SHOALHAVEN Heads will stay in touch with the top of the table after they had a 3-1 victory against Illaroo at Vic Zealand Oval on Saturday.
After jumping out to a 2-nil lead in the first half, the home side faced a few anxious moments, before putting the game to bed in the dying stages.
Jye Findlay made a successful return from injury by scoring Heads first goal in the 34th minute, before they doubled their lead six minutes later when Conor Edenden scored their second.
Heads took the 2-nil lead into the break and held the visitors out for the first 20 minutes of the second half.
But Illaroo got a chance to get back in the game in the 65th minute when they were awarded a penalty.
Evan Leedham made no mistake from the spot and pegged it back to 2-1 to keep his side in the contest.
The Roos kept the home side on their toes, with their best chance coming in the 81st minute, but Leedham was denied his second goal thanks to a great save from keeper Dave Crapp.
Any faint hopes Illaroo had of getting a point out of the game were dashed in injury time when Dane Tasker scored Heads’ third goal, to put the result beyond doubt.
Heads coach Ross Tasker said there were a few nervous moments in the second half, but thought they were deserving of the three points.
“They made it tricky for us and had one good shot at an equaliser, so it was nice to put the game to bed,” Tasker said.
“To their credit, they hung in there and made a game of it, but I felt like we were on top for most of the game,” he added.
Tasker thought 2-nil at half-time was a pretty fair indication of the game, but they may have let their guard down at times, which allowed the visitors to come back.
Illaroo coach Andrew Timbs thought they had some good patches of play, but did not play consistently enough to deserve a result.
“It just wasn’t a very good performance on our part,” Timbs said.
“Right from the start, they had more energy and played with more intensity.
“We got one goal back and put a bit of pressure on them when we were pushing for an equaliser, but we probably didn’t deserve to get a point out of it.”
Jarod Ryding, Ian Martyn, Conor Edenden and Dave Crapp were picked as the best players by Tasker, while Timbs said there were no real standouts for his side.
The result takes Heads one step closer to securing their spot in the final four and Tasker said it would be a bit of an implosion if they were to miss out from here.
The top four is slipping further away from Illaroo, with Timbs conceding they would need to win just about all of their games to make it from here.
They were in a similar position last year and managed to do just that and while Timbs is hoping they can do it again, he said they only have themselves to blame if they miss out.