By David Nagel
Beaconsfield still has plenty to play for in its first season in the Eastern Football League despite having its finals hopes dampened by Bayswater on Saturday.
The Eagles led by 11 points at three-quarter-time but were held scoreless in the final term as the Kangaroos stormed home to a 10.10.70 to 9.6.60 win to keep their own finals hopes alive.
Beaconsfield started well, forcing forward-50 turnovers that resulted in two early goals to Hayden Brough, but the Eagles trailed by a point at the first break after kicking 2.5 to the Kangas three-straight.
Baywater extended its lead to nine points at half time, before some Matt Johnson magic drove the Eagles to the front at the final interval.
Johnson kicked four goals in 15 minutes, including a 60-metre bomb at the 25-minute-mark of the third quarter that looked to be a game-changer
Johnson’s barrage kicked the Eagles out to their biggest lead of the match, but they stumbled badly in the final term.
The Eagles, super-competitive all season, failed to once again scrape their way across the line.
“We’re getting ourselves into positions to win games but unfortunately, we’re falling a bit short,” said Eagles’ coach Mick Fogarty
“It would have been great to win on the weekend, and that’s two out of three games now where we’ve been in that position but haven’t finished off the job.
“The important thing is to take learnings out of these types of games and understand what’s required to win games in this competition.
“I believe we’re only to get better and we already understand how close it is and the little things that make a difference.”
The Eagles were brave in a tough game of footy on the weekend, with Sam Mackinder, Sam Merrick, Trent Stokoe and Tyson Robinson more than matching motors with their experienced opponents.
Bayswater just produced some magical moments at key times to eek their way to victory.
Fogarty is delighted with his playing group, who are learning some great lessons on the run, but admits his team needs to strengthen in one or two areas around the ground.
“We’ve got plenty of talent, there’s no doubt about that, but we probably just need a couple of players to fill some obvious spots,” Fogarty said.
“We don’t have a big gorilla-type defender that can lock down and keep a dangerous forward quiet, and someone like that could certainly take us to the next level.
“The biggest positive for our young group is that these kids are getting games in a strong competition and they’ll know what to expect moving forward.
“It’s going to take some time, but we feel like we’re very close to taking the next step.
“This was always going to be a challenging year for us, but one that we’ve loved being a part of and we’ve really embraced the competition and understand what it looks like.
“We’ve got a massive future in the EFL.”
Last year, in the Outer East competition, Beaconsfield could set itself for match-of-the-day contests against teams like Cranbourne and Narre Warren, but relax against others.
But this year, every game is of that quality and intensity.
“It’s like playing those teams every week, and the boys are embracing it,” Fogarty said.
“It’s a fierce competition, competitive week-in-week-out, and we love that type of football.
“The boys are giving their all, every week, and you can’t ask for more than that.
“The boys are holding up; they’ve still got plenty to play for and we can’t wait to see what the last six rounds bring.”
With finals now unlikely, Fogarty still has high expectations for his playing group.
“We want to win every game,” he said bluntly.
“That might sound unrealistic to some, but that’s our aim.
“We’ve got East Ringwood this week, they’re second on the ladder and it just gives us a massive opportunity to compete against one of the best teams in the competition.
“That’s our challenge, to defeat a side like East Ringwood and walk away with some confidence that can really drive you forward for next year.
“I’ve seen the positive impact that those sorts of wins can have on a young group…so we’ve got plenty to play for still.”
Johnson finished with five goals for the Eagles, and Brough three, while skipper Jake Bowd overcame an early knock to the ribs – and a yellow card – to be an effective player around the ground.
RESULTS – ROUND 12
Bayswater 3.0 7.4 7.7 10.10(70)
Beaconsfield 2.5 5.5 9.6 9.6(60)
Bayswater Goals: P. Haasbroek 2, J. Doffay 2, J. Treeby 2, W. McInerney, J. Cameron, A. Young, M. Higgins. Best: M. Higgins, B. White, B. Galvin, D. Murray, C. McLeod, P. Haasbroek.
Beaconsfield Goals: M. Johnson 5, H. Brough 3, M. Currie. Best: S. Mackinder, S. Merrick, M. Johnson, J. Bowd, T. Stokoe, T. Robinson.
East Ringwood 21.12.138 v Croydon 8.8.56, Lilydale 8.13.61 v Mitcham 15.17.107, Wantirna South 22.14.146 v Upper Ferntree Gully 12.6.78.
Mooroolbark 48, East Ringwood 44, Mitcham 28, Croydon 28, Wantirna South 24, Bayswater 20, Montrose 16, Beaconsfield 16, Lilydale 16, Upper Ferntree Gully 0.
Beaconsfield v East Ringwood, Croydon v Wantirna South, Mooroolbark v Lilydale, Upper Ferntree Gully v Montrose, Mitcham v Bayswater.