Demons secure a spot against Echuca

By Lauren Bordin

The past month has thrown up its challenges for Shepparton United, but regardless it is back in the same position as last year.

The Demons secured a spot at Deakin Reserve against Echuca in the preliminary final, despite captain Kirsty Hommes going down with a torn ACL in the final round of the season.

Young gun Isobelle Bradford has been unable to play extended periods due to illness and coach Di Hanslow is still unsure if she will be fit to play on Sunday.

But Hanslow said due to difficulties with availabilities she was even more impressed that Shepparton United would feature in all five grades in the penultimate weekend of the season.

‘‘It’s fantastic, we’re just so proud of the girls and what they’re doing in A-grade,’’ she said.

‘‘We lost Kirsty and we’ve had Belle Bradford out for three weeks sick and we’re not sure if she’ll be well enough to play on the weekend, that’s still up in the air.

‘‘So to have all five grades still going after a tough month with illness and injury, it’s been great to see the other girls have stepped up.’’

Out of all the sides in the competition, Shepparton United is among those most accustomed to dealing with changes, with Hanslow renowned for swapping and changing.

Laura Cole is one utility that can be sent from a quarter in centre back to defence at a moment’s notice and could again be on call depending on how Hanslow chooses to counteract Echuca’s Sheridan Townrow.

Jessie Barnes-Hill spent time on Shepparton goaler Kim Commane last week and could play in defence again, although it is risky taking her out of goal attack.

‘‘It’s a possibility (putting Barnes-Hill in defence), we haven’t totally made a decision on that yet, but it just gives us another option to look at,’’ Hanslow said.

‘‘It’s a possibility, but we certainly haven’t decided on it yet and Jess is an asset to us at either end.’’

Hanslow was content with her side’s efforts against Shepparton last weekend when the Bears progressed straight to the finals.

But making the most of opportunities is paramount for the Demons to defeat their favoured opponent.

‘‘We were reasonably happy with the way we played and we thought we got plenty of turnover throughout the match and I was happy with that,’’ Hanslow said.

‘‘It’s just a matter of making sure that we value the ball and reward ourselves for hard work, so working on that for this week is our aim.’’