking a crucial clutch goal. With minutes to go Aberfeldie scored a goal to get back in front, with Matty Watson moments later leveling the score. Back in the centre of the ground it was the smarts of our more experienced mids in Ben and Michael Ross, Daniel Harris and ruckman Giles Guest who stood up when it was required. Michael Ross was the star of the moment after taking a ground ball and being rewarded with a free kick inside our forward 50, and as he does, with ball in hand, made the most of his opportunity and kicked the most important goal to put us six points up with minutes to go. We were in the same position in Round One but this time the result went our way, with Ben Ross keeping the game in a contest and chewing the clock. When the siren went, I can honestly say was one of the most exciting games I have been apart of. The atmosphere in the rooms after the game was amazing and you could feel just how much the day meant to all the players, officials and supporters.

Next week: Keilor at Joe Brown Oval

We must now put the Aberfeldie game in the memory bank and prepare for another tough task ahead in Keilor. Out of all our opponents this year these guys have handed us our biggest loss, last time they got the jump on us and won the ball in the contest.  We have definitely improved as a team since we last played them and we look forward to the opportunity to redeem ourselves. Training will have a focus on contested stoppage work, forwards being busy and our ball movement, when to go fast, when to go slow and that final decision going inside 50. There will of course be a focus on as well as where we fell down last week, and the last time we played them.

Thanks again to all our supporters who have made it to games, we hope to see you all down at Joe Brown Oval to help us get over the line and make it seven in a row, then back to the club for Super Draw to celebrate.   

Final Score: Pascoe Vale 12.10-82 Aberfeldie 11.10.76
Goal Kickers: M. Watson 4, G. Guest 2, L. Hansen, S. Caruso, J. Graham, B. Inglis, P. Veszpremi, M. Ross
Best Players: G. Guest