By Jackson Russell
Kilmore is in a precarious position on the Northern Football Netball League division three football ladder, following a 26-point away loss to Panton Hill.
The Blues started well and were right in it for three quarters before it went pear-shaped in the final term.
Kilmore was just eight-points behind at quarter time and closed the gap to four points at half-time.
In fact, the Blues could’ve been in front at the main break but poor kicking for goal – one goal, five points, cost them.
The Redbacks pushed the margin back out to 11 points at three-quarter time after kicking three goals to two in the third term.
Kilmore was still within striking distance from a big win over the second-place Redbacks but Panton Hill wasn’t going to allow it to happen on their home turf.
The Redbacks closed the game with a four goal to one final term for a much-needed win.
Kilmore coach Nathan Phillips said Panton Hill’s straight kicking made the difference.
“For a bit in the last, we got it back to a chance of winning but they kicked away again. We missed a lot of easy shots at goal and they capitalised on their opportunities,” he said.
Phillips said defender Steve McIntyre played a great game down back, holding Panton Hill forward Rhys Boyden to just two goals.
“Boyden’s kicked 70-odd for the year but Steve’s played on him twice and only conceded two goals,” he said.
“Adam Milne was really good across half back when the game was in the balance, Leigh Irons and Chris Ryall were fantastic in the middle again.”
The Blues still sit third on the ladder, but are just half a game ahead of South Morang and a game ahead of Mernda.
Thankfully for Kilmore, they host a lowly-ranker Lalor side at JJ Clancy Reserve this week.
Phillips said the Blues still want to win to guarantee their spot in the finals.
“We don’t think we’re in yet but we’ve got 40 per cent on Mernda and they’re going to have to make up a lot of ground but stranger things have happened,” he said.
“If we win, against Lalor, we’re in no matter what.
“We’re not taking Lalor lightly, they’ve been pretty handy the last few weeks, have some players back and will want to finish the year on a high.
“We have to come out and play our best footy and we want to make sure we’re in-form for finals if we get there.”
Panton Hill 11.9 (75) def Kilmore 6.13 (49)
Goals: D. Freeman 2, N. Hendry 2, R. Boyden 2, C. Jordan 2, J. McLellan, S. Conte, S. Parks
Best: S. Conte, T. Duckworth, N. Hendry, C. Jordan, J. McLellan, B. Searle
Goals: B. Cooney 2, M. Webb 2, J. Kinnear, S. Skidmore
Best: A. Milne, L. Irons, S. McIntyre, G. Paxton, C. Ryall, M. Swindells