By: Joseph Arthur
UPPER FERNTREE GULLY’s upset one-point win over Bayswater last Saturday has kept its season alive.
With a number of upsets throughout Round 8 of Division 1, the Kings remain on the bottom of the ladder, however in arguably the EFL’s most evenly-matched league, senior playing-coach Joel Perry said that his side can beat anyone.
“It’s good that it’s even, we were confident (last Saturday) leading into the game, we kind of always go into every game confident,” Perry said.
“Even though we’ve lost two of the last three, they’ve been close ones, so we’ve been in every game.
“(Saturday) was a bit of a relief, a very close game, Bayswater are very hard to beat, they’re hard at the footy and they don’t give much up so I was quite happy to get over the line, but as I said, more of a relief than a celebration.
“Personally it gives me the attitude that we can beat anyone on our day if we apply ourselves properly and hopefully we can string a few together after the bye.”
A sluggish third term and inaccurate kicking nearly cost Upper Ferntree Gully, but Bayswater failed to take advantage and the Kings fought back in the final term to escape with the points.
Poor starts to the second half have been a recurring theme in Upper Gully’s season, losing all eight of its premiership quarters thus far.
Perry said it’s something that needs to be remedied in the latter half of the year.
“We’ve definitely got a different group this year, very young, so maybe it’s something we need to look at just with how we structure things at half time, maybe get them moving a little bit more inside the rooms,” he said.
“We are coming home strong so we do think we are quite fit, maybe it’s more of a concentration issue for the third quarter.
“They (Bayswater) were able to get us around the clearances in the third quarter which helped them get in front by three-quarter time, but as I said, pleasing to be able to turn that around in the last quarter and just get over the line.”
Co-captain Liam Gellie has been a stalwart down back for the red and blue all year, stepping up in what has been a testing season and leading from the front. Gellie’s leadership was on full display against Bayswater and really impressed the coach.
“He’s been really strong in a year where we’re now 2-6, we really needed our leaders to stand up yesterday, our other co-captain did a hamstring on Thursday night so he was out, so Liam really stood up and did a really good job,” Perry said.
Northern Blues-listed young gun Kye Quirk also impressed, kicking two goals as he continues to find his way against the big boys of EFL footy.
“He’s just got a hell of a lot of talent, he’s still learning the game a little bit but his raw talent is starting to come through, every game he’s getting better and better,” Perry said.
Upper Ferntree Gully has a crucial few weeks ahead, facing Knox and East Ringwood in the first few rounds following the week off, two teams narrowly above it on the ladder.
If the Kings can build some momentum it has a big opportunity to climb up the table and set up an interesting back half of the season that could still potentially include a finals berth.
“Definitely the next five weeks are going to be pretty important, we need to get a bit of a roll on and some momentum into our game after the break, but I’m confident we can go OK,” Perry said.
“We only lost to Doncaster East by three points two weeks ago, so I think we can beat anyone and I think anyone thinks they can beat anyone.”
Upper Ferntree Gully plays away from home against Knox following the Queen’s Birthday break.