AVONDALE HEIGHTS v KEILOR
A MONTH ago, we were seriously considering this for EDFL Match of the Day.
But now, it seems we have a clear favourite.
Some of us were quick to dismiss Keilor as a serious Strathmore Community Bank Premier Division contender after several key players went down with injury.
The Blues’ depth has been put to the test of late, and they’ve passed with flying colours.
But it helps to have the likes of Kane Barbuto, Dean Galea, Josh Martin and Matt Clarke at your disposal.
Mick McGuane’s men have proven they’ll be just fine as they slowly re-assemble their best 22, and by banking more wins in games like this, they should be back playing finals in 2018.
Avondale Heights scored a very good win in Round 8 over West Coburg.
Unavailability has also tested Donald McDonald in his first full year in charge at Canning Street and to come away from Coburg City Oval with a 29-point win was crucial in Heights’ fight to avoid relegation.
Team selection could be telling in the lead-up, but Keilor should be feeling good about this one.
STRATHMORE v ABERFELDIE
Strathmore has quietly strung three straight wins together, albeit against bottom four sides.
The Mores are sitting at 5-3 and will be grateful to be ahead of the win-loss ledger, because their next five games are all against current top five sides – and Keilor (on Good Friday) is the only one they have managed to beat to date.
Nathan Grima’s plan to introduce the next crop of Strathmore stars has worked pretty well, but with Jaryd Cachia due back from suspension and Hamish McIntosh now back out on the park, we might start to see the Mores make their move up the ladder in the second half of the season.
Aberfeldie at Lebanon Reserve presents a tricky test here, though.
The smaller confines of Lebanon may better suit what has been an outstanding Aberfeldie defensive unit of late.
Aberfeldie has conceded no more than 12 goals in any game so far this year and was successful in shutting down Maribyrnong Park in a low-scoring slog in Round 8.
Don’t expect this to be a shoot-out.
PASCOE VALE v WEST COBURG
Expect this to be a shoot-out.
Pascoe Vale is the second highest-scoring team in Strathmore Community Bank Premier Division (behind only Keilor), and yet still finds itself outside the top four.
Since the calendar turned to May, Mathew Watson has been unstoppable in front of goal, with 26 goals from his last four games.
Jacob Polizzi and Lachie Hansen have been a fine supporting cast as the Panthers have mounted an impressive four-game winning streak.
Defensively, the back line has quietly been doing its job, too, with Luke Foster putting together another very good season.
If the back line holds true then West Coburg will struggle to keep up with the Panthers, because you know the home team will be keen for another big day up forward.
The Burgers need to be willing to take the game on through the middle and use their pace going into attack for four quarters to be a chance in this one.
MARIBYRNONG PARK v GLENROY
The Queen’s Birthday break came at a perfect time for Maribyrnong Park.
The Lions dropped consecutive games to Greenvale and Aberfeldie after a hot 6-0 start to the year – giving coach Robbie Castello a chance to assess where his team needs to lift ahead of the second half of the season.
Coming up against a battling Glenroy outfit, this might be the Lions’ chance to run themselves back into some form.
Glenroy has shown us nothing since beating Avondale Heights in Round 5 and has been non-competitive against finals contenders Aberfeldie, Keilor and Pascoe Vale.
You could make a fair argument that they’re already close to achieving what they needed to this year in avoiding relegation and with Travis Dulic, James Bennie, Aaron Kite and Tom McIntosh all to come back into the side, perhaps you can forgive the Roys for their recent form slump.
But it’s important they at least find their mojo in this one ahead of a big fortnight against West Coburg and Essendon Doutta Stats that will probably determine relegation come the end of the season.
GREENVALE v ESSENDON DOUTTA STARS
What to make of Greenvale’s 38-point Round 8 loss to Keilor?
No one really saw it coming, but the Jets were without 2017 Strathmore Community Bank Premier Division Team of the Year members Jacob Thompson and Nick Parthenopoulos, as well as powerful midfielder Nat Caruso.
Their form has been OK and they’re picking up the wins they need to ensure yet another finals berth, so we shouldn’t be too worried about Greenvale.
Paul Chapman will be looking at this week’s game as a chance to kick-start his side back into some form.
Essendon Doutta Stars is showing some signs of improvement but its coming from such a long way back that a win might still be a fair way off.
Greenvale by plenty up at Section Road.