Round 16: Essendon Doutta Stars at Nipper Jordan Oval

It was an ugly win but we came for the 4 points and will take the eventual 48 point victory. But it was skill level and conversion in front of goals way below par which played a huge part in the game being such a close contest. With Essendon Doutta Stars fighting relegation, we knew they would throw everything at us to help their campaign to stay in the Premier Division. In my eyes there is no doubt that their ladder position doesn’t reflect their the capability of their side. They fought hard all day and forced us to grind out a win.

From the first bounce I knew it wasn’t just going to be a one way affair. There was a slight advantage with the breeze for Douttas and their mids came to play gaining the momentum early to give their side a kick start. Some inaccuracy in front of goals by them took some of the pressure off  and allowed us to steady the ship. Working the ball in a tricky wind to swing the momentum in our favour allowed us to finish the quarter in front and presented us with the opportunity to flatten Douttas and their confidence kicking 3 goals 5.

The wind died down in the second quarter so our slight advantage had disappeared and Douttas started with a  eight man backline to try restrict Matthew Watson. Eamon Ogden started to provide plenty of run and carry breaking the lines, but again our inaccuracy in front of goals hurt us kicking another 2 goals 4 to come in at half time 24 points up allowing Douttas to stay in the game. Our skill level was still not at the standard we ask for and the inaccuracy was really deflating the group’s confidence while giving Douttas the belief that they are still in the game. Douttas midfielder Jordan Schroder was getting on top and we were allowing too much uncontested football, so our team defence and willingness to locate the opposition had to improve.

We couldn’t afford a sluggish start with the breeze picking up again to give them an advantage and an undisciplined 50m after the first bounce gave them a little confidence. We were let of again as Douttas missed some attempts on goal but we also did all the hard work to get the ball into scoring positions a scoring position, only to let ourselves down with some very easy shots on goal missed. As deflating as it was, we managed to survive a barrage of attacks to come in at three quarter time with our noses in front.

Brad Inglis was given the task to limit Schroder’s influence and did an amazing job restricting his impact and giving us plenty in attack too. We had to finish off what was a very sloppy game and finish off strong. The forwards became busy and the midfield was on top with our team defence keeping the ball inside our attacking half for most of the final quarter. Jesse Boyd and Matthew Watson were gelling well to put the nail in the coffin. We had an opportunity to really boost our percentage with 13 shots on goal but only converting four. The highlight of the quarter was keeping Douttas scoreless and of course bringing home the four points.

While we got the result we wanted,  they made us work for it but we only have ourselves to blame. We had an opportunity to improve our percentage and bridge that gap with Marby Park and the teams inside the top four. In a season where percentage is a significant factor in us making finals having 10 goals and 21 points could prove costly.

Next week: Glenroy at Raeburn Reserve

This week we play Glenroy and have another opportunity to keep our finals hopes alive. But to do this we must play in a style that, if given the chance, will hold up in finals. Goal kicking will be at the forefront of our preparation this week alongside a huge focus on our skills and converting efficiency. It’s our last game at Raeburn Reserve the season so lets make it a great one with Panther faithful in attendance.

And while we are still in the home and away season, our senior women's team head into a Grand Final against Burnside Heights on Sunday at Windy Hill. It would be great to see a huge presence of the Panther family there to cheer the women home to victory. All the best. We hope you can finish off what has been a super season. GO PACCO!!

Essendon Doutta Stars 4.9-33 | Pascoe Vale 10.21-81

Goal Kickers: M. Watson 4, J. Boyd 3, J. Blakemore, J. Cellini, J. Polizzi
Best Players: E. Ogden, P. Bunn, C. Anderson, B. Inglis, M. Ross, M. Watson

Kyle Hardingham