SHOALHAVEN United are the competition champions of Shoalhaven Senior Football for 2013 after last week’s results.
United had a bye last week and while there is still three rounds to be played, they are guaranteed of the top spot as they lead the competition by a massive nine points.
This is a surprising lead given the closeness of this year’s competition.
The only remaining challenger for the top spot was Bomaderry and they were beaten 3-2 by Shoalhaven Heads.
Seven teams are still in the running for the remaining three positions in the top four.
Culburra moved back into second after easily accounting for Sussex 4-nil. Shoalhaven Heads entered the top four for the first time after defeating Bomaderry, while Illaroo and Gerringong are only two points out of the top four courtesy of a win over Milton and the bye respectively.
Huskisson are also still in the race, despite picking up only their first win of the second round over Basin.
It will certainly be an exciting final three rounds with the likelihood that the top four won’t be decided until the last round.
Match of the round
Shoalhaven Heads v United
Vic Zealand Oval
THE match of the round is between two of the form teams of the competition. Fourth placed Shoalhaven Heads will be playing the newly crowned champions Shoalhaven United.
These two sides are the only teams still undefeated in the second round.
Heads have stormed into the top four and their finishing position is now in their hands.
They came back strongly in the second half to defeat Bomaderry after being behind at half time.
Liam Sulley, Tim White, Connor Edenden and Jack Miller caused problems for the Bomaderry defence, while Brad Page, Roy Miller and Thomas Simnadis were strong at the back.
Heads coach Brad Page knows his side need to continue on their winning ways to remain in contention for the top four.
Shoalhaven United have not tasted defeat since round seven when they were beaten by Culburra.
This game was the turning point of United’s season as coach Trevor Skingle made several changes, particularly in defence, that improved their performances.
The general consensus in the competition was that United were too old and slow to be a threat, however Skingle appears to have found the right balance between youth and experience.
The likes of Nando Lattanzio, Dale Baxter, Warrick Schutz, Matt Fuz, Michael Binney and Nathan Murphy provide the experience, while Allan Potter, Kaine Good, Jason Button, Matt Lewis, Shaun Aldous and Alex Dicker provide the youth.
United won the first round 6-nil, but there was extenuating circumstances in that match and Heads are going much better now.
As United have now wrapped up the championship, Heads’ desperation may get them home in this game.
Gerringong tries to break Illaroo
Illaroo v Gerringong
ANOTHER great game will be between Illaroo and Gerringong.
These sides are equal on points and it is likely that the loser’s season will be over.
Illaroo appeared to be out of the race several weeks ago, but have continued to pick up points and are only two points behind fourth spot.
While they need to win all their games and rely on other results going their way, anything is possible.
Illaroo coach Andrew Timbs will be hoping for strong performances from Aaron Crittenden, Matt Rowe, Evan Leedham, Brett Martin, Sam Leedham, Brendan Thorpe, Joe Hockey and John Muggleton.
Gerringong are the defending premiers and would dearly love to get the chance to defend their premiership.
They have had a mixed year and have also been affected by unavailability.
At full strength they can beat anyone, but this has rarely been the case. Gerringong coach Andy Lockard will hope to have Ian Morris, Jason Lockard, Dean Land, Michael Reminis, Ben Dent, Jack Lowrie, Chris Reminis, Gary Vian and Robbie Franks all on deck.
Gerringong won the first round encounter 3-2, but a draw is the likely result this time.
Milton have their work cut out for them
Huskisson v Milton
Huskisson Sporting Fields
Huskisson will host Milton in an important game for the home side.
Huskisson kept their season alive with a good win last week, but they will need to keep this up each week and then still rely on other results going their way. They managed to keep their first clean sheet for the year last week and coach Sam Tooley will want this to happen in their remaining two games.
It has been well documented that Huskisson lost their way after leading the competition at the half way mark, but despite what happens, Tooley would like to finish the season on a high.
Gary Masterson has been near unstoppable up front, and if he fires, the Milton defence could be in for a long afternoon.
Milton pushed United all the way a couple of weeks ago and had a good win over Basin, but they struggled against Illaroo last week.
Daniel Todeschini once again scored their goal and is among the top 10 goal scorers in the competition.
Blake Sommerville, Peter Whitmore, Oscar Lees and Peter Whitmore have also been good.
Milton is only a few players short of being competitive every week against the top sides.
They will be looking to upset some of their more fancied rivals in the final rounds.
Huskisson won the first round 3-1, and while Milton will try hard, they won’t be any match for Huskisson.
Culburra v St Georges Basin
THE final match in this round is between Culburra and Basin.
Culburra returned to form with a comprehensive win over fellow contenders Sussex.
After two losses to Bomaderry and United, the Culburra side needed to return to the winners list so they do not drop out of the top four.
The Cougars had been playing well, but were not taking their chances.
But against Sussex they managed to put four unanswered goals away.
This actually doubled the scoring rate for the second round.
They also had four different scorers, which is a good sign.
Basin has a young side that will be all the better next year from this year’s experience.
They managed to hold Huskisson out for 45 minutes and like Milton, they would benefit from two or three experienced players.
Basin coach Scott Aldridge took a Bomaderry club in a similar situation from wooden spooners to premiers within a relative short period, and he will be looking to do the same with Basin.
There is probably no better coach of young players in the competition.
Culburra won the first round 4-1 and they should get a similar result this week.