SATURDAY’S Grand Final could well be decided by a moment or two of individual brilliance.
In the two lead-up finals that have featured Aberfeldie this September, we’ve seen some of the EDFL’s biggest names rise to the occasion and deliver for their side when it mattered most.
Eleven days ago in the Qualifying Final between these two clubs, Aberfeldie looked to be in control with a commanding 22-point buffer early in the final term.
Keilor had use of the scoring end, however, and the Blues certainly made the most of it.
Jayden Foster’s goal at the two-minute mark was Aberfeldie’s final score of the game, as Keilor then took control at a soggy Windy Hill.
In a low-scoring game, Reynolds Medal favourite, Kane Barbuto, kicked two of Keilor’s four unanswered goals that saw the Blues re-gain the lead and earn direct passage through to Saturday’s decider.
It was another example of how Keilor can hurt you with quick goals in a short amount of time.
Earlier in the game, Aberfeldie’s vaunted back six struggled to contain Matthew Clark, who booted three consecutive goals to start the second quarter.
While it was close and hard-fought, the Qualifying Final was a game of momentum and when Keilor had it, led by Barbuto and Clark, Aberfeldie couldn’t stop it.
In Sunday’s Preliminary Final, Strathmore’s Athan Tsialtas caught fire late in the final term and booted three goals within four minutes to put his side nine points in front.
Time was still on Aberfeldie’s side, but the premiers needed a Tsialtas-like effort inside their own forward 50.
Foster was the one who answered the call, kicking the game’s final two goals to keep Aberfeldie’s quest for a ‘three-peat’ of premierships alive.
If Saturday’s game is on the line come the final quarter, someone will have to make a hero of themselves, and both sides have numerous players who could step up.
Dean Galea, seen by many as the EDFL’s best forward, was held goalless by Ryan Allan a fortnight ago and will be better for the week off having dealt with hamstring issues in the lead-up.
Clark has kicked seven goals in Keilor’s last two games against Aberfeldie and will look to again outwork Jacob Craven.
Barbuto and Dylan Joyce can both hit the scoreboard on a regular basis and Todd Stevenson could influence the game from any part of the ground, having kicked 17 goals from 12 appearances this season.
For Aberfeldie, Foster and Josh Pound are proven finals performers and both have found form, in trying conditions for forwards, at the right time of year.
Through the middle, the likes of Sam Cattapan and Jean-Luc Velissaris are constant scoring threats while the experienced trio of Luke Blackwell, Josh Cubillo and Jaryd Cachia will all look to stretch Keilor’s midfield brigade throughout the day.
Blackwell is a proven performer on this stage, having claimed the Reg Rose Medal in both of Aberfeldie’s Grand Final victories in 2017 and 2018.
The coaching battle is a fascinating one as well.
Adam Potter is gunning for his fourth flag since joining Aberfeldie in 2015 and a win here would see his club become only the fifth in EDFL history to claim three consecutive premierships in the 89-year history of A-Grade/Premier Division – a feat last achieved by Keilor in the mid-1990s.
His counterpart, Mick McGuane, took Keilor to the top of the mountain in 2008 and 2016 and on Saturday is looking to steer his Blues to a perfect season – something Potter already has done with Aberfeldie (2015).
Both are already all-time EDFL coaching greats, but Saturday’s result could decide whose legacy is greater.
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ANIMAL ACCESS RESTRICTIONS
No animals will be permitted into any finals venues, except for accredited-assistance animals.
MATCH FILMING & PHOTOGRAPHY
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