THE Shoalhaven Senior Football Competition had another round of close games last week.
Culburra won the top of the table clash 1-nil against Shoalhaven Heads to remain at the top of the table.
The news for Heads was not as good as they dropped from second to fifth. Shoalhaven United moved to second after defeating Illaroo 3-1, while Manyana moved to third with their 1-nil win over Huskisson.
Bomaderry complete the top four due to their 4-nil win over Basin.
There are four great games scheduled this week in what should be the closest round of the year.
Match of the round
THE match of the round is between the competition front runners Culburra and third placed Manyana.
At the start of the year these two sides were thought of as the ones to beat according to most opposition coaches.
Not much has changed as both are at the pointy end of the table.
Culburra have only had the one loss and this was when they were under strength. Since then they have won their games quite comfortably despite the scores not reflecting that.
Reports indicate that they are creating many chances but have been unable to finish in the last couple of games.
This problem appears as though it will be rectified with the return of super striker Corey Ryan.
He is likely to join Jack Miller up front and between them they have scored a massive 90 first grade goals in the last three years.
To put this into perspective, this is more than the bottom two sides have scored as a total for the last three years.
With the likes of Dale Blundell, Kieran Witt, Steve Gray, Mitchell Blundell and Rob Hill also in the squad, they now appear invincible.
Manyana have gone about their season with a minimum of fuss and are still undefeated.
They have wins over Basin, Huskisson and United and draws with Illaroo, Bomaderry and Heads.
Their win against United was probably their most impressive and they will need to find that form again to compete with the strong Culburra outfit.
Manyana coach Matt Tooley will hope to have Rohan Daley on deck as he certainly makes a difference to the side’s performance.
Defensively they are quite strong with Matt Sindon, Mark Dixon, Tim Dixon and Matt Ringland all playing well.
This should be a close game however at home Culburra should take maximum points.
Battle of third and fourth
THE game between Bomaderry and Shoalhaven United will also be a blockbuster. Bomaderry currently sit in fourth position only one point behind United.
They showed what they could do with a win over Culburra earlier in the year and coach Doug Foley will hope they can put in a similar performance against United. Michael Hampton and Cameron Nelson are both in the top goal scorers list and have been scoring regularly.
Ben Foley, David Hampton, Daniel Frew and Blake Munilla have also been good. Foley will be hoping Matt Kellett and Nathan Aldridge return to the side so they can be close to full strength for this important game.
United have played well in recent weeks with strong wins over Basin and Illaroo. Last week against Illaroo they struggled to score in the first half but came home with a wet sail after the injection of Kris Brant.
United have been known as an older side over the last few years, however with the inclusion of young guns Taite Arney, Jake Hush, Josh Mackaness and Billy Wallington, the average age has dropped significantly.
There are still the likes of Nando Lattanzio, Shane Button and Matt Fuz in the side but this has proved to be a good mix of youth and experience for coach Trevor Skingle.
This should be another close game with a draw the likely result.
Must win game for Illaroo
ILLAROO will host Shoalhaven Heads in what should be another great game between two evenly matched sides.
Illaroo are strong up front with Aarron Crittenden and Brandon Politano and in the midfield with Trent Bray, Evan Leedham and Brady Warren.
Their backline is weakened without the likes of Joe Leedham and Andrew Timbs, and if they are to be at their best one of these guys needs to return in the next few weeks.
Illaroo are currently in sixth position and a loss in this game may see them lose touch with the leading sides.
While Shoalhaven Heads have dropped to sixth position they have only had the two losses.
These losses were against the two sides currently at the top of the table. They pushed Culburra all the way last week and have had good wins over Bomaderry, Huskisson and Basin while they drew with Manyana in the first game of the year. Their form has been consistent with their worst result being a 3-nil loss to United.
They have the worst goal scoring record out of the top six sides and this will be an area coach Ross Tasker will want to improve.
Dane Tasker is one of the leading scorers in the competition while Conor Edenden and Ian Martin have been known to find the back of the net in the past. Like most of the other games this weekend, this match will also be close and it is unlikely the teams will be split at full-time.
Both teams battle for a win
THE last match in the round will also be a good game with both Huskisson and Basin looking to open their account for the year.
Huskisson have been thereabouts in most of their games and have in fact pushed Bomaderry, Illaroo and Manyana all the way and have only been beaten by a goal on each occasion.
With an ounce of luck a couple of these results could have been reversed.
They have several quality players including Sam Boardman, Jayme Delehenty, Josh Fuz, Brendan Hobbs, Alex Boardman and Jake Mulligan and their results could very well be different in the next round.
Basin had their worst half of the year in the first half against Bomaderry and the normally reserved Scott Aldridge let them know it.
To the side’s credit they put in an improved performance in the second half and Aldridge will hope that form continues this week.
Basin’s improvement in the lower grades will help the top grade as it will put pressure on players to perform.
In Dane McGinn the Basin side have one of the best strikers in the competition, however he has only found the back of the net on one occasion this year. Aldridge will be looking for McGinn to be more consistent if his side’s results are to improve as the year progresses.
Basin will be in this game for a long way, however at home Huskisson should win.