Round 11: Keilor at Joe Brown Oval

Our two biggest losses this year have now come at the hands of Keilor.  Last Saturday’s result was disappointing result following such a high and satisfying week prior.  It was a scrappy affair and, although the end score line doesn’t reflect this, the game was up for grabs until mid way through the final quarter when the Pascoe Vale of old returned and let Keilor run away with it. The most disappointing part was the way we finished off the game. With a ladder so tight and percentage likely to play a major factor come season end, we have to address what occurred and why.

During the week we touched on the importance of this game and how getting off to a good start was  crucial. The past few weeks we have been slow out the blocks but finished strong. However, it was not the case this week.  I knew from the very first bounce there was something off with our mids - they were way too fumbly, flat footed, and slow to outnumber.  Both sides struggled to get the ball inside 50 with the defenders for both sides intercepting entries and rebounding with attack. The game was going to be won through the midfield, who was going to work the hardest between the arcs. Luke Foster, captain for the day, stood up intercepting everything that was coming in and propelling our attack forward.  We managed to come off at quarter time break with the only two goals for the quarter but each goal was very hard to come by.

In the Second quarter, Keilor, and their will to outnumber each contest, was making things extremely tough. Our ball movement and costly turnovers were putting our backs were put under the pump and resulted in Keilor kicking five goals and coming off at half time with an eight point lead.

In the first half overall, our ball movement was terrible, there was no movement and we played boring, down the line football, straight into Keilor’s hands. In contrast, they played with width and spread out to make the ground big, in turn spreading our defence and allowing them to overlap and deliver the ball inside to their forwards.  The only one positive was that,for as bad we were playing, we were only 8 points down. There was plenty of time to re-group and change the outcome of this game.

The third quarter was even with both sets of defenders having the better of their opponents. While we were getting our hands on the football, our movement forward was letting us down, and when held up we bombed it straight back to Keilor and their spare defender.  All week we trained and focussed on how we wanted to play if Keilor played a spare and we just didn’t adjust. If we can't capitalise on our hard work when going forward then we are in trouble. We have two big forwards but our ball movement inside didn’t allow for them to have any impact on the game. At three quarter time we had the game in our hands. The boys were up and about and we know we can finish strong, so it was time to stand up and do it again.

For the first 14 minutes of the final quarter, the game could have gone either way.  They kicked the first and we responded with our best passage of play for the day - a link up run and carry and a nice finish from Gav Urquhart to lift the side. Now eight points down and  with little bit of momentum, we threw Luke Foster up forward for marking power to try mix things up as the other talls were being held out of the game. A free kick on our forward flank and an undisciplined act quickly, that momentum quickly disappeared, with Keilor receiving a 100m penalty and a shot on goal from the goal square. From there the day got ugly. Our inability to locate and allow easy uncontested possession opened the floodgates and Keilor kicked six unanswered goals to march away with the victory and move to second on the ladder.

While it is disappointing, it is only one loss and I look forward to how the boys respond this week on the track. We had a great winning streak with six in a row but this was our wake up call to identify and  iron out our deficiencies. This week will we will need to rectify our ball movement and how to play out certain scenarios. We must become busier up field, provide options for our teammates when ball is in hand and improve on our efficiency when going inside 50 to place the ball to the advantage of our forwards.

Next week: Strathmore at Raeburn Reserve

I'm excited about the challenge coming up this weekend and what better team to come up against in Strathmore in a must win game. When we played them in Round 3 we needed to get our first win to get our season. This time round the tight ladder means it is an equally importance game if we are going to be in contention come September. We hope to see you all down at Raeburn Reserve on Saturday for what will be an absolute thriller.

Final Score: Keilor 13.12-90 Pascoe Vale 7.7-49

Goal Kickers: D. Harris 2, G. Guest, M. Watson, J. Polizzi, G. Urquhart, J. Boyd
Best Players: L. Foster, K. Economou, G. Guest, J. Polizzi, S. Caruso