By Matt Fotia
Powelltown have put together an impressive month of football to storm into the Division Two finals, knocking off Alexandra, Kinglake, Yarra Glen and Yea in their final four games to finish in fifth position.
And there’s been no secret ingredient according to their coach James Iacono.
Powelltown missed the finals in 2018 after making the 2017 preliminary final and Iacono is counting down the days til their showdown with Gembrook-Cockatoo.
“I can wait, we got there(finals) which is the hardest part and I can’t wait,”
Powelltown were given the weekend off to relax, rather than training on their bye week, after their massive second half to the season, with some players taking the opportunity to go on a mini holiday.
“It’s been a pretty big second half to the year for us so I just told the boys, go away, refresh and recharge for the week ahead, a couple of boys even went overseas.”
Iacono himself set off to the Gembrook Sports Ground to get a firsthand glimpse of the Demons elimination final opponents, with the winner of Gembrook-Cockatoo and Yarra Glen guaranteed a place in the finals, the loser would finish sixth.
Whilst the final margin surprised him, he was impressed with the performance of Gembrook-Cockatoo, who ran out easy winners in the end.
The Brookers are one of two sides that Powelltown are yet to defeat this season, along with the minor premier Seville. Their two previous meetings with Gembrook-Cockatoo have been decided by under three goals, with Gembrook Cockatoo winning by 14 points in round four and three points in round 13.
In spite of this Iacono won’t be spending too much time on the Brookers, preferring to concentrate on what his Demons can do.
“Gembrook had their chances in the first half, but the end margin definitely surprised me because Yarra Glen are a good side,”
“The last couple of time we’ve played them (Gembrook-Cockatoo) it’s been anyone’s game, so we’re going to concentrate on ourselves,”
“If we play to the level we think we can play, that’ll get the job done,”
“It’s going to be a good game either way.”
Powelltown were faced with a near on impossible task after that round 13 loss to make the finals, needing to win all of their games to be sure of their place in finals. Their fixture had them travelling up to Rebel Park as well as hosting a strong Kinglake side and an equally desperate Yarra Glen.
Not only did they win, they won comfortably, defeating Alexandra by 14 points, Kinglake by 78 points and Yarra Glen by 51 on their way to safety inside the five.
Iacono’s message was pretty simple to his troops over that period.
“Everyone playing their role, and the boys have really embraced it,”
“The 21 players that have gone out on the park for us in the last four weeks have all been playing their best football,”
“There’s been no secret ingredient, everyone’s just playing their best footy at the right time of the year.”
The Demons head into Saturday’s elimination final with plenty of finals experience under their belt, which Iacono believes will hold them in good stead.
“I said after the Yea game, this group here have played four elimination finals together already,”
“We’re also very experienced with James Rohan, Rowan Nayna, Dean Smith and Rhys Johnson who are premiership players in the Essendon District Football League and elsewhere,”
“Hopefully that holds us in good stead.”