KEILOR v STRATHMORE
Saturday 2:15pm at Keilor Reserve
IT would have been a very welcome week off for Keilor.
It’s been very well documented just how hamstrung the Blues have been with injuries to key personnel and yet they somehow remain the last undefeated team in Strathmore Community Bank Premier Division.
In two games without the league’s best forward, Dean Galea and fellow quality marking presence, David Gourdis, Keilor still managed to produce three-figure scores while restricting opposition to less than 40 points.
That’s extremely formidable stuff from Mick McGuane’s men.
But the Blues haven’t faced an opposition with a winning record since the first day of June, where they just squeaked by Greenvale at Joe Brown Oval.
Here the opponent is Strathmore, a club who has improved significantly since the first meeting between these two on Good Friday.
The Mores had won five straight before pushing Aberfeldie at Mascoma Street last start.
Their form came largely off the back of solid individual contributions from the likes of Luke Jarrad and Nick O’Brien, while Andrew Vavra continues to put his name up in lights as one of the better emerging ruckmen of the competition.
Strathmore has the firepower to get the job done if Josh Helliwell, Shane Foulds and Kyle Weightman can all fire, but it’d take a brave punter to bet against these Blues right now.
MARIBYRNONG PARK v GREENVALE
Saturday 2:15pm at Maribyrnong Park
Should it be panic stations up at Greenvale after a disappointing 43-point loss on EDFL Match of the Day last week?
Given the Jets played the Panthers without the services of Jacob Thompson, Courtenay Dempsey and Fort Caruso, among others, you’d probably think not.
But the form line hasn’t been all that convincing of late, as the Jets have lost three of their last four games.
Greenvale’s percentage, which is significantly lower than those of Keilor, Aberfeldie and Pascoe Vale, is right now the only thing keeping the Jets in the top four.
Fifth-placed Strathmore is less than six per cent off the pace, so now is the time for Greenvale to make its move, but Maribyrnong Park won’t be an easy out.
The Lions are very hit and miss, but last week we saw the best of what they can bring to the table.
Brandon Ryan is finding some of his best form as a tall marking option that can kick goals from anywhere inside 50, and his four-goal effort last week was enough to see off Avondale Heights.
He’s starting to form a very dangerous tandem with the in-form James Breust and the attention those two require have allowed more freedom for Jordan Davey and Jock Cornell to hit the scoreboard.
Structurally, Maribyrnong Park is very sound and should be feeling good about this match-up, especially of Greenvale again fields an undermanned line-up.
The Jets will need to be at their very best to get the win, let alone boost their percentage.
ESSENDON DOUTTA STARS v PASCOE VALE
Saturday 2:15pm at Nipper Jordan Oval
Last week’s 12-point win at Airport West exposed both the best and worst of Essendon Doutta Stars.
When momentum is rolling their way, the Stars can cut you up through the clever ball-use of Marcus Calvaresi, Jordan Schroder and deeper forward, Mitch Day.
In the first three quarters last week, that’s what we all saw at Hansen Reserve.
But the Stars then went missing in the last, allowing Airport West back into the game with eight goals to three to make it a close contest late.
In-game consistency has dogged Kyle Hardingham and his men for much of the season.
At 4-6, finals are in Douttas’ sights but if they are to get to the post-season, then games like this are the ones they need to start winning.
Pascoe Vale itself is prone to wild swings in games and has dropped games like this in the past, so Digby Morrell will surely be running a tight ship at Raeburn Reserve in the lead-up to this one.
The way Pascoe Vale responded after a “dumb” first quarter (as Morrell described it on EDFL Radio) was first class.
Wayward kicking kept the margin from blowing out much more than it did.
Matthew Watson looked near unstoppable in marking contests and the crumbing ability of Jacob Polizzi makes Pascoe Vale’s forward line one of the most dynamic in the EDFL when there is enough ball coming in.
Whichever team is willing to bring its A-game for longer over four quarters will take the win here.
GLENROY v AVONDALE HEIGHTS
Saturday 2:15pm at Sewell Reserve
To be flatly honest, Glenroy’s playing group needs a good kick up the proverbial.
The Roys were woeful in back-to-back games against the top two and in their most recent outing against Keilor, they could only muster 4.8-32 – their lowest score since re-joining Premier Division at the start of 2018.
For us on the outside, the key thing we’re looking for from a team in its second year after gaining promotion is improvement from year one.
After 10 games last season, Glenroy was 3-7.
The Roys have gone backwards, now sitting at 1-8-1.
Ross Terranova put a heavy emphasis on defence over the summer and we have seen Glenroy’s points-against total improve from 1042 at this time last year to 912 so far this year.
Points-for, however, has plummeted from 744 to 608.
Glenroy simply can’t score and if they want to avoid being back in Division 1 in 2020, then now is the time to raise the bar.
The effort needs to be sustained for four quarters against an Avondale Heights unit that is struggling on the defensive end.
The Heights struggled to contain an admittedly dynamic Maribyrnong Park forward line last week and sorely missed Hisham Kerbatieh, Ciaran Sheehan, Scott Russell and Josh Fedele.
While they’ve lost three straight games, the Heights were woefully inaccurate in front of goal in all three of those losses, so the argument can be made that Donald McDonald’s men are executing the game plan but failing to finish.
It’ll be important to clean that up against a desperate Glenroy outfit.
ABERFELDIE v AIRPORT WEST
Saturday 2:15pm at Clifton Park
Airport West may be last on the ladder and in serious danger of becoming the EDFL’s latest ‘yoyo’, but the Eagles will take some confidence from the fact that one of their better games of the season was against the two-time reigning premier.
Back in Round 2 at Hansen Reserve, the Eagles were within two goals of the lead in the final term but couldn’t stay with Aberfeldie late and went down by 33 points.
Damandeep Aujla was their best player with two goals.
Fast-forward to last week and the Eagles were again in the game late but were ultimately left rueing a slow start.
Geoff Maddern will be hoping his side can pick up where they left off by starting well here.
Aberfeldie is undefeated at home so far this year and no one in white shorts has really come close to winning at Clifton Park since Strathmore back on the opening day of the season.
The Mores again pushed Aberfeldie two weeks ago, but the Gorillas rose to the occasion with some fresh faces in the line-up.
To have still won without Jayden Foster and Kyle Reimers inside forward 50, let alone the other exclusions of Nic Cattapan, Jean-Luc Velissaris and Jacob Craven, was ultra-impressive.
For that reason, the week off would have come at a perfect time for the premiers and you can’t help but feel they’ll simply be too classy for the Eagles here.
The key for Airport West will be to at least make it a good contest like we saw back in April.