Daylesford & Hepburn United's seniors enjoyed back-to-back wins at home on the weekend.
The Division 2 side welcomed second-place Ballarat SC with some trepidation, having been on the receiving end of a 5-0 demolition in round 2. However, the Saints have been playing some great football in recent weeks and are showing that when they play their brand of football, they can be hard to break down.
Experienced backs Tim Leney and Richard Malter set the standard, hardly putting a foot wrong all day.
This pressure told, with the Saints creating several dangerous opportunities in the box, culminating with Govinda Hackenberger - in his game of the year - getting on the back post to nail home the Saints' best opportunity. Ballarat SC never really looked dangerous coming forward, but a momentary lapse and penalty made it 1-1 at half-time.
The second half was frenetic. Things settled when the Saints welcomed Dragi Koleski back on after a dominant first half. He won and distributed ball with no clear opponent and looked dangerous on set plays. Then came the goal, a mirror of the first half, Hackenberger finding space on the back post to slot his brace.
There are no easy games in Division 1, and three home points were necessary if United was to keep up with league leaders Warrnambool. The clash with Sebastopol started on even terms, with both teams looking for midfield control. If anything, it was Sebas who had the better of the battle, getting numbers forward and pinning dogged midfielders Jono Burris and Hiroshi Matsuda to the defensive line.
The Saints' defensive line has been outstanding all year, but Sebastopol where providing headaches, getting too much clean ball off corners and penetrating deep into the 18-yard box. Soon, the Saints were on the back foot, down 0-1.
Strong teams need to find a way to win, even when the game isn't quite on their terms. Enter Owen Turbitt. Seven minutes after the Sebas opener, isolated and versus four defenders, he found the back of the net.
The game was in the balance at half-time. In the second half, the Saints found their shape. Dylan Nulty and Lachlan Torquati started getting the overlap play working from the wing backs and new avenues to goal opened up.
Again, it was Turbitt who stood up. At 76 minutes, he recovered the ball and lobbed the keeper from 30 yards to send the Saints to a 2-1 lead.
From that moment, Matsuda, James Milesi and Jordy Barnes locked the game down, guaranteeing the win.
Next week, Division 2 is away to North Ballarat, while Division 1 travels to Forest Rangers.