By Matt Fotia
Just one more week remains before the 2019 Finals Series kicks off and as anticipation builds, the action intensifies.
This weekend Yarra Glen produced one of the best halves of football ever – and just in the nick of time – we look at some forwards who are timing their run perfectly and a week is a long time in football for Wandin.
Before I kick off, lets make one thing clear. I’m not saying these guys are the best forwards in the competition – they’re pretty good ones to be fair – I’m just saying they’re five players who are peaking at the right time of the season, and look set to send their sides deep into finals.
So without further ado here’s five goal kickers who are ready to light up September.
Matthew Johnson (Beaconsfield)
The fourth placed Eagles struggled early in the season to find their best forward structure, unsure of whether to go small, tall or a little bit of both. They’ve settled it down now and Johnson is a massive part of it.
Johnson started the year well with 12 goals over four games but was sent back to the reserves to redefine his role within the side. He booted 11 goals in three games before slotting back into the senior side against Narre Warren.
He hasn’t looked back since then. He kicked six goals in a best on ground performance against the Magpies, booted three in a losing side against Wandin and has 13 goals in the past fortnight -including nine against Upwey-Tecoma – to coincide with a couple of appearances in the best.
If he keeps this up Beaconsfield will be a big sniff of top three and a slightly smaller sniff of ultimate glory.
Robert Hartfield (Mount Evelyn)
Hartfield has been key figure in the Rovers side for a number of seasons now and this year is no exception.
Despite not having a huge tally of goals in 2019 his ability in the air means the Rovers always have a viable option when moving inside forward fifty.
He started the season strongly with two bags of six, – against Emerald and Doveton – has kicked six goals in the last fortnight and was named one of the better Mount Evelyn players in this weekends tough win over Belgrave.
Like Johnson for Beaconsfield, if he gets going in finals we could see the Rovers sneak right into contention.
Max Sheppard (Doveton)
When Max Sheppard started the 2019 season he would’ve assumed his only trip to the Doveton Football Netball Club would be during the finals series.
But in the latter stages of the ‘transfer window’ the broad shouldered forward made the switch from Narre Warren to the Doves after kicking 24 goals in eight games for the Magpies reserves.
He’s had a pretty good time of it at AJ Robinson Oval with 12 goals from five games, with two four goal games – against Belgrave and Monbulk – and an impressive two goal game against Mount Evelyn, where he was named fifth best.
He provides the perfect partner for the mid sized Gascard and is an able replacement for Gach Nyoun who departed the Doves at a similar stage of the year.
Hamish McIntosh (Gembrook-Cockatoo)
Okay so this guy doesn’t need a big spiel, we know what he’s done.
Currently he’s got 17 goals from four games and in one of them he ran off injured in the early stages.
Yes if you look at his season to date the numbers he’s put up could be devalued because of the opposition, but regardless of who McIntosh plays you’d suggest he’s capable of similar feats.
The efforts of Colin Bastow in the ruck – he’s coming off three best on grounds by the way – mean the Brookers can park McIntosh in the goal square and put it on his head. A pretty handy player to get back on the eve of the biggest game of their season.
Dean Roy (Powelltown)
Roy’s season has slipped under the radar, much like the Demons, as the likes of Fairchild, O’Keefe, Rattray and Morton steal the headlights. But the Towner’s number 22 has been incredible in 2019 kicking goals in every single game he’s played to have 47 majors heading into September.
He, like his side, has hit form just when he needed too.
He’s booted 20 goals in the last four weeks, with eight against Yea in a best on ground performance, six against Yarra Glen in a game that locked in finals football, two against Kinglake and four against Alexandra.
He’s working well with James Rohan and if the pair continue to combine this well Powelltown could swan in for one of the better feel good stories in local sport.
Don’t scoff, they’ve knocked off both 2nd and 3rd and it’s their 100th year, perhaps the stars are aligning.
2. Pigging Out
Yarra Glen were expected to knock off Alexandra at home this weekend and they simply had too or they would hand over control of their finals destiny.
At halftime, just six points up over the Rebels, their minds would’ve been excused for drifting back to their earlier loss to Alexandra. They would’ve been excused for going back into their shells, such is their current form.
They’d had just one win since their bye, had conceded 170 points against Seville, had been overrun by Kinglake on their home deck and were coming off the back of big loss against Powelltown.
But no – the RiverPigs went the other way.
They came out firing in the second half and produce some inspired football. They booted 23 goals to four in the second half, outscoring the Rebels by 121 points in the process. 15 of those 23 goals came in a frantic last quarter as the RiverPigs found form.
Adam Moate booted seven, Marcus Kikidopoulos nailed three as did Ben Ashton, Austin Smith and Lachlan Telford.
All they needed to stay in control was the four points, but rather than do enough Yarra Glen decided to grab some much needed momentum on the eve of their biggest game of the year.
So kudos RiverPigs and good luck this weekend.
3. A week in Football
Ever heard the saying “A week is a long time in football’’ ?
Unsure of what it means?
Well the folks down at Clegg Road will be able to tell you.
With two minutes to go last weekend they were on the precipice of knocking off Narre Warren, holding on for dear life. Succeed and they’d more or less book their place in finals, have all of the top four scalps under their belts and would be ready to launch with more players still to come back in.
Fast forward seven days and the Dogs were desperately sending the ball forward against eighth placed Upwey-Tecoma, scrapping to claim back the lead. They’d led by 27 points at the main break with 16 scoring shots to four.
Not only were Wandin fighting for the four points, they were also fighting to keep their heads above water in terms of the finals, as across town Cranbourne were about to knock off ladder leaders Berwick, in turn completing some what of an eight point swing.
The Eagles weren’t expected to beat the Wickers. The Dogs weren’t expected to lose to the Tigers.
Wandin must now win both of their remaining games (along with their bye) to finish on 40 points.
They’ll then need Narre Warren to avoid upset against Cranbourne, Olinda Ferny Creek to repeat their earlier upset of the Eagles or failing that, Upwey-Tecoma to provide another upset on their home deck.
It’s a cruel game football, but we love it.