Injuries, the bane of many a football team, threatened to derail Prahran Assumption in its quest for a fourth successive win in VAFA Division 2 on Saturday.
Five minutes into the first quarter , full-back Stephen McIntyre clutched his hamstring and while he stayed on the field until the last quarter was clearly restricted.
Then 20 minutes into a tight first quarter at Old Paradians’ Garvey Oval with both teams goalless, captain and competition leading goalkicker Adam Sleight hobbled off with a corked calf.
At half-time the Two Blues held a three point lead with just two goals each in an arm wrestle with the heavy conditions ideal for third-on-the-ladder Old Paradians’ defensive game plan.
Sleight returned after half-time to the pleasant surprise of Two Blues fans and lament of the home side.
Within five minutes he took a typically strong contested mark and goaled.
A further goal to Brett Fields gave the Two Blues some breathing space before a quick Old Paradians reply.
Captain-coach David Boundy moved himself from defence to the forward line as the home team lifted its intensity.
But a free-kick against Matt Pell’s tagger taken by Paul Donahoo and a resultant long goal from deep in the forward pocket moments before the three-quarter time siren proved a telling blow for the Two Blues.
The three-quarter time lead of 17 points quickly ballooned with successive goals to Ashley Wiggins and three more from Sleight to give him 22 goals for the season.
The final margin of 38 points was no indication of the physical toll with Dale Barrett’s broken nose adding to McIntyre and Sleight’s injury concerns.
The Two Blues took control at the clearances after half-time and as Pell and James Musster eventually shrugged tight tags, the game broke open.
While Boundy was effective holding Old Paradians’ defence together, the home team was never a serious scoreboard threat against a spirited Two Blues defence.
Although regular full-back Jack Matherson and classy defender Daniel Anglin were missing with injury and with another key defender Ed MacDonald required to match-up against Boundy, the backline remained rock solid.
Blayne Dempsey was a stand-out at half-back with his contested marking and first gamer Liam Hunt was impressive , earning the plaudits of coach Ashley Mills.
Hunt took the honours against Old Paradians best small forward Blake Holden and ended the game taking the honours over Boundy when he went forward.
Mills praised his players for “another gutsy win with 22 contributors.’’
“Our back six were outstanding, ’’ he said.
While the forward line wasn’t as functional, Pell, Tim Maya and Ed MacDonald were crucial with goal assists and Wiggins rallied after a quarter-time spray from Mills.
After its first round capitulation to Bulleen Templestowe, Prahran Assumption is now a clear second on the ladder beating the third, fourth and fifth teams in the past three wins and returns to Toorak Park next Saturday to play St Mary’s Salesian.
PRAHRAN ASSUMPTION 0-2 2-4 5-7 10-7 (67)
OLD PARADIANS 1-1 2-1 3-2 4-5 (29).
Goals: Sleight 4, Wiggins 2, Donahoo, MacDonald, Simpson, Fields.
Best: Dempsey, Hunt, Donahoo, Barrett, Fields, Pascoe, Pell.
Undeafeted Old Paradians demolished Prahran Assumption in a one-sided Reserves contest.
Prahran Assumption well below its third-on-the-ladder status but gets a chance to atone against winless St Mary's next Saturday.
PRAHRAN ASSUMPTION 3-3 (21)
OLD PARADIANS 11-13 (79).
Goals: Ellis 2, Oliver.
After controlling the game for three quarters and being 4 goals up early in the last, the PAFC Clubbies were overrun by a resurgent NOBs.
With less than a minute to go, NOBs kicked a goal to hit the lead for the first time in the game and win the match by five points.
The loss leaves the Clubbies with two wins and three losses for the season and faces a big game next week versus last year’s premiers De La Salle.
It was a near full strength Two Blues that lined up with a full compliment of eight on the bench in what is always a good sign. The return of Andrew Slawinski, Will Walford, Peter Cotter, Gerry Ryan, Tully Ryan and Jim Mantella bolstered the side looking to establish its finals credentials.
The first three quarters saw an even contest but with the Clubbies seemingly holding the upper hand and leading in all key indicators.
In the middle, Geoff Scott and Brett Michael were providing good service to the mids with Michael Slaven, Nick Mitchell and Jason Storer providing run and drive around the ground.
Up forward Sam Cooper was a fine target and Mark Ploenges was using his footy smarts to be dangerous.
Down back Trav Jackson, Gerry Ryan and Crispin Myres lead the back six to keep NOBs to three goals to three- quarter time.
Despite the clear dominance by Prahran Assumption, the team failed to make the most of its opportunities and should have been further in front at the final change.
In a tight final term, NOBs started winning the clearances and their forwards made the most of opportunities. NOBs gathered momentum and the game was being played in their half. The Clubbies hardly troubled the scorers for the quarter whereas NOBs kicked four goals (they had only kicked three goals in total to three-quarter time) to run out five point winners.
The ladder looks very tight and it could be a result that the Clubbies rue come finals time.
Goal Kickers: S. Cooper 2, M. Ploenges 2, N. Mitchell , B. Michael
Best Players: J. Storer, T. Jackson, N. Mitchell, N. Keohler, B. Michael, S. Cooper