There are no easy games in the National Premier League Two and the Goulburn Valley Suns will be reminded of that this weekend with a long trip to North Geelong.
Preseason ambitions of a promotion push have been put on hold after a string of tough results, with the Suns languishing ninth on the league table, nine points back to top side Dandenong City.
After seemingly turning the corner and establishing themselves among the league’s top sides early in the campaign, a brutal three-week stretch has sent the Suns in the wrong direction.
Conceding 14 goals in three losses to Melbourne City, Box Hill United and Murray United might suggest otherwise, but Suns playing-coach Craig Carley maintained his confidence the side could be factor going forward.
So the quest for redemption starts in North Geelong.
‘‘It’s a tough game, it’s always tough to go there, but on any given day you can get a result,’’ Carley said.
‘‘They’re a very hard-working side and they’ve got a quick forward who gets in the right position, so we’ll look to shut him down.
‘‘We just need to start picking up some points.’’
The Warriors are in the promotion hunt in the NPL2 West division, sitting fourth, just one point back from top spot.
They were undefeated in their first four games, but lost two straight games against the Moreland Zebras and St Albans Saints, before responding with a 2-0 win against Sunshine George Cross in the last league outing.
Their class is clear to see, spending last season in the top-tier of the NPL, struggling throughout though with just one win for the season and being relegated by 14 points.
For the Suns, it is a tough task but one they would love to pass to start getting their season headed in the right direction.
Jordan Montagner will be back in the line-up after serving his suspension for a red card mid-week in the Suns’ 2-1 FFA Cup win against Eltham Redbacks, with Jamie England expected to be right after missing the contest.
Matt Lelliott remains in doubt with a suspected broken foot as well.
Carley still felt the Suns had not been outplayed, but needed to step up to stop their season falling apart.
‘‘I wouldn’t say we’ve been bad, but we need to improve to get to where we want to finish,’’ he said.
‘‘We need to start picking up some points. I’ve been saying the same thing for the last few weeks and we can’t keep saying the next match is where we start winning games.
‘‘I still think we’ve matched it with every team we’ve played, but we have to be winning games.’’
●The Goulburn Valley Suns’ under 20 side is the hottest team in the region.
The next generation of Suns superstars have shown their potential in a devastating three-game winning streak, sitting fourth on the NPL2 East table, well poised for an assault on the title.
The next challenge comes in the form of the North Geelong Warriors, who sit atop the western conference with a 4-2-1 record seven games into the season.
The side has won both home games, but will have to deal with an up and about Suns unit.
Coach Stuart Vance, who has maintained through the season he feels his side has not been outclassed, has had his belief vindicated in the past three performances, particularly in a gutsy defensive stand in a 1-0 win against Murray United.
The number one priority for the Warriors will be shutting down the red-hot Alou Kuol, who has buried 12 goals in three games.