A mouth-watering Shepparton derby headlines a huge weekend in the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League.
Shepparton and Shepparton United were held to 2-2 draws in the first round and, with both intent on responding, not to mention the years of rivalry between the clubs, this weekend’s fixture could see any result.
Roven Shaholli’s United side was the better team in its clash with Eaglehawk and led for the majority, only to be denied by a cruel equaliser in the 89th minute.
And Shepparton, which was possibly expecting to cruise against a Colts United side which was largely uncompetitive in 2017, also led before slipping to a draw.
It led 1-0 at the half-time break, but conceded twice early in the second half, with a late equaliser rescuing it a point.
Coach Dillon Shelley saw plenty of positive in the contest his side would need to take into the weekend’s game at Vibert Reserve.
‘‘The way we played, I was reasonably happy,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s all about the bigger picture and what we are building towards.
‘‘Put simply, we started strong and made a really good impact in the first 35 to 40 minutes, but they lifted and were a bit more competitive, and really capitalised on their chances.
‘‘For us going in there was a bit of unknown and we didn’t quite know what to expect. Colts United was a pretty competitive team, it had made a step forward from last season, had recruited pretty heavily and it showed on the weekend.’’
The Shepparton coach said the rivalry between the clubs was based more on competition than the general dislike of the past.
‘‘We’re definitely up for it, all the boys are really excited actually and pumped for it,’’ Shelley said.
‘‘There’s always been a very good history and rivalry between the sides.
‘‘There is that big history between the clubs but the rivalry is probably slight more friendly these days.
‘‘We respect every side in the league and it will probably be a really good gauge of where we are at.’’
Expectations are high at United after a big summer of recruitment and quality signing Fabrice Ebe made his mark in his first appearance for the club and will be looking to get on the scoresheet again.
But it beat Shepparton 2-0 and 2-1 in last year’s meetings and will come out firing after the disappointment of last weekend’s draw.