Keilor steadies for welcome win

Keilor's Jackson Mc Mahon. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

By Lance Jenkinson

Keilor had no right to win over Greenvale in the Essendon District Football League premier division on Saturday, but it refused to come off the ground a defeated side.

There were two instances when the Blues were swimming against the tide in the second half of an enthralling encounter at Keilor Reserve, but on both occasions they fought their way back into the contest to finish with a memorable nine-point win.

Blues coach Mick McGuane lauded his players for finding a way when it looked as though Greenvale was getting on top late in the game.

“It was a great game of footy and it could’ve gone either way without question,” he said.

“Halfway through the third quarter, it might’ve got to 22 points down or something of that nature, then halfway through the last quarter, we were 16 points down, but we found a way to win.

“It was a pretty good effort.”

Keilor could not afford to put a foot wrong in the last quarter if it was to keep its undefeated record intact.

The composed Blues kept that in mind as they proceeded to kick five goals straight for the quarter to run out victors.

“Those boys stood up when it counted,” McGuane said.

“We kicked some really clutch goals late.

“You have to kick those goals under pressure.

“We found out about individuals in those situations and it was all positive.”

Keilor’s Riley Ham and Greenvale’s Jacob Thompson. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

PHOTO GALLERY: Keilor vs Greenvale 

The most pleasing aspect of the win for Keilor was its midfield to forward connection.

The Blues have worked hard in recent weeks to find better spots in attack to score from and that was reflective in their goalkicking efficiency.

“We’re always trying to tinker with our mids to forwards connection, where we win it and what we do with it when we win it,” McGuane said. “Today was a positive and the boys method after half-time was a lot better than it was in the first half.”

Brett Stillman was Keilor’s standout in the midfield.

Playing against his former club, not only did Stillman do a job defensively, but also set up a lot of the play with his work at the coal face.

“It’s never easy playing against your old club and a lot of ex-teammates,” McGuane said.

“As a young player, he would’ve felt an enormous amount of pressure to perform, but we felt that he had a significant role to play against the stoppage.

“Addam Maric is a very good player for them if allowed time and space and he got that early, but we gave Brett a job to nullify his influence and he did it pretty well after half-time.”

Kane Barbuto, Dylan Joyce, David Gourdis and Jamie Papalia were influential in the midfield for Keilor.

Young half-backs Mitchell Rogerson and Campbell Barton offered plenty of drive.

Rookie Darren Walters had the unenviable task of staring down Greenvale star Fabian Deluca in the ruck and performed admirably.

“He’s a kid who’s been given an opportunity because Brock McGregor did an ACL in round three,” McGuane said.

“He’s playing against seasoned performers who have had AFL backgrounds, pre-seasons with weight programs, so we’ll continue to work with him throughout the week.”

Dean Galea kicked three goals for Keilor, taking his tally to a league-best 35.

Keilor heads into the Queen’s Birthday break with a game and percentage lead over second.

The Blues will return to the field on June 15 with an away trip to Essendon Doutta Stars.

In division 1, Hillside’s miraculous comeback attempt fell short by 12 points against Tullamarine. The Sharks were goalless and 51 points down at half-time, but kicked 11 goals to five in the second half to make it a close finish.

In division 2, Keilor Park was battered by Coburg Districts, losing by 306 points. The Devils could only manage one goal off the boot of Domagoj Dajak in the last quarter.

Burnside Heights comfortably accounted for Hadfield by 49 points.