By David Nagel
Even the best laid plans can sometimes go awry and a slow-starting Beaconsfield was left to rue that fact after a nine-point loss to Croydon at Croydon Oval on Saturday.
The Eagles went into the match with a clear focus on some key targets for the Blues, but a 5.2 to 1.2 first term had the home side buzzing on its way to an 8.9.57 to 6.12.48 victory.
The Eagles recovered well after quarter time, kicking five goals to three after the first break, but were forced to play catch up after lacking intensity in the initial stages of the match.
“It’s unlike us, our starts have been really good this year,” said Beaconsfield coach Mick Fogarty.
“We had no intent and lost one on ones around the ground, we were second to the footy and second to the contest.
“We went there with a plan to make sure we matched (Adrian) Ficorilli and (Matt) McKenzie, who are terrific mids for them and get some really good clearance, but we just lacked that desire and want.
“But certainly after quarter time I thought we were terrific.”
Classy left-footer Troy Broussard and talls Riley Britton and Joel Koger did the damage for the Blues in the first quarter, with Beacy’s lack of height a serious concern.
With ruckman Paddy Gerdan still out with an ankle, and back-up tall Harry Coe a late withdrawal, Fogarty and his team were forced to shuffle the deck chairs.
Key-forward Josh Smith was forced into the ruck, while gun-mid Matt Johnson was used to create a target up forward.
“As a coach I always ask the players to adjust to situations as they arise on the ground and we were exactly the same on the weekend,” Fogarty said.
“Josh (Smith) has been our most consistent forward this year, and provided a real focal point for us, but with Paddy Gerdan and Harry Coe out through injury, we had to adjust.
“To get something, you have to take away from somewhere and hopefully you cover that.
“We had to throw a few things around, but the pleasing thing is that once we got it on our terms in regards to our game, our pressure, our tackling, and our ability to play a centre-forward game, we matched them.”
Trailing by 22 points at half time, the Eagles played their best football of the match in the third quarter, with a crumbing goal from Hayden Brough at the five-minute mark proving great reward for effort.
Corey McKenzie kicked one against the run of play at the 12-minute mark, before goals to Damien Johnston and Jafar Ocaa cut the margin to just six points at three-quarter time.
The Eagles suffered an early setback, with Broussard kicking his third after just a minute of play in the final term, with both teams then engaging in arm-wrestle.
A late goal from Declan Everett gave the Eagles a glimmer of hope but the Blues held on in a tense finish.
Ocaa finished with two goals for the Eagles, while Robbie McMillan and skipper Jake Bowd did some terrific things in defence.
Whether the Eagles are a genuine finals contender or simply making up the numbers will likely be determined over the next three weeks of the season.
Home games against Upper Ferntree Gully (10th) and Mitcham (6th), are followed by a trip to Lilydale (9th) on June 4.
Fogarty answered directly when asked if the Eagles had pencilled their next three games as crucial to their destination this season.
“We have, we certainly have, and I try not to talk in clichés, with the week at a time thing pretty simplistic and obvious, but we have identified these three games as a great opportunity,” he said.
“But the opposition will also be identifying us as an opportunity as well, but we’ve got a real belief and desire that if we can tick these next three off we give ourselves a real chance, because I think fourth and fifth are up for grabs.”
The Eagles are only a game and percentage outside the top five.
A major highlight for the Eagles on the weekend was the debut performance of 16-year-old bottom-age Stingray Kade De La Rue, who played as a forward and acquitted himself quite well.
EASTERN DIVISION ONE
RESULTS – ROUND 6
CROYDON 5.2 6.6 7.6 8.9(57)
BEACONSFIELD 1.2 2.8 5.12 6.12(48)
Croydon Goals: T. Broussard 3, R. Britton 2, C. McKenzie, J. Koger, J. Jones. Best Players: J. Koger, J. Lynch, J. Christie, T. Broussard, B. Hotker.
Beaconsfield Goals: J. Ocaa 2, M. Johnson, D. Johnston, H. Brough, D. Everett. Best: R. McMillan, H. Brough, T. Stokoe, C. Wassylko, D. Johnston, J. Docherty.
Upper Ferntree Gully 6.8.44 v Mooroolbark 20.16.136, Lilydale 5.5.39 v East Ringwood 10.11.71, Montrose 10.9.69 v Mitcham 8.10.58, Wantirna South 15.11.101 v Bayswater 10.7.67.
Mooroolbark 24, East Ringwood, Croydon 20, Wantirna South, Montrose, Mitcham 12, Bayswater, Beaconsfield 8, Lilydale 4, Upper Ferntree Gully 0.
FIXTURE – ROUND 7
Beaconsfield v Upper Ferntree Gully, East Ringwood v Wantirna South, Mooroolbark v Bayswater, Lilydale v Montrose, Mitcham v Croydon.