STRATHMORE v MARIBYRNONG PARK
Saturday 2:15pm at Lebanon Reserve
THE chances are very slim, but Maribyrnong Park is not yet out of finals contention.
Dean Laidley’s men stayed with a more experienced Pascoe Vale for three quarters before running out of gas at Monk Oval last week, and there were plenty of positives to take out of it.
James Breust is only eighth on the Strathmore Community Bank Premier Division goal kicking table, but his ability to slot goals from anywhere inside forward 50 is highly rated across the division.
It was on full display last week, kicking four, while the support acts of George Abboud and Jock Cornell (two apiece) served as another reminder to not take Maribyrnong Park’s finishing prowess lightly.
The Lions will look to their abundance of size to get a key advantage over Strathmore, who likes to run-and-carry a little more.
The Mores made light work of an undermanned Avondale Heights last week in a game from which little can be gleaned.
Under 19-eligible Daniel Mammoliti announced himself as another key marking option inside 50 with a personal-best six-goal haul while Shane Foulds continued to prove his worth as a tough, small forward with two majors.
Andrew Vavra, Adam Iacobucci and Andrew Horne should give Strathmore an edge in midfield but its up to the forward line to make it count.
Back in Round 6 only one point separated these two sides and with plenty on the line for both, this shapes as another cracker.
ESSENDON DOUTTA STARS v AVONDALE HEIGHTS
Saturday 2:15pm at Nipper Jordan Oval
It has been a season of few highs for Essendon Doutta Stars and last week was a low point.
They never gave of a yelp after quarter time at Aberfeldie, going on to concede 20 goals to six to go down by 89 points.
Their depth has been exposed against the division’s better sides and with Jordan Schroder, Mitch Day and Bruno Laguda all missing, too much was left to too few against the premiers.
While Aberfeldie clearly had the better quality on the park, it was the kind of loss that would have still stung Kyle Hardingham and his men.
It’s very unlikely to happen, but Essendon Doutta Stars could still be relegated.
A win here mathematically guarantees safety, so there’s no room for mucking around.
In a Premier Division first since the player points system was introduced in 2016, Avondale Heights only fielded 21 players at the maximum points limit of 47 in last week’s heavy loss at Strathmore.
While they started well with two early goals, it quickly became apparent just how hard it is to play an entire game of footy, at this level, with one rotation less than the opposition.
The Heights only kicked one more goal after that fast start and given their circumstances, they probably did well to keep Strathmore under 100 points.
This isn’t necessarily a must-win for Avondale Heights, as a Round 17 date with Airport West looms as the game that will most likely decide who does go down to Division 1.
But it is a winnable game for Donald MacDonald’s men, especially if Douttas is undermanned for the second week running.
It’s a big week at the selection table for both sides.
ABERFELDIE v KEILOR
Saturday 2:15pm at Clifton Park
Normally this would be the showstopper that pales all other games into insignificance, but both teams have already achieved what they set out to for the home-and-away season.
With four rounds still to play, remarkably, both Keilor and Aberfeldie have already secured a top two finals berth and will meet in the second semi final for the third time in four seasons on September 7.
The winner of that game will be the home team for this year’s Strathmore Community Bank Premier Division Grand Final on September 21 at Windy Hill.
That’s the big picture look at where these teams are and because of all that, there isn’t much on the line here this weekend.
But there is one thing the Blues might be hungry for, and it’s something Aberfeldie has already done.
The Blues are still on-track to complete a perfect season, a feat Aberfeldie achieved in 2015.
It would be the jewel in the crown of Mick McGuane’s already glorious legacy if they can do it and if it does come to fruition, how would Aberfeldie feel about it?
Would it take some of the shine off what Aberfeldie did four years ago?
Would it mean more to Aberfeldie if it were the only EDFL club to have done it in this current era?
Does Keilor even care about the perfect season?
If so, then this game has plenty riding on it.
What looks like a dead rubber could actually be one of the most important home-and-away games in both clubs’ history.
PASCOE VALE v GLENROY
Saturday 2:15pm at Raeburn Reserve
After failing miserably against Strathmore in Round 13, Pascoe Vale produced a very classy response at Maribyrnong Park last week.
The Panthers were tested by a good, young team and answered the challenge with aplomb, outlasting the Lions with four goals to two in the final term to claim a 17-point win.
Their forward line had one of its better days of the season, with smalls Jordan Cellini and Josh Cauchi combining for five goals as Matthew Watson was kept to just two.
Daniel Johncock’s inclusion after two weeks away also proved quite valuable across half forward with a goal of his own.
Pascoe Vale’s overall structure, when humming, is good enough to overwhelm most opposition clubs within the division and we saw that on full display last week at Monk Oval.
But the Panthers are also the most hit-and-miss team in the EDFL and quite rarely are they a sure thing.
While it may look that way here against a severely hampered Glenroy, do not forget that when these sides first met in Round 6, the result was a draw.
That alone should fill Ross Terranova’s men with a little bit of confidence but at the same time, much water has gone under the bridge since May 25.
Last week was a huge letdown for the Roys, losing at home to Greenvale by 19 goals.
Already undermanned, they lost two more key players in ruckman Josh Ksiazek and forward Adam Winter during the game.
Relegation might seem like a longshot, but the Roys have a tricky run home, so they need to salvage something here and try to re-capture the spark that only two weeks ago helped them defeat Strathmore.
It might not be a win, but Glenroy needs to show something here before taking on the more beatable Essendon Doutta Stars at home in Round 16.
AIRPORT WEST v GREENVALE
Saturday 2:15pm at Hansen Reserve
Last week’s emphatic 114-win at Glenroy felt like it was a deliberately executed statement to remind everyone that Greenvale should still be taken very seriously in finals and premiership calculations.
Regardless of the injury woes being dealt with by its opposition, Greenvale still had to go out and get a job done, and it did so in professional fashion.
The Jets were without arguably their two best midfielders in Fort Caruso and Addam Maric but showed no signs of distress at Sewell Reserve.
Ryan Mills had a day out with seven goals while Jacob Thompson and Courtenay Dempsey booted four apiece in what was an all-around strong team performance.
Against a similar quality of opposition here, we should be expecting to see more of the same kind of output from Greenvale this weekend.
The only difference could be an increased level of resistance from a less injury-hit Airport West.
The key motivating factor for the Eagles here will be percentage, as they currently find themselves neck and neck with the division’s other 2-12 team, Avondale Heights.
They took a big hit in that department at Keilor last week, but hopefully Geoff Maddern has been able to identify some key areas for improvement ahead of another clash with a finals-calibre opponent.
Damandeep Aujla was again good last week with five goals and could find himself a spot in the Team of the Year with his current form, but he needs more of his team mates to come along for the ride.
In patches we’ve seen Airport West go with far superior teams.
Here, those patches need to turn into full quarters.